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Protesters stand for peace in face of war

As rain turned to sun, some 50 anti-war protesters assembled at the corner of Highway 305 and Winslow Way on Wednesday in quiet protest of the war in Iraq. The vigil marked International Women’s Day, when signed petitions were delivered to the White House and U.S. embassies around the world through the Women Say No to War campaign.  - JULIE BUSCH photo
As rain turned to sun, some 50 anti-war protesters assembled at the corner of Highway 305 and Winslow Way on Wednesday in quiet protest of the war in Iraq. The vigil marked International Women’s Day, when signed petitions were delivered to the White House and U.S. embassies around the world through the Women Say No to War campaign.
— image credit: JULIE BUSCH photo

Women in Black marked its fourth year of silent defiance of the Iraq conflict.

Bundled up against the biting wind, yet standing tall, some 50 anti-war protesters assembled at the corner of Highway 305 and Winslow Way on Wednesday evening to protest the war in Iraq.

Shortly after the rain gave way to sunshine, members of Bainbridge Island Women in Black and like-minded islanders began a well-mannered, 75-minute vigil to expression their views on the country’s continued presence in Iraq.

The event marked International Women’s Day, when petitions calling for an end to war were delivered to the White House and U.S. embassies around the world through the Women Say No to War campaign. It also was the fourth anniversary of the Bainbridge group.

“There are so many feelings that I have about what I see is the criminality of the war, the outrageousness of it,” said Bobbi Morgan, a member of Women in Black. “Seeing the faces of U.S. soldiers killed for this illegal action, it breaks my heart. This is one of the few ways we have to express how we feel. I value the opportunity to dissent.”

Although the weather snuffed hopes of a candlelight vigil, protesters held signs aloft as a somber drum beat filled the air. Most of the participants were in their 30s and up, with one youngster and more women than men in attendance.

Some stood in silence; others engaged in quiet conversations. One woman held a bouquet of flowers; three others donned white masks, including a woman who clutched a doll.

The protest drew neither police nor individuals in favor of the war. Quite a few drivers honked their horns and gave a thumbs up gesture or a shout of support as they drove by. One protester noted a person waving a less-than-elegant finger in their direction.

A man walking hurriedly by said, “Thank you for doing this.”

Suzann Demianew and Barbara Kowalski, members of Women in Black for three years, stood together. As often as they can, they come to this corner to deliver the same message on Fridays.

“We need to get off the computer and have our bodies out in person,” said Demianew, whose son got out of the Navy before the Iraq War. “I had to do something.”

Kowalski was delighted by the size of the crowd.

“We have made a mark as Women in Black on the island,” she said. “It’s truly wonderful, a validation of what we believe in.”

Bob Burkholder, a 101st Airborne Division veteran, has been standing with Women in Black for four years, on the street corner and in front of Town & Country Market.

“I try to live what I believe,” he said. “War is a last resort. It’s an admission of failure.”

Gil Bailey, a retired newspaper reporter, called Iraq “a bad war. A bad place. And it started by lies.”

In the early 1970s, Bailey covered former President Richard Nixon’s impeachment hearings for a trio of California papers.

“(Nixon) didn’t start a war with lies and let a city be washed away by hurricanes,” Bailey said. “What Bush is doing makes what Nixon did look like a misdemeanor.”

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