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Introductory Words for Peace Vigil 3/19/09
March 19, 2009, 9:11 pm
Filed under: Social Action & Social Justice | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Introductory Words for Peace Vigil
By Roger Jones, Thursday, March 19, 2009
Vigil Hosted by Unitarian Universalist Society of Sacramento’s UU Peacemakers

Good evening. Welcome to all of you, and thanks for showing up. Thank you to the organizers, volunteers, musicians, sculptors and other artists.
My name is Roger Jones and I have been serving in the role of Family Minister at this church since August. The Reverend Doug Kraft, our Lead Minister, is not here tonight due to a family commitment, but he sends his greetings and his thanks for your attendance.
This is the third annual peace vigil we have hosted. Who was here last year? The year before that? Who is here for the first time?
This is also the anniversary, the 6th anniversary, of this nation’s invasion of Iraq. It happened in the midst of lies and fear-mongering perpetrated by our elected leaders but not without protest, across the nation and around the world.
It is almost unbearable to consider all of the destruction, grief and misery our government has caused both our American military families and the people of Iraq. It is cause for outrage that this has been done with our tax dollars and in our name.
Now we have cause for hope. A year ago the Bush/Cheney administration had engineered an escalation called a surge. A year ago we were in the midst of a hard-fought primary election campaign. What a difference a year makes. The country elected a candidate for president who had opposed the invasion of Iraq from the start, and who said we had no business there. Maybe some of you had a hand in making that election happen!
Last November this country also elected a vice president skilled in the realm of foreign relations and wise about the need for diplomacy in all international matters. And both of them show faith in our founding principles and loyalty to the words of the United States Constitution. This new administration repudiates torture instead of shielding its ineffectiveness and cruelty in double-speak.
Of course, our new leaders are not perfect or pure. The political nature of their jobs makes that an unrealistic hope. That’s why they have you…and me and others like us. We keep on watching and listening, reading and learning, writing and speaking up. We keep on standing up… for the values that matter to us…standing up for progress toward non-violence, equity and justice.
This is what a vigil is all about. It’s about staying vigilant! It’s so easy to be complacent, given the change in presidents. It is easy to be distracted, as so many are by a financial system in collapse and unemployment rising. This is understandable. But we cannot let it be ignored that the nation still has thousands of men and women in harm’s way, serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. We cannot forget that over 4,000 have perished and many thousands more have been devastated physically, emotionally, and spiritually by what has been done to them and by what their country led them to do. We cannot forget.
Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have died. Iraqi families endure deprivation and illness, they flee their homeland regions, and they live in fear. We cannot forget that. Our tax dollars continue to fund the mercenary soldiers of military contractors. We cannot forget that. Our country continues to build bombs and deal out weapons to a world full of eager buyers. Let us not forget any of this. By our gathering here, let our spirit of vigilance be renewed.
We call this candle light vigil a celebration of hope. Yet it is also a time of grief. We gather here with a diversity of emotions, feelings, and experiences. In a few moments we will be invited to speak briefly, to speak from the heart, and to listen from the heart to what one another might say. Later on we’ll hear briefly from a few local organizations. And of course, we will sing together, and we will hear others sing to us. Thank you again.

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