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Voicing opposition: Standing for Peace is a noisy ritual

Every Saturday morning, this eclectic group of South Whidbey citizens stands for peace at Bayview Corner. - Betty Freeman / The Record
Every Saturday morning, this eclectic group of South Whidbey citizens stands for peace at Bayview Corner.
— image credit: Betty Freeman / The Record

“Civilized people choose peace,” states the sign held by Barb Hutton.

Hutton and about 20 other men and women regularly stand for peace for an hour on Saturday mornings at Bayview Corner. Unlike the Women in Black who stand in silence, this group is vocal and engages with the passing traffic.

“99 percent of the people going by are supportive of us,” said Dave Anderson.

Many people driving by honk and wave, give a thumbs-up or flash the peace sign at the group.

A few give the one-finger salute though, and Anderson reported, “We had one guy moon us once.”

World War II veteran Roy Foster, 86, has been speaking out for peaceful solutions to world problems for over 50 years. He acknowledged that some people might think that by standing for peace, this group doesn’t support our troops.

“As a veteran, I support the troops, but I think it’s horrible that they keep sending them back for more than one tour of duty in war zones,” said Foster. “Nothing could be more supportive of our troops than wanting to bring them home.”

Most of the group’s members have been standing for peace since 2002, through the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, in protest of drone strikes, and in support of tougher gun laws here at home. They bring homemade signs and flags that speak to the various ways violence is tolerated as a solution to problems.

Frank Allen has been standing for peace “for about 7 or 8 years.”

“I like to stand up and be counted when I know something is wrong,” said Allen. “I believe in peace, and that war is a horrible tool used to control the world.”

Rich Tamler hoists a big white peace sign with trailing American flags. Tamler said, “I bear witness to what our country has done and continues to do. We all need to think about how we’ve accepted violence as a necessary evil.”

Clancy Dunnigan said he often wears an orange jumpsuit with a brown bag over his head to call attention to the fact that the U.S. military is still “using enhanced interrogation and torture against political prisoners, such as at Abu Ghraib.”

Dunnigan’s sign reads “Concept: Teach respect.”

“When the Iraq war started, I sat down with my son who was just a kid then and explained the cost of war to moms and dads who’ll never see their sons and daughters again,” said Dunnigan. “In addition to the cost in human lives both from combat and suicide, the Iraq war has also been the most expensive war in our country’s history.”

Gloria Koll’s sign reads “Harm No Child.”

“I’ve been standing for peace on Saturdays for 11 years,” said Koll. “I’m here so people passing by will remember war is still going on and to keep my own self awareness of war so I don’t forget either.”

Koll’s husband Bill is also a regular at the Saturday morning rally, as is another couple, Dan and Karen Erlander.

Bill Koll said, “I’m here to keep passing traffic aware that there still are problems in the world.”

Tom Carey brings his friendly golden retriever Adora Lee to the Saturday peace rally. He believes there is “no good war, and that all wars are tragedies injurious to everybody.”

A veteran, Carey has been protesting war since the 1970s.

“War is terrorism,” said Keith Anderson.

Members of this eclectic group regularly engage in passionate political conversations with each other while they’re making a visual statement to passing cars.

“Peace is patriotic,” said Lorraine Smalley, 86, who said she comes to Bayview on Saturday mornings to “bond with others who support peace.”

“It’s a wonderful place to be with like-minded people who believe in peace,” Gloria Koll said. “Frankly, it’s a lot of fun.”

 

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