Peaceful Peninsula listens for the echoes of war

Peninsula residents and visitors gathered Sunday night for a peace rally at Gazebo Park in downtown Long Beach. Protesters said they support American troops, but disagree with the war in Iraq. DAMIAN MULINIX photo

LONG BEACH - Cold hands held sticks of wax, and faces were warmed by the glow of dozens of candles Sunday night as close to 50 Peninsula citizens gathered in downtown Long Beach in quiet protest of an impending war in Iraq.

The intent was clear when looking and listening to the people, many with buttons on their coats with the words, "No War" or the familiar dove's foot peace symbol.

"For me, this is driven by my own heart," said Jane Schienle, who organized the event, which took place at the gazebo on the corner of South 3rd St. and Pacific Way. "I think a lot of people who haven't gone through Vietnam can't understand."

People from all walks of life, young and old, gathered in a large circle and began the ceremony with a moment of silent prayer. "We Shall Overcome" was sung and many told stories told about similar times they had lived through and personal feelings that have arisen again. One woman spoke about protesting the night the Vietnam war started.

"Our platform was defeated in the middle of the night," she said in a poetic fashion, "and we paraded, perhaps not with candles, but with huge tears in our eyes while the band played every piece of patriotic music in their repertoire."

Some were veterans of the U.S. military and spoke of visiting the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington D.C. and the tears they shed upon that visit.

"I'm here to protest the war against Iraqi children, the women and the babies that are going to get killed if this war begins," said Dorothy Jolivet, who brought her son, Jason, 9, to the demonstration. "Innocent victims, and it's nonsense."

The subject of patriotism was brought up during the get-together, stemming from some recent allegations that anyone who doesn't support the war in Iraq don't support the U.S. troops who will be involved in such a conflict.

"It's just not true," said Schienle. "I think the best way to support our troops is by having peace."

And though Schienle said she has no immediate plans to organize another vigil in the near future, there are others who hope to keep the ball rolling. One of the attendees suggested a demonstration of that nature be held every Friday night at 7 p.m.

Episcopal Vicar Blaine Hammond of St. Peter's at Peninsula Church Center said that he will be leading "Prayers for Peace" at 12:15 p.m. every Wednesday at the church.

"We need peace," he said Sunday night. "We need people praying for peace."

Schienle said she was turned on to the idea on the website: www.MoveOn.com, which reportedly organized over 6,000 such demonstrations around the world Sunday night, calling it a "Global Vigil for Peace." Schienle said she had only passed it along by word of mouth and was surprised that close to 50 showed - some walking up and joining as it went on.

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