updated 3/15/2004 3:47:44 PM ET 2004-03-15T20:47:44

Carrying memorial wreaths, more than 100 peace activists gathered Monday in the nation’s capital to honor U.S. troops killed and wounded in Iraq and to call on President Bush to stop the killing.

The protesters were marching 5½ miles from the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where many of the war wounded are treated, to the White House. The demonstrators planned to read names of the war victims and said they hoped to deliver a mock coffin to the president.

“The administration needs to start telling the truth, stop hiding the toll and bring them home now,” said Gordon Clark, 43, of Silver Spring, Md., coordinator of the Iraq Pledge of Resistance. “No one should be dying on a false case for war.”

On Sunday, about 250 activists marched in Dover, Del., singing songs and carrying signs that read “Support Our Troops, Bring Them Home.” They stood outside Dover Air Force Base, home to the nation’s largest military mortuary, where the bodies of more than 550 U.S. soldiers who died in Iraq have been processed and prepared for return to their families.

Prayers and a tolling bell
Outside the base, demonstrators read the names of the dead, prayed, tolled a bell in their memory and decried the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

Among those participating in the demonstration, which marked this week’s one-year anniversary of the war, were veterans and members of families who have lost loved ones.

Lila Lipscomb of Flint, Mich., mourned her son, Michael Pedersen, 27, a member of the 3rd Infantry Division killed in April when a Black Hawk helicopter crashed during a fire fight.

“For his 28th birthday, the only thing I could give him was a headstone,” Lipscomb said, weeping.

Some of the protesters criticized President Bush for declining to attend any of the funerals for the dead and, continuing the practice of previous administrations, not allowing the public or media to witness the arrival of remains at the Dover mortuary.

“We need to stop hiding the deaths of our young; we need to be open about their deaths; we need to be open about the casualties,” said Jane Bright of West Hills, Calif., whose 24-year-old son, Evan Ashcraft, a sergeant in the 101st Airborne Division, was killed in combat in July.

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