About 40 local residents gathered downtown at dusk last Thursday,
March 20, for a candlelight vigil to protest the start of the
war on Iraq. Among those who participated in the vigil were Amy
Scott and Bill Houston.
Photo by Robert Mihalek
oppose U.S.-led attack on Iraq
residents react to Iraqi war
It was a beautiful warm day Sunday, and downtown Yellow Springs hummed
with life kids hanging out in front of Toms Market and Current
Cuisine, villagers in their summer clothes chatting and licking ice cream
cones, tourists galore. On one of the first warm weekends following a
long, cold winter, folks seemed to be carefree, enjoying the warmth and
It looked like a typical early spring day, but it was not. Thousands of
miles away, the United States government was dropping bombs on Iraq, and,
when asked if the war affected their lives, about 30 local residents quickly
shifted gears from their first-day-of-spring mode and described themselves
as angry, depressed or anxious.
Im very disturbed by it, said Muriel Meray, local business
owner and artist. Its springtime and I feel theres a
cloud over the spring. Its the war.
Meray, like almost all of the people who responded to this informal survey,
opposes the American-led war. Specifically, she said, she views the war
as immoral, and feels troubled that I know people are suffering,
especially women and children.
Most people surveyed dont know anyone serving in the war, and quickly
acknowledged that the war doesnt affect their lives in obvious ways.
Many said that watching the war on TV seems a surreal experience, a fire-and-lights
reality show. But the majority described a keen distress at the governments
actions, and an uncomfortable powerlessness.
I feel a sense of melancholy, said Andy Carlson. The associate
dean of Capitol Universitys College of Arts and Sciences, Carlson
said he organized a series of discussions around the issue at school,
since its a learning opportunity for faculty as well as for
students. Although he is not a pacifist, Carlson said he doesnt
agree with the Bush administrations rationale for the action.
Normally an optimistic person, Mark Crockett, a member of the Miami Township
Board of Trustees and a local business owner, said the war has made him
feel pessimistic about the future.
I oppose the war totally, from an economic, social and moral perspective,
on all levels, he said.
Anxiety and great prayerfulness are the responses cited by
Martha Worrell, who expressed her fear that the war will destabilize
rather than stabilize the world. I have a fear of terrorist attacks.
To keep her 10-year-old son from being overwhelmed by the conflict, Worrell
said, she limits the amount of TV he can watch. She also encourages him
to use cooperative behavior.
I tell him that peace begins within, she said.
Rosemary Bailey, a speech therapist, described feeling affected emotionally
on a continual basis since the war began last week. Specifically,
she feels angry and while she stays away from TV and radio because they
inflame her anger, Bailey said she still feels disturbed by what she sees
as President Bushs manipulation of the American public, especially
his repeated linking of Saddam Hussein with the Sept. 11 tragedy. There
was never a direct connection between Saddam and Al Qaeda, she said.
I consider this war an act of terrorism, she said. I
feel a lot of anger toward Bush and anger that those who oppose the war
are considered unpatriotic. I believe Saddam is an evil man, but is inflicting
terrorism on Baghdad the right way to deal with him?
Charles Funderburk, who teaches political science at Wright State University,
worries about the Iraqi war as a shift in U.S. foreign policy.
Im concerned that the Bush administration sees the war as
a first of several steps toward remaking the Middle East in Americas
image, he said. It has a vaguely familiar and disturbing ring,
Victor Ayoub, retired professor of anthropology at Antioch College, traveled
to Iraq several times and lived in Jordan for five years during the early
1990s. His opinion of this war is shaped by those experiences, Ayoub said.
I know the anxiety people in Jordan felt over the first Gulf War,
and I feel a terrible sense of frustration on their behalf, said
Ayoub. He said he also feels betrayed by the Bush administration because
the U.S. government has lied. In a democracy, that shouldnt
Many said they were concerned for the safety of American troops.
Im not happy about it. Knowing that there are young kids put
in peril bothers me considerably, said Chuck Buster, who is the
father of two sons.
Jeff Simons, who taught Marines when he lived in Japan 12 years ago, finds
himself thinking often of his former students.
The people fighting are just kids, he said. I wish them
well and hope they come home safely.
Along with concern for the American troops, many villagers cited their
concern for the Iraqi people.
I worry about the millions of Iraqis who will be feeling pain,
said high school student Gwen Glowaski, who said she doesnt want
her government to create more pain in the world.
Some villagers find themselves drawn to their television to keep up with
war developments. Not getting enough sleep is the main effect
cited by Laura McNabb, a Toms Market employee who said her family
has been watching the tube around the clock.
You get glued, she said. The kids had the TV on all
But others, like Jerry Buck, a retired library administrator, who sees
the war as crazy, registers his protest by boycotting television.
I dont understand the fascination of watching a war on TV,
Eric Weikarts work with children has colored his response to the
war, he said. The director of Mills Lawns After School Program,
Weikart, who strongly opposes the action, wondered, How do I explain
the war to the children? He said he sees children in his program
working out their anxieties through play.
I have two 11-year-olds who go on Special Forces missions every
day, he said. Thats how kids work things out.
Contact with young people has also affected the response of Yellow Springs
High School music teacher Yvonne Wingard, who described herself as uneasy.
¹Im worried about what might happen, she said. In choir
class last Thursday, the day after the war began, she and her students
spent much of the period talking about the war, Wingard said, because
the kids are so unsettled.
High school students hanging out downtown Sunday afternoon said that the
increased noise of jets overhead has brought the war home to them.
Im sometimes scared for my life, said YSHS sophomore
Kyle Truitt. I worry about terrorism.
But the Iraq war most often has an unreal quality, said Joey Lurie, a
YSHS freshman, who described himself as extremely opposed
to the action. If I dont watch TV, then it doesnt exist,
Darcy Hennessy, another YSHS student, feels confused about how to react
to the war. I feel lucky because I know even though there are people
dying, my community will be safe, she said. But I feel I should
be doing something to oppose it.
A man who has spent his career working at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base,
and who asked not to be named, said that he has mixed feelings about the
I struggle with it. I work for the military, he said. But
I dont believe war is the right thing to do.
European-born villagers who lived through World War II find the Iraqi
war brings up powerful and disturbing memories.
It reminds me of fleeing the Germans, said Andrée Bognár,
who was 10 years old when her family, on bicycles, fled the advancing
Germans in Belgium.
It brings back memories, first of fleeing the danger, then of finding
shelter, she said. I pray for peace.
Luisa Owen, who grew up in Yugoslavia during World War II and recently
published a memoir of her childhood called Casualties of War, finds the
Iraqi war very disturbing.
Especially, she said, shes disturbed by how the government and media
present the war, talking about gains and losses, rather than
casualties, and only about our side, as if the rest of the people
It makes it all a lie, she said.
Because todays Americans have never experienced war on U.S. soil,
they seem sometimes to view it as a game on TV, and those reality
shows dont help, she said. It reduces the dignity of
the human spirit.