3/25/2009

236 Consecutive Sundays and then The Silent Vigil ended.



Some of you who read Preludium regularly know that very occasionally I have posted something about the ongoing Silent Vigil here in Lewes, the village by the bay and the big water. It has been part of my Sunday schedule for almost 4 1/2 years now. When in town I've joined others - Kathryn, life companion, and Patricia who started it all -in this silent vigil to remember the human cost of war. The group has been as few as seven or eight, once 140, but mostly has involved 12-20 people. Veterans of three wars have been on the line along with peace protesters from at least two.

We have been faithful to the focus: the human costs of war. Now we are moving on to whatever we are next called to do in support of peace.

Our last Sunday made the front page of the News Journal Kent and Sussex edition, above the fold. The article can be read HERE.

The experience has been as profound as the action has been simple. Kathryn spent many hours putting together a presentation about the experience and for several hours on Saturday I helped her work through the pictures and articles. I didn't know the effect would be of seeing all those pictures again and again - pictures of people who have come on the line and have left, the work and memorial of writing down names, and holding numbers, and standing out there. On Sunday when I got up in church to ask a prayer of thanksgiving for all those who stood those many Sundays I choked up and the tears came.

Here is a video of the 4 1/2 year Lewes Silent Vigil.



On the line this last Sunday of the Vigil there were 30 of us. Across the street were the two who for several of those years have steadfastly believed we were wrong to be there and dishonoring those who have died by numbering them.

The Wilmington News Journal online edition (March 23, 2009) also has other pictures of the last day of the vigil. Among them is this one. (Photo(c) News Journal photographer Chuck Snyder, used with permission) Who is that old guy?

At the end of the silence, I walked down the line and said, "Where ever you go, what ever you do, hold the line." Amen.

7 comments:

  1. I am reminded of the vigil that was held each Sunday at noon on the common in Amherst, MA during the Viet Nam war. One of the frequent participants was Fr. David Boulton from Grace Church. He would often be praying with prayer beads - the first that I had seen in the hands of an Episcopalian.

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  2. I repent of not standing in New London (pray for Fr. Emmett). And, Dan, David Boulton was my sponosoring rector. omg. I didn't know he did that. I weep. Is David still well in Islesboro?

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  3. Father Mark,
    Your wife is to be commended for this stirring montage. I have to confess that there would have been a time where I may well have stood on the "other side" of the street. A combination of being on the other side of an Air Force career and having draft aged sons have ways of tempering one's outlook. As a military retiree, I can now speak freely that the Iraq adventure was ill conceived, and a 21st century parable towards "counting the cost".

    Perhaps the greatest tragedy of the previous eight years is the fact that those on the far poles (Right & Left) have made it nearly impossible for people of good will with differing opinions to have any meaningful discussions towards ending the debacle.

    A. Terry
    Diaconal Postulant

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  4. God bless you for this witness.

    One question --why did you stop?

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  5. Richard III26/3/09 6:29 AM

    Terry,
    I'm also a military veteran of 23 years in the Army and a Viet Nam vet. My question is why this country was so eager to follow Mr. Bush in the first place without considering the costs in blood and money and why there was little moral outrage by the public after it came to light the excuses for invading a sovereign nation, that posed no direct threat to us, were found to be false.

    Richard Warren

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  6. It is interesting that the ONLY voice in the Bush administration which questioned the false Iraq narrative at all was also the ONLY person in the Bush administration with real and meaningful military experience.

    Combat tested Powell was skeptical while the cowards and chickenhawks jabbed at the dogs of war.

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  7. As the widow of a Viet Nam vet who died as a result of suicide and the proud yet pacifistic mother of a daughter who is a veteran of both Kosovo and a recently ended tour in Iraq, I feel privileged to have stood on line several times over the years with you and Kathryn and others to bear silent witness to the pain and suffering of war. The ending of the line, I pray, is just a beginning of the need to continue the watch and sometimes to be ready to break the silence.

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