A cold rain fell yesterday on the seven souls who came to Annapolis seeking peace. But all was not lost, for they heard many honks.
"HONK IF YOU WANT PEACE" read the sign held aloft outside the Market House by Joan Nackin of Annapolis, a member of Anne Arundel SANE/FREEZE, which aims to encourage the White House to pry Iraq out of Kuwait by diplomacy, not war. Many motorists obliged by tooting their horns.
SANE/FREEZE -- which claims 600 to 700 members in the county -- plans to hold hour-long vigils twice a week at Market Space until the conflict in the Persian Gulf is resolved. Courtney Garton, an Annapolis hat salesman and member of the SANE/FREEZE steering committee, said five to 10 group members will participate in each vigil.
"It's going to be a long haul for us," said Garton, who said he supported the anti-war movement during the Vietnam War but did not demonstrate publicly then. "I'd like to see a non-violent solution to the crisis. We would like to convince President Bush that using military force in the gulf is not the answer."
"This is the first time I've taken a stand," said Ruth Pickall of Annapolis, who held up one end of a banner that read "WE SAY NO TO WAR, WE SAY YES TO DIPLOMACY." She said, "I'm a firm believer that there are no righteous wars."
Pickall said she has no family members now serving in the gulf, but "I have compassion for those who are there now."
Holding up the other end of the banner was Art Collings of Gambrills, who said he is "very suspect" of President Bush's motivations in the troop buildup. He said it appears to him that Bush "was too anxious to use military force."
Collings said he believes the conflict in the Persian Gulf is occurring because this country lacks an energy policy and has failed to develop alternatives to oil.
Garton said the group believes the United States was right in responding to Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait, but believes the United States sent too many of its own troops and should have sought greater participation by the United Nations.
Garton said he's hopeful about Bush's offer to send Secretary of State James Baker to Baghdad for peace talks, so long as Baker seriously intends to negotiate and not just give Hussein an ultimatum.
SANE/FREEZE bills itself as the county's largest peace organization.
Garton said it was formed in 1983 in response to former President Reagan's increasingly bellicose tone toward the Soviet Union. The group's first goal was to halt the production and deployment of nuclear weapons.