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War is not the path to peace

by Ellen Beth Gill
Ellen's Illinois Tenth Congressional District Blog

As I sat in my office posting my pictures of the Highland Park Vigil for Cindy and the end to the Iraq War, I heard CNN's Aaron Brown in the background. He was trying to make Cindy Sheehan and those supporting her in nationwide vigils seem like a bizarre group of left-wing fringe. But, then again, Aaron Brown wasn't there, was he? That is not what I saw. I saw a couple of hundred or more very mainstream citizens of our district fed up with the death and distruction of the Iraq War, a war based on a lie.

Organizers David Borris of the North Suburban Peace Initiative and Vickie Bailyn of the North Shore Women for Peace simply put a link up on the website and hundreds responded, old, young and somewhere in the middle with their parents, children and pets (no, the DemoCat stayed home, but there were lots of dogs). Most were from Highland Park, but I also found folks from Deerfield, Antioch, Fox Lake, Lake Forest, Mundelein, Vernon Hills and Waukegan. They all filled Port Clinton Square in Downtown Highland Park on a Wednesday night.

I had the sad privilege of holding up the picture of Army First Lieutenant David Giaimo of Waukegan. He died last week when his Humvee hit a landmine. I met his aunt. She was clutching his picture and almost crying. She did not look like she was part of an extremist fringe group to me. She looked like a sad auntie.

David Borris spoke to the crowd. He said that the only way we are going to end the war is to stand up and talk about the human cost, Casey Sheehan and his mother Cindy, along with the other 1834 sons and daughters of grieving mothers and fathers, and the societal impact of the returning soldiers, physically and emotionally damaged, who could come back to this country unable to live their lives, hold jobs, or maintain relationships because of their involvement in this tragedy. He added, "every day, every week, every month another mother losed her child. We will bring the troops home."

After the speech, I went around talking to people. Bill Brown of Highland Park mentioned to me that there are already homeless veterans of this war and other veterans having trouble adjusting, and some suicides. I met one family of 4 generations working for peace. They said that too many people were needlessly dying...what a waste. Mike Simkin, former Moraine Township Democratic Party Chair, said he always felt we should not have invaded Iraq because he knew that the "place was not going to be better when we left." He went on to discuss the terrible cost to the Iraqis and particularly Iraqi women who are bound to lose their freedom under the new leadership.

Some young people came down from Fox Lake because of what they called the "gargantuan" mistake of the Iraq War. They said that the war just doesn't make sense because people need to search for peace in the broader sense of their lives. People need to create and love each other. A nearby man from Antioch added that we never solve problems through war. It is just certain leaders who take the benefit from war and splintering of our society.

The crowd stood along the curb so the passersby could see us. Lots of folks in cars gave the thumbs up sign and waved. We saw no anti-peace signs and met no hecklers.

David spoke again and told the crowd that we were part of a greater group of 1700 vigils energized to stop the war. "This event demands that this administration, department of defense and president be accountable for this loss of life. War is not the path to peace."

Some folks stuck around for a while talking and visiting with their neighbors. Some got ice cream at the nearby Ben and Jerry's. It again became a normal summer night with friends and neighbors, their sad mission completed for the night, in the peaceful town of Highland Park, Tenth Congressional District, Illinois.


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