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Americans Hold Vigils for Dead in Iraq


By CONNIE MABIN
Associated Press Writer
CLEVELAND
The cashier became emotional and speechless when war protester Joseph Mosyjowski bought 2,000 small candles a few weeks ago for a vigil he knew was bound to happen, and she realized they represented each U.S. military death in Iraq.

As she silently scanned each candle, the reality hit: "2,000 stories of 2,000 people whose lives have been cut short through the violence of a war of choice," Mosyjowski said Wednesday as a series of anti-war vigils were held nationwide to mark the milestone.

The U.S. military death toll hit 2,000 on Tuesday, 31 months after the start of the war in March 2003.

For Tiphany Eckert, whose 24-year-old husband, Andy Eckert, of Whitehouse, Ohio, was killed by a roadside bomb in May, the number makes no difference.

"Every life that's lost is just as significant as the one that was lost yesterday and the one that will be lost tomorrow," she said. "It's every time we lose someone that it hits home."

Peace activist Cindy Sheehan said earlier this week she hoped that 2,000 people would attend a Washington vigil throughout the week to represent each American death. Each participant was to receive a wrist bracelet with the name of a fallen soldier.

About 40 demonstrators gathered on Boston Common on Wednesday to protest the war and call for the return of all U.S. military. The protesters said they also were mourning the Iraqi civilians who have died since the start of the war.

In New Hampshire, peace activists putting out a welcome mat for 2008 presidential hopefuls lined it with eight pairs of boots Wednesday, reminding would-be candidates of the eight New Hampshire soldiers who have died in Iraq.

And outside the federal building in downtown Akron, Ohio, about 35 people attended a vigil Wednesday night where war protesters shouted down a President Bush supporter who carried a sign reading "Support Our Troops." Lighted candles representing slain troops were placed along a nearby wall.

But for the father of 20-year-old Marine Lance Cpl. Taylor Prazynski of Fairfield, Ohio, who was killed in Iraq in May, the numbers don't change his support for the war effort.

"We don't want to lose any of them," John Prazynski said. "But we have to finish what we started. We have to accomplish the mission."

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