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Silent vigil at town square for Syria and global peace

In just a few days of planning, a silent vigil has blossomed into a town square event to be held this evening.

Islander Norm Keegel was inspired by MoveOn when he put the word out to have a vigil on Sept. 9.

MoveOn, a national organization that facilitates progressive change through peaceful action, is currently holding a national campaign against military action in Syria.

In the same week that Americans celebrated the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, President Obama announced intentions to strike back at Syria after evidence showed the Syrian government's involvement in the gassing of civilians during the country's ongoing civil war.

In response to potential U.S. involvement in Syria, people in cities around the U.S. are coming together to hold candlelight vigils for peace on Monday, Sept. 9.

Keegel and other community leaders will be hosting a silent vigil of their own at town square, not just for Syria, but in support of universal peace.

"It's that each person who participates will have more of a conscience for peace," Keegel said. "We're holding our lights up for the world to see."

Author Rebecca Wells has also said she will be present in the activities.

"What I'm really moved to speak out against is, trying to dispel darkness with darkness," Wells explained.

"(Dr. King) said you have to dispel darkness with light," she said.

The event will be from 7 to 7:30 p.m. at town square near Bainbridge Island City Hall. Participants will have a brief moment to say a few words of peace as their candle is being lit by the neighbor to their right. The demonstrators will then stand in group silence.

"I do not want to be fooled that war-making will protect or defend (Syrians)," Wells said. "It will just cause more suffering there and cause more suffering here because of the money that will continue to be hemorrhaged into the military."

Wells explained the amount spent on military action should be compared to dollars spent on charitable causes, and the island community should instead direct its attention to sharing beauty like that which islanders are enjoying today with the last weeks of summer.

"We need to remind [Secretary of State John] Kerry, who threw out his war medals, and Obama, who spoke against the war in Iraq, to take a stand on their words and be true leaders and peacemakers," Wells said.

"I think that we do have to let senators [Maria] Cantwell, [Patty] Murray and [Rep. Derek] Kilmer know that we want to vote against bombing," she said.

Proceeding the silent vigil, artists Rick Barrenger and Elizabeth Dequine will sing and lead a dance of peace.

The Bainbridge Island event is one of several vigils planned in the Western Washington region in support for nonviolent action in Syria. Other events are planned in Seattle, Kingston, Bremerton and Burien, among others.

For a complete list on participating communities, visit front.moveon.org.

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