“Habit — a six-year-long habit and the only thing that will break it is the end of the (Iraq) war,” Reno resident Paula McDonough said at this week’s gathering. McDonough fought the wind fas she wielded a large, upside-down American flag. A young man stopped to ask the meaning of such a seemingly inappropriate display.
“It (the inverted flag) is an international signal of distress,” explained Iraq war critic Mark Hedert. “I’m a Vietnam vet intimately connected with the heartbreak of war. Patriotic Americans were sent with good intentions into an illegal and unfounded war- again.”
Folk songs, prayers and a moment of silence honored the more than 4,000 American troops killed so far in the Iraq conflict. Vigils are held each Monday at the courthouse from 5:30 to 6 p.m.
Long-time activist Lisa Stiller hopes to re-vitalize the local peace movement with an International Day of Peace on Sept. 21 at Wingfield Park in Reno. Stiller hopes the free celebration will stimulate citizen involvement and volunteerism in local non-profit organizations.
“We think it’s time to do something for peace right here at home,” Stiller said on Tuesday. Stiller said community service groups are invited to take advantage of free booths at the event.
“Getting involved in our community, working to make it better in any way, is at the heart of creating a culture of peace,” Stiller said in a press release. Organizations already committed to the event include the Boys & Girls Club with local artists and musicians providing creative activities and live entertainment.
Stiller said she has attempted to reach across cultural lines and is awaiting responses froom the Hispanic, black, Jewish and Muslim communities. Community service icon Evelyn Mount has been invited to collect donations and volunteers for her free food distribution program. An ESL (English as a Second Language) home-tutoring group has committed to the event.
Free lunch will be served by Food Not Bomb volunteers across the street at Barbara Bennett Park, Stiller said. No food or other products will be sold at the non-commercial peace event.
According to Stiller, the event is the brainchild of Steve Gifford, co-owner of Magic Prism Tie Dye in Sparks.
“I was tired of the anti-war events,” Gifford said on Wednesday. “I thought it was time to do something positive and hopeful instead of just tearing down the government and Bush.”“
The Peace Action 2008 project is sponsored by sponsored by Sierra Interfaith Action for Peace, Catholic Life, Peace and Justice Commission and the Social Justice Council of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. To obtain a booth or other information, call Stiller at 232-2823.
Sparks resident Vanessa Aramanda summed it up for Gifford.
“If you focus on war, you get more war. If you want peace, then focus on peace.”