The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

March 16, 2008

War protesters see changing mood

Vigil protesters see changing mood

By Asten Smith

LEWISBURG -- Dale Hurliman, of Beaver Springs, stood on the corner of Third and Market streets in Lewisburg in silent protest on Saturday, as he has for the past five years since the war in Iraq began.

"We have been here every Saturday from noon until 1 o'clock, standing vigil in front of the post office in Lewisburg in opposition to the war," Hurliman said.

This particular Saturday, he was joined by others lending their support to mark the fifth anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq. Joseph Manzi, of Lewisburg, with the Center for Nonviolent Living, encouraged others who oppose the war to come out and join Hurliman and fellow protesters who stand their ground every Saturday. Hoping the messages displayed on the signs they held, reading: "Bush lied, a million died," and "War is not the answer, now or ever," will inspire the public to take action in ending the war.

"We're out here to encourage people to think about the cost of the war -- the human cost, the financial cost which is now estimated to be somewhere in the trillions," said Manzi. "We're just hoping that people will try to get through to their congressmen."

Hurliman also hopes raising awareness through demonstration during election season will create an opportunity to end the war. "We need a new president," he said, "and I think we need new people in Congress who will stand up to the president, because that's Congress' job and they haven't done it."

According to Manzi, last year at this time the CNL took a written pool of pedestrians passing by and found out of the 100 people surveyed, 87 percent were against the Iraq war. Despite what he says is a strong opposition to the war by the public, nothing has been done by the government to end it. "We don't see any effort (from the government) so we're kind of frustrated.," Manzi said. "It's almost 4,000 Americans dead and we don't know how many Iraqis are dead. What we've done to that country is unforgiveable in my opinion because they are actually worse off now than they were before we invaded."

The signs that read, "Honk for Change" and "Honk for Peace" caused sporadic bursts from the horns of passing motorists expressing their support. Hurliman said since the war has reached the half-decade mark, the reaction from the public to the peace vigil has changed.

"Originally we had some antagonistic response but that has dwindled recently and now we're getting a lot of positive response I think from the community, passersby, pedestrians, as well as motorists," he said. "People are realizing that the war begun on lies. Nothing that (President) Bush said was true and furthermore, the war is to no advantage to the U.S."

Karl Patten was also among the protesters on Saturday, and began similar protests on the same street corner in 1967 during the Vietnam War. Despite not feeling well, he felt compelled to come out to the vigil because of what he saw as its purpose: "To bring people's attention to the fact that there's a terrible war going on and people are getting killed."

Evelyne Nearhoof has seen the impact of war on a personal level. Her son served in the Vietnam war in the Navy as a medic. The 90-year-old resident said the war in Iraq has gone on for so long that it has become difficult to pull out American troops. "We're in it and we don't know how to get out of it, " she said, adding citizens need to "hope and pray for peace and pray for a good leader."