The way of the vigil
Most of the time, several folks a minute drive or walk by, flashing the peace symbol, honking horns, or smiling broadly as they wave. Often people who walk by, pick up materials as they rush off. Several folks stop & talk, mostly to exchange frustrations & strategies about stopping the present regime in the u.s. and the occupation of Iraq. Very infrequently – maybe once an evening – someone drives by with their middle finger extended. Maybe once every 3 or 4 vigils, someone approaches with violence on their mind, yelling and screaming & trying to intimidate us.
Sometimes it is rainy or windy – or both. Most of the time we have sunshine and a cool breeze.
Tonite, we stand in front of the army recruiting station downtown Oakland. There are 3 of us – 2 holding the banner, one handing out counter-recruitment information. Jackie has taught us a great line as we approach pedestrians: for the older ones “Do you know someone who is in danger of being recruited?”; for the younger ones “Are you in danger of being recruited by the army?”
A young man leaves the recruiting station & we call out to him “Son, are you in danger of being recruited?” He assures us he’s actually 18, not 14, and not being recruited: he is only thinking of signing up. We talk to him about the occupation of Iraq. We talk to him about alternatives he has to joining. But when we talk to him about the number of U.S. soldiers who have died – 1843 – he moves closer to us, eyes wide, shock on his face. The recruiter told him only 10 people died. We say, do you mean today? He thinks only 10 U.S. soldiers have died in Iraq. Period.
He tells us he’s made up his mind. He is NOT joining, never coming back here. Ever.
Tonite made ALL the vigils worth every single moment. In pink peace, sam