Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Ashland Peace Vigil Week 52, One Year on the Corner, January 15, 2008
Some of the Peace Vigil contingent. Click on the pictures to enlarge them
Today, January 15, 2008, the Peace Vigil in Ashland marked the 52nd week, or one year, since we started standing on the corner for peace. We decided to give one hour per week towards letting others know that we want the war to end. There was talk of a way to mark this anniversary. No one seemed to come up with a way to make it special. No one wanted a celebration of the fact that concerned individuals chose to stand on a corner asking for peace. They stood throughout the cold temperatures of winter, the snow, the rain, the heat and humidity, the wind as well as the pleasant times when it would have been much more fun and fulfilling to spend time at home gardening or with family.
It is sad and also not a reason to celebrate the fact that 3,923 of our fine service men and women have been killed to date, and hundreds of thousands of people have died, families broken, lives shattered and money wasted on death and destruction. We started the Vigil over three and a half years after the war started. Now, one more year has past, and soon, we will have been at war for five years. I heard one presidential candidate say he thought we’d be in Iraq for a hundred years and wouldn’t mind the prospect of it.
So, we didn’t do anything special. We just stood there, carrying our signs that ask only for peace, our American flag and ourselves exposed to the cold damp Winter wind, all eight of us.
It still mystifies me that in a years time, no one has engaged us in conversation, in a reasonable manner, and explained why they disagree with the idea of peace. We get many horns honking, exuberant waves of approval and the peace signs along with the occasional thumbs down, flipped middle finger and the ever popular anti demonstrator “Get a job” battle cry of attack out an open car window, but no dialogue. One person looked at me, the Vietnam combat veteran, carrying an American flag and called me a moron. I would like to think that a soldier, a warrior, would never say such a thing to a brother in arms who chooses to carry the flag of his or her country proudly as they state their opinion.
Standing for Peace.
We asked, in the beginning, that participants keep the message to one issue. That issue is that we want peace in the world. We hold no signs, and haven’t in the year that the Vigil has been running, that demean any elected official, blame, wish harm to, ask for impeachment of, berate or lampoon the sitting president, or this current administration. We just say peace.
Yet the few that wish to attack us with their words and gestures, don’t explain why they do so. As I’ve thought in earlier articles about this subject, they really don’t pay attention to what we’re doing and stereotype any demonstration that says the word peace as being against our troops and our government.
We’ll continue on Tuesdays at 4:30 p.m. We’ll be on the corner of Chapple and Main Street in Ashland, WI. We’ll ask for peace. We’ll take what those that disagree with peace sling our way as far as the words and gestures. We’ll endure with a little more determination of what Mother Nature throws our way in the form of weather. We’ll be non violent and simply state our case in one simple universally understood word.
Two of the faithful, standing for Peace.
In the past year, we have averaged 11.3 people for every week of the Ashland Peace Vigil. That includes the eight we had there today. We had a higher turnout when the weather was warmer. When it got cold and the holidays were around, the numbers fell. The summertime saw the young college age people leave the area, some never returned. 588 people came to the corner during the year to stand and say they wanted peace.
The Vigil will continue. I will be leaving Ashland for a while to work with another group that sends a similar message. I will not be on the corner for a while and I’m not sure if anyone will be. This action started and still is a non organized group of citizens that chooses to attend. There are no meetings, there is no club, no leader or organizer. It is simply a movement of concerned residents that want peace, and we wish peace to all.
Cold and windy this January day in Ashland, Wisconsin.