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DeKalb Peace Vigils running strong

A short story of our weekly Peace Gathering.
Two hours west of Chicago amongst the fields of corn is the university town of DeKalb. On Hiroshima day of last year a group of 17 local ant-war folks came to gether in very cold weather to form the first of eleven months of steadfast weekly peace vigils. Standing on the downtown intersection of Lincoln Highway and First Streets we have picketed for the five o clock hour, often meeting afterwards at someone's house for soup and conversation, though since the anniversary of September 11th we have had too large of a group. On S-11 we made a special push and had about 130 people come out and since have held at about 50 people weekly. An interesting thing that I have noticed which I think contributes to the Vigil's success is that there are a lot of people that come and go, but they often come back as their schedule allows. No one is pressured, and people generally have a good time talking to others on the picket line. I think it has done a lot to break the silence in our community and coming to the gathering is an elating sense of relief to be able to do something for peace. Though we all know it is but one part, it has turned into not just another building block, but a cornerstone.
The intimidation that I had first been afraid of became humorous very quickly. The time a pick-up drove past with the passenger mooning us sticks out most in our memories. The positives have outweighed the negatives. A couple driving off to their honeymoon saw us and joined us on their return. Though some argumentive people think we're crazy no matter what, there are more than a few that aknowledge a certain respect to our stand.
I think another thing about the Peace Vigil that I really enjoy is that we are such a variety of people; Catholics, Aethiests, Pagans, Quakers, Unitarians, Professors, Students, School teachers, Farmers, Veterans, and so on. Some are strict pacifists, others looser, but still advocating methods of non-violence.
All too often we let ourselves think that we can not do anything, where to start? Well this vigil was started because someone woke up one morning listening to a Public Radio report about two high school girls from an even smaller town standing up during a school assembly and stating their opposition to the bombing of Afghanistan. In the background you could hear other voices joining in, "yeah, me too" they said. I thought of visiting the death camp Dachau in Austria, and of Martin Luther King, and others, and came to the point where I couldn't let myself be silent.
I did not write this story to praise ourselves, but as a testimony to help bring the reader to the point where you can no longer lament at not doing something to honor your conscience. This is not a free country if we are afraid to make a sign and stand on a corner for one hour a week. It's actually a lot of fun. Thanks.



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