Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Five years, and they’re still there

The Bethlehem Peace Watch

First Post

An article from the Waterbury Newspaper:

Five years, and they’re still there

Peace group unites weekly in Bethlehem


BETHLEHEM — A local group has braved the elements every Sunday to hold a vigil on the town Green to bring an end to the bloody conflict in the Middle East. Now that group, the Bethle­hem Peace Watch, has reached a milestone, as Sunday marked the fifth year that at least one of its members has stood on the small grass island at the town’s center. On a typical Sunday, mem­bers huddle in a circle and string a brightly colored ban­ner printed with the word “PACE,” which is the Italian translation of peace, said Mau­reen McDermott, a group mem­ber. “The goal is the war ends and we don’t get into another one,” she said. See VIGIL, Page B2

VIGIL: Group hears both cheers and jeers

Continued from B1

On Sunday, members shared the latest progress on an at­tempt to establish a federal De­partment of Peace, which sup­porters hope would be a bal­ance to the Department Defense. Members believe people are tired of the U.S. involvement in wars in Iraq and elsewhere. But group members admit that it’s difficult to measure their ac­complishments over the past five years. Wars continue and violence persists. “There has to be some kind of commitment or else nothing is going to happen,” McDermott said.

One of the group’s first mem­bers, the late Bernice Sherlock, was a U.S. Army nurse in Japan during World War II. She wit­nessed the devastation caused by the atomic bomb in Nagasa­ki. That sight left an unforget­table impression on her that led to her involvement in the group and the eventual growth of what it is today.

Most Sundays the group con­sists of four or five members. But near the holidays they can draw a crowd of about 40.

McDermott recalled a Sun­day vigil in January when rain soaked through her clothing. Accompanied by another mem­ber, Ewa Gierat, the women were cold and shivering, but they were there. And that’s the key purpose for the group — their presence.

The occasional passing mo­torist will let out a honk to show support; the group will wave back. Members have also suffered the occasional insult along the way, including being labeled as terrorists and communists. There was even one man who would drive by and yell obscen­ities out his window. But mem­bers try to take the guff in stride. “You can’t afford to take um­brage,” said McDermott. “It would be counter to what we are doing.” Visit http://www.rep-am.com/ to comment on this story.

Copyright (c) 2007 Republican-American 12/03/2007

Some photos from the last five years:

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