Tens of thousands of Americans opposed to the Iraq war converged in Washington, demanding the troops be brought home.
"Silence is no longer an option," activist and actress Jane Fonda told the crowd on Saturday.
In the 1960s, conservatives derided her as "Hanoi Jane," especially after her visit to North Vietnam.
She last attended an anti-war protest in 1973. Fonda told people she held back to avoid being a distraction for the Iraq anti-war movement, but felt she now had to speak out.
"Thank you so much for the courage to stand up against this mean-spirited, vengeful administration," she said.
Fonda drew parallels between Iraq and the Vietnam conflict, which took the lives of 58,000 U.S. troops before the United States withdrew in 1973.
She accused the Bush administration of "blindness to realities on the ground, hubris ... thoughtlessness in our approach to rebuilding a country we've destroyed."
However, she also made a point of thanking active-duty service members, Iraq war veterans and Gold Star mothers who attended the rally.
More than 3,000 U.S. military personnel have died in Iraq since the March 2003 invasion. There have been about 130,000 troops in the country, although U.S. President George Bush is planning to boost that number by 21,500. At the height of the Vietnam War in 1968, there were more than 500,000 U.S. troops in that southeast Asian country.
Bush spoke by telephone with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. In it, Bush again expressed his commitment to the boost in troop strength.
"He understands that Americans want to see a conclusion to the war in Iraq and the new strategy is designed to do just that," said Gordon Johndroe, a spokesman for the National Security Council.
The president was out of town for the weekend.
On Saturday, the U.S. military reported that seven more soldiers had died since Thursday.
Sectarian violence took 61 Iraqi lives, with 40 bodies found in Baghdad alone.
The website Iraq Body Count estimates the civilian Iraqi death toll as being between 55,000 and 61,000.
The heavily fortified Green Zone in Baghdad, the seat of Iraqi government and the U.S. presence, came under rocket fire for the second time in three days.
Actor Sean Penn also addressed the crowd, saying U.S. lawmakers who didn't take a stand would pay a price in the 2008 elections.
Referring to a non-binding resolution in Congress, he said, "If they don't stand up and make a resolution as binding as the death toll, we're not going to be behind those politicians." Actress Susan Sarandon and actor Tim Robbins also addressed the rally.
Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., chair of the House Judiciary Committee, threatened the use of congressional spending power to stop the war.
"George Bush has a habit of firing military leaders who tell him the Iraq war is failing," he told the crowd. "He can't fire you."
Referring to Congress, Conyers added: "He can't fire us."
"The founders of our country gave our Congress the power of the purse because they envisioned a scenario exactly like we find ourselves in today. Now only is it in our power, it is our obligation to stop Bush."
White House spokesman Trey Bohn rejected Conyers' assertion that Bush fired generals who disagreed with him.
At the rally, 12-year-old Moriah Arnold told the crowd: "Now we know our leaders either lied to us or hid the truth. Because of our actions, the rest of the world sees us as a bully and a liar."
A poll conducted for the BBC World Service in 25 countries and released earlier this week found the percentage of people who had a positive opinion of the United States dropping and those with a negative opinion rising.
Forty-nine per cent had a negative opinion. Twenty-nine per cent had a positive opinion, compared to 36 per cent in 2006 and 40 per cent in 2005.
Seventy-three per cent of overall respondents disapproved of the Bush administration's policy on Iraq, compared to 57 per cent in Iraq.
While some active-duty service personnel joined the protesters, there was a small counter-protest.
About 40 people showed up to support the war.
Army Cpl. Joshua Sparling, 25, said those protesters who are vets or on active duty "need to remember the sacrifice we have made and what our fallen comrades would say if they are alive."
Sparling lost a leg in Iraq to a bomb.
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