Speaking freely on prospects of war

Group holds meeting to air views of peace, justice

Columbia

March 03, 2003|By Liz F. Kay | Liz F. Kay,SUN STAFF

Scott Hagaman's voice shook yesterday as he stood at the microphone with his 11-year-old son Sean.

The 46-year-old Columbia resident, wearing an American flag polo shirt, said he would not be able to explain it to his son's future sons if the United States waged war with Iraq.

"If this war goes forward, we haven't done enough," Hagaman said.

About 200 people gathered in Owen Brown Interfaith Center at 2:30 p.m. for a meeting, organized by the Howard County Coalition against War to allow Howard County residents to air their feelings about possible U.S. military action in Iraq.

For more than an hour and a half, the audience listened to elected representatives who had been invited to speak, including Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Del. Elizabeth Bobo and East Columbia County Councilman David A. Rakes.

Cummings commended those attending for participating in the democratic process and enumerated his reasons for opposing potential war, listing the economic costs and social costs to the United States.

He also said he was tired of people accusing those who spoke out against the war as unpatriotic.

When residents asked him what they could do to stop a war, he urged them to "continue to raise [your] voices."

Bobo began by reading a letter written by James Rouse, urging then-President Richard Nixon to end the war in Vietnam.

"The villages in Iraq are just as precious to them as are our villages here," Bobo said.

She also announced that fellow Maryland Del. Shirley Nathan Pulliam had sponsored an anti-war resolution that she and four other delegates were supporting.

The Howard County Coalition Against War formed last month through meetings with several social action groups, including the Howard County Friends of Latin America, the Howard County Green Party and the Patapsco Friends Meeting.

Resolution

Noting the cost to Howard County taxpayers and the potential loss of first responders as National Guard troops are called up, the group lobbied the County Council to pass a resolution against possible military action in Iraq.

Cities such as Baltimore, Washington and Los Angeles have passed similar resolutions.

Members of the coalition plan to continue to lobby members of the Howard County Council to pass a similar resolution.

They also plan to approach County Executive James N. Robey and members of the Columbia Association Council to seek support for their anti-war effort, said Leslie Salgado, a coalition member.

People at the meeting were asked to attend today's County Council meeting wearing armbands and stickers for peace.

Rakes told those attending the meeting that he feels the war is unjust.

"I'm committed to stopping the war," Rakes said. "The resolution is just a vehicle in making that known to people."

`More leadership'

"I want more leadership from all of us," said Bob Rhudy, 58, an attorney from Highland. "Dave [Rakes] has tried to lead this. We need to raise it, talk about it. This affects everything we do."

John Romoser of Beltsville spoke in favor of military action. He said that his younger brother, 23-year-old Matthew, was called up from the Marine Corps to serve.

Still, "At times, war is necessary," he said. "In this case, you can't avoid it."

Americans enjoy many rights, and "the [American] Revolution had to be fought to give us those rights," he said.

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