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Painting for peace

Matt TerrellVail CO, Colorado
NWS Peace Protest1 SM 3-17-06
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EDWARDS – President Bush once spoke of a mushroom cloud hanging over America.He called it the “smoking gun” – final proof that we waited too long to defeat terrorism.Those words rattled Gypsum resident Larry Matthews, who, like many Americans haunted by Sept. 11, feared more terrorist attacks and supported the war in Iraq from the beginning.”I thought it was something that had to be done,” Matthews said.Now, after seeing what he calls “mismanagement” of the war and believing he was misled by the government, Matthews wants to see a timetable for phased withdrawal of our troops.

“There doesn’t seem to be an end in sight, and I don’t believe it’s winable in the normal sense of the word,” Matthews said.He was one of several people painting crosses in Edwards on Saturday afternoon to protest our occupation of Iraq. The crosses represent soldiers who have died while serving in Iraq and are being distributed throughout the valley for people to display in their front yards and windows.Eagle County for Peace and Justice, the group organizing the Crosses 4 Peace demonstration, will also be protesting at major intersections across the county Monday, the fourth anniversary of the war.Plan BThis is the first major peace demonstration seen in Eagle County in a long time. A group protested in Eagle when the war first started, but things have been pretty quiet on the activism front.

One reason for that is because at the beginning of the war, you were seen as unpatriotic if you spoke out against the president, said Susie Davis, an Edwards resident and protest organizer.”Now it’s seen as a more mainstream opinion,” Davis said. “It took lots of lives to get there, though.”None of the volunteers painting crosses on Saturday seemed afraid of expressing their opinion.Eagle resident Sandra Hoffman said there are some wars worth fighting, but this isn’t one of them.”In some ways, I can kind of see the point that since we’re there, we should make the best of it,” Hoffman said. “But I still believe we should be out of Iraq.”Mike Santambrogio, a University of Colorado student soon moving to Vail, said he’s more sad than anything these days.

“I’m sad to see what it’s become,” Santambrogio said. “I hoped it would be over by now – I had hoped it wouldn’t even start.”Matthews said that one breaking point for him was seeing Bush basically reject the bipartisan report on Iraq, which he saw as a chance to admit mistakes and change strategies for the better.”It’s not being wishy-washy – if a CEO sees that something isn’t working, he tries new things, a Plan B,” he said. “Their Plan B, though, is to stick with Plan A.”Edwards resident Beth Reilly brought her kids to help paint crosses. She wanted to show them how everyday people can make a difference in the world.”The war is a big contrast to what we teach our kids in school,” Reilly said. “We teach them that violence is not the way to solve problems. You would think by now that we’d have figured out a different way to solve our conflicts.”=========================================

Want to protest?The Eagle County for Peace and Justice Group will continue painting and distributing crosses from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. today at the underground parking Garage in Edwards Plaza near Fiestas restaurant. The crosses are modeled after those found in Arlington National Cemetery. Volunteers and extra paint rollers are welcome.Eagle County for Peace and Justice will be demonstrating at major intersections from 4 to 6 p.m. Monday, the fourth anniversary of the Iraq war.For more information call Susie Davis at 926-3788.===========================================Staff Writer Matt Terrell can be reached at 748-2955 or mterrell@vaildaily.com.


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