Since November 2002 I’ve participated in over 200 protests and vigils for peace and against dubya’s war. 231 to be exact – and the number of participants has ranged from 1 to over 2000.
I last held a vigil on our campus in April almost a year ago. I last participated in one of the regular Kansas City protests this past June. We stopped doing so in the period after that because we all had work to do toward November 2, 2004.
It’s been almost two years since the start of the war. Tomorrow is the anniversary of “Shock and Awe”. Not a very auspicious occasion. Not with 1521 American dead and more than 11285 American wounded (as of today). This anniversary weighs heavily on those of us who spoke out against this war. I wonder if it weighs as heavily on those who implemented it.
As the anniversary approached my good colleague asked me if I would participate in a vigil at our old spot in front of the First Amendment plaque next to the flag pole on the Quad. This, for both of us, for the first time in almost a year. I replied that I would not organize it (we have to notify our campus police of “public speech activities” 24 hours in advance), but I would attend – the thought of starting in again conjured up the memories of the last two years.
I had received word from another colleague that a student organized peace group was going to stage a peace rally in front of the Student Union on campus from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. today. I decided to attend. My colleague later called me to say that instead of standing vigil on the Quad he would attend this student run event.
It was breezy and cool today, though the sun was out. I arrived a few minutes before the start of the event and met one of the organizers – a student who also happened to be an Orthodox priest. The students distributed flyers and black ribbons with pins to passersby and participants. I affixed one to my sweater.
It was a quiet event, fitting for the anniversary it marked. The war crowd didn’t seem to be around or aware. Several speakers addressed a small crowd of the interested, the curious, and passersby that didn’t exceed twenty in number at any one time. This is a triumph of sorts on our campus. And, it is a good sign that students organized this event.
On Sunday we will attend the commemoration at the J.C. Nichols fountain in the park at 47th and Main in Kansas City. It’s the least we can do.