Monday, May 28, 2007

Lewes' Silent Protests are Heard in the New York Times

Those of us who live in Lewes have gotten used to the weekly silent protests that take place each Sunday afternoon at the intersection of Kings Highway and Savannah Road. Today, there's a New York Times article about them: Silence Speaks Volumes at Intersection of Views on Iraq War. (Reg. Req.)

Anti-war protesters began gathering for a silent vigil each week back in 2004. Eventually pro-war demonstrators started to counter them and, for a time, things were fairly ugly.
After the peace vigil began in 2004, a group of counterprotesters began convening across the street. Some of the younger members of that group brought a radio and blared John Philip Sousa marching songs and patriotic music like “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Occasionally they yelled unkind things through a megaphone. At one point, fish guts and manure were strewn along the grass where the peace vigil meets.
Eventually, though, the pro-war side thinned out to one very faithful, but very polite gentleman. He is occasionally joined by others, but the ugliness is gone.

Tommywonk has picked up on one of the central points about this story; that it is possible to disagree civilly with each other about this war. I think that when you find someone on the other side of the question whose beliefs are deeply held, and honestly tested, you generally find the ability to disagree with grace.

I was struck by another aspect of the story. The Times noted that it is appropriate for this sort of protest to take place in a small town, since, it says, small towns have borne the brunt of war casualties.
About half of American military casualties in Iraq have come from towns with fewer than 25,000 residents. Among rural states, Delaware has the second-highest death rate, with 60 deaths per million military-age people, according to an analysis by William O’Hare of the Carsey Institute, a rural research center based at the University of New Hampshire, which has studied the demographics of soldiers fighting in the war.
Of course, we need to bear in mind that this is a rate of deaths, and not an actual number. Delaware's population is still less than million. Still, it is sobering and it led to me to a little searching to see how many Delawareans have lost their lives in this war. According to a casualty database from (I think) the AP and linked from the News Journal Site, 14 men and women who called Delaware home have died. I'm sure there are others whose home state was no loner Delaware, but who have family and friends here.

And this is a good say to point out that even though I oppose this foolish war, and think we were wrong to invade Iraq, I honor these men and women and all the men and women who serve our nation. That our President has made a terrible mistake is not their fault; in fact they suffer the consequences of that mistake and do their best every day to make it right.

Today, as every day, they will be in my thoughts.

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