We are glad Mr. Minolfo has noted our Vigils for Peace in the past and are not sure why he no longer sees us on Whiskey Road (“Where Have All the Protesters Gone?” May 18).¬ We are there in heat, cold, rain and snow – as we have been since 2004 and will continue to be, through Republican and Democratic administrations, until these wars are ended. A couple of years ago we moved our vigils from Wednesdays to the first and third Mondays of each month. Perhaps Mr. Minolfo doesn’t drive by there on Mondays, which would explain why he no longer sees us.
Women In Black is a worldwide network of individuals committed to justice and nonviolence.¬ Although it has roots in South America (mothers of “the disappeared”) and South Africa, the movement as we know it began in Jerusalem in 1988 when Israeli women began standing in silent protest against their government’s injustice toward the Palestinian people.¬ There are now vigils in many countries on every continent, where men and women stand up for peace and justice. ¬ Here in South Carolina, in addition to Aiken, Women In Black stand before the state capitol in Columbia every Wednesday and on Hilton Head Island on Saturdays.
We support our military. We are grateful for the profound sacrifices our soldiers and their families make to protect our country. These wars have cost America more than 4,300 of our sons and daughters, injured more than 29,000 and cost more than a trillion dollars so far. It is important that we continue to pay for the damaged lives of our injured soldiers for the rest of their lives, a cost projected to reach at least $3 trillion. This debt will be paid, however, with the futures of our children and grandchildren.
We do NOT support invading and occupying other countries and killing their citizens. In Iraq alone, civilian casualties are estimated well in excess of a hundred thousand, with nearly three million displaced among a population of only 30 million. Americans often forget the Iraqi and Afghan men, women and children who have died and those who continue to suffer in these wars. Now that constant bombing no longer fills our airwaves in every news broadcast, we have lost sight of the blanket destruction of their critical infrastructure of roads, hospitals, schools, homes and businesses.
We believe that holding the power of life and death in one’s hands, as does the Commander in Chief of the United States, is a sacred trust, one that should not be wielded carelessly or under false pretenses.¬ Before our citizen soldiers are ordered into harm’s way, all other means of resolution must be pursued to the fullest extent humanly possible.¬ Only then, after all other efforts have been exhausted, can the violence which is war even be considered.¬ We believe this burden of proof was not met by the president who started the first two wars, nor has it been met by the one who continues them and has now engaged us in armed conflict in Libya and who has threatened even more military incursions into Pakistan.
Women In Black is strictly nonpartisan, as is its local sister organization, Aiken Peace.¬ We are opposed to wars no matter who starts them. We believe there is a better way to resolve conflict than through brute force and invite anyone who supports peace and nonviolence to stand with us. You will find us on Whiskey Road by Bethlehem Lutheran Church from 4:30 to 6 p.m. on the first and third Monday of every month – rain or shine. We have plenty of signs, or bring your own.
Lynne HarrisonLeslie Key
Mary Elaine Lyons