Citizens Stage Silent Vigil For Peace In Berlin

BERLIN – Military veterans and longtime activists came
together in front of the Atlantic Hotel in Berlin Monday night on the fourth
anniversary of the Iraq war to hold a vigil for peace.

“We were here when they started the war,” said Navy
veteran Don Ward, who served on a fast attack submarine, the Nautilus, in the
1960s. “That’s why we’re coming back.”

Other veterans echoed the same sentiments.

“We want peace,” said Dick Weaver, a veteran of the Air
Force.

About 30 people gathered with signs and candles for an
hour on Monday evening to show their support for peace in Iraq.

“It’s not political,” said Weaver.

Others reiterated the gathering was not intended to make
any political statement.

“It’s apolitical,” said Ward. “It’s a silent vigil for
peace.”

To some, vigil organizer Lisa Petrilli comes from the
other side of the coin, with a history of peace activism stretching back to
childhood.

“I’ve been protesting since I was seven years old. I
protested with my parents against the Vietnam war,” she said, holding a neon
yellow sign reading, “Let’s try peace and justice.”

Petrilli organized a vigil in the same spot in front of
the Atlantic Hotel four years ago, when the U.S. invaded Iraq and the war
began. With the fourth anniversary approaching, she decided that she and her
husband would hold a vigil Monday night even if no one else came.

“I’ve been against the war since the very beginning. We’re
going into year five. The war just needs to end. We need to bring our boys
home,” Petrilli said. “I feel very strongly war is not the answer.”

Peace protesting in Worcester County is not limited to the
anniversary vigils. A handful of anti-war activists venture out to the Route 50
Park and Ride every Friday between 4:30 and 5:30 to peacefully protest.

“All summer, all winter,” said Millie Ward. “We’ve had
some cold days. We’re very committed.”

They urge cars to honk if they agree that the Iraq war
needs to end. Ward said that the small group gets a lot more positive than
negative feedback.

“A year ago, it would be one out of 100 [cars], now it’s
one of 200,” he said of negative responses.

The activists have captured the attention of drivers in
the area. “I think some people actually look for us,” said Ward.

Not all of them are on the same page with the protesters,
but there have been few confrontations.

“Sometimes people will stop and want an argument but it’s
just peace we’re seeking,” said Marge Sebour. “Sometimes people stop and ask
questions. We just really believe in the peace movement.”

Others say the peace movement has gained momentum as the
war continues.

“It
just has snowballed,” said Petrilli. 

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