By Mary Joseph, NEWS 9
Protesters gathered near the south steps of the state Capitol on Wednesday to demand an end to the Iraq war on the fifth anniversary of its beginning.
Five years in Iraq is five years too long was the message that about 120 protesters sent out.
With boots laid out to represent the fallen heroes, the protesters said the way to honor the soldiers is to bring them home.
The protesters like Kurtis Cates want to see the soldiers come home much more aggressively than the current plan. Although he knows this protest alone won't do that, he hopes lawmakers are listening.
"Send a message to our leaders that we are going to hold them accountable and we know what is going on," Cates said.
The last five years have been marked with significant milestones, from the Shock and Awe Campaign, to surges of violence and the fall of Saddam Hussein. Congressman Tom Cole characterizes the past five years as a success.
"A success that's been difficult," Cole said.
Retired Lt. Col. Steve Russell, who ran of the brigade that captured Saddam, predicts in the next few years, Americans will see Iraqis taking more control of their county.
"The difference we have today that we didn't have even two years ago is half million Iraqis in uniform securing their own nation," Russell said. "We need to stop looking at Iraq as an enemy and start looking at them as an ally."
In half a decade, will Americans still be in Iraq? Likely said Congressman Cole, but hopefully not in combat.
"When people say long term presence it does not mean long term war," Cole said. "If we pull out now, every inch that we gained and everything that we have achieved could roll back downhill and be lost."
Similar to the protest at the capitol, there were four other vigils scheduled Wednesday night across Oklahoma.