Monday, March 10, 2008

A Circle of Peace

photo by KFOX-TV

On Saturday afternoon from 2-4:00 p.m., I attended a local Circle of Peace. Put on by a coalition of El Paso groups, it commemorated those Americans and Iraqis who have suffered and died as a result of our war there the past five years.

I don't remember why it was celebrated a week earlier than the actual fifth anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq, but I do know it wasn't out of fear the war would be over within the next week before its actual anniversary date.

SFC Medina (ret.) shown here standing proudly (on left) in his army uniform he hadn't worn
in 40 years! Veteran of the Korean and Vietnam wars, Sgt. Medina described vividly the often
gut wrenching memory of his war experiences. (Dada photo)

In what turned out to be a beautiful afternoon in Memorial Park, over 100 people listened to a number of impressive guest speakers including present and past war's veterans. Speeches were given, poetry recited, music played and sung.

Placing candles in the names of fallen soldiers to make a peace symbol (Dada photo)

One of the highlights of the afternoon was the reading of the names of fallen soldiers from our local Fort Bliss as a candle was lit for each and placed into a peace circle over which taps was played.

There were protesters against those gathered in observance of the war's fifth anniversary. Shown below are two of a crowd that ultimately swelled to three as they closely observed the Circle of Peace proceedings from a grassy knoll overlooking the gathering.

photo by KFOX-TV

Mrs. Dada, who worked as a member of the planners for this event, went up to welcome the protesters to the peace gathering but reported the gentlemen pictured as quite aggressive. Gathering he came looking for war not peace, Mrs. Dada bade them a pleasant afternoon and excused herself.

One of the signs presented by the protesters reminded all in attendance that they were not in Berkeley. It seemed a bit superfluous. (I was pretty certain no one in attendance Saturday mistook El Paso for Berkeley.)

As far as any differences in their support of the troops and ours, that was minor, i.e., while the 100+ participants in the Circle of Peace support the end of the war and expedient and safe return of American troops, these protesters advocate the continued deaths and maiming of American soldiers and innocent Iraqis in an endless war based on lies, thus illustrating the different ways one can support troops, I suppose.


azgoddess said...

nice pictures and commentary!

eProf2 said...

Welcome back. A vote of appreciation for your participation in the Circle of Peace. And, Mrs. Dada, too.

D.K. Raed said...

I'm so glad you posted this! It reminds all of us how desperately we need to end this war, though I wish it didn't take such somber circumstances to bring people together for a Circle of Peace. We are fast losing our souls to this monster; some appear very far gone indeed to sport snide signs about Berkeley. Mrs Dada was very brave to try & welcome the war supporters to the gathering. The guy does not look very pleasant to deal with; he must've been hoping for a Circle of Death.

You all do such good work there in El Paso. The pictures are a real bonus making me feel like I was there. Alas! Instead, I was attending a tennis tourney in Vegas, where the only protests are challenges to ball calls ...

Fran said...

Nice post! Tempting to slap your forehead & say DOH! I thought it WAS Berkeley! I must have taken a wrong turn!!!

Seems odd that the peace movement has to keep explaining itself.... yes stopping the war IS supporting the troops in the best way.
Is that not blatently obvious?

Kudos to your community for doing this vigil. Ours is coming up this weekend. Last year we had about 2000 people & Ehren Watada marched & spoke. He had to speak kind of cryptically, as the military slapped him with additional charges after he spoke openly at a Vets for Peace gathering. His actions speak for him. He refused to go to the Iraq war.

Anyway this time we are tying into the University, so we hope to have at least the same or more. There will be a march, gathering & a dusk candelight vigil & reading of the names of more than 100 Oregon soldiers who died & Iraqi names as well.

A few years ago we had some skinhead black leather guys show up with a professionally made large banner that said *these people hate america* & stood in front of us. Lots of peace flag people gathered around & obsturcted his sign. (on a busy downtown streetcorner).

I quipped... if the sign said *these people hate George Bush's america* it would be accurate.

Ahh yes the circle of peace... where's that roadmap?

dada said...

az! Hi, nice to see you.

And to the other commenters, thanks for your thoughts. Fran...those skinheads: I'm sure they were just a wee bit sensitive having, as they had, probably all just returned from Iraq.

I'm sorry to say that despite far more publicity for this event than last year's, their were a 1/3 fewer participants. Of course, as we were reminded, this isn't Berkeley (nor is it Eugene - sadly). Oh, and small note of probably large significance: Our local EP Times did NOT print any notice of this event beforehand as had been requested and submitted. (This dovetails with my paranoia of why El Paso Ind. School District turned down Mrs. Dada request to place counter recruitment information in HS counselor's offices as an alternative to the recruitment materials and those handsome young men and women in uniform with access to campuses. Denied because "it might offend the sensitivities of students of Ft. Bliss military family's HS teenagers." - meeting with the superintendent is being requested.)

Viva the Reich! (ah, that's how we say it down here in the border region, right eprof?)

D.K. Raed said...

Viva la derecha? Donde estan los derechos?!?

Fran said...

Good luck to Ms, Dada with the anti recruitment stuff...... anti recruitment deserves equal time.

Oh in a perfect world- the military would be sued for false advertising re recruitment.