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Dedicated to peace; South Whidbey groups honored
Theirs is a mission of peace, and some have been at it for more than a decade.
Meeting at the Bayview Park and Ride every Saturday, rain or shine, they lobby for their cause. Many wave homemade signs with anti-war slogans, such as “Schools, not bombs,” or “War is not the answer.” One man holds a colossal wooden peace sign, a woman the American flag. Some chat happily with friends, others stand mute.
They are the Saturday Morning Peace Vigil and the Women in Black, two groups working in their own ways to accomplish a mutual goal: an end to war.
“We want to say thank you,” said Tom Ewell, of the Whidbey Island Friends Meeting commonly known as the Quakers.
The group, along with the Whidbey Island Fellowship of Reconciliation, celebrated the peace groups’ long efforts this past Saturday, May 24, in a ceremony following the weekend’s demonstration. Ewell said their consistency and dedication haven’t gone unnoticed, and credited them and other similar groups across the country for avoiding a U.S. war in Syria.
“That was a big deal, and it’s because of people like you who said, ‘No war,’ ” Ewell said.
The Saturday Morning Peace Vigil was formed in 2002 as the country was gearing up for war in Iraq in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Later, South Whidbey residents Peggy and Baird Bardarson recruited Bob Kuehn, Linda Morris, Margaret Moore, and others to stand with them. While numbers have since waned, at times up to 150 people demonstrated with the group along Highway 525.
Dan Freeman, a Clinton resident, has been a member of the group and demonstrating every Saturday for about eight years. While the commitment burns up an hour of his weekend, he believes it’s a small price to pay for the promotion of peace.
“It’s to make a conscious presence,” Freeman said.
The U.S. seems to be in “a perpetual state of war,” he said, and that the money to fund them would be far better spent on education.
“My favorite sign is my one that says, ‘Budget problems? End the wars,’ ” Freeman said. “It’s really quite simple.”
As for the South Whidbey Women in Black, they began standing in silent vigil in 2006, inspired by the Coupeville Women in Black. Lynn Hays, Morris and Shanti began with a small group in Langley.
Advocating for peace hasn’t always been easy, said Morris, a founding member of the Saturday group and the Women in Black. Their mission, their messages, even their presence has raised the ire of passing motorists, but it’s been worth it, she said.
“We’ve gone from a lot of middle fingers to honks of support,” Morris said.
In a later interview, she said being recognized by the Quakers and friends group was “fabulous,” but that just being out there is its own reward. Like-minded goals have long since developed into warm friendships, she said.
“For many of us who have been in the trenches so long, we love each other, and love getting together,” Morris said.
The Saturday Morning Peace Vigil meets at 10 a.m. every Saturday, and the Women in Black gather the first Friday of the month in the late afternoon.