WATERVILLE — A small-but-committed group of protesters gathered Sunday morning outside the Universalist Unitarian Church of Waterville to stand in opposition to war.

The anti-war vigil, which attracted about 20 people, came three weeks after a U.S. air strike killed top Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani.

President Trump said the attack that killed Soleimani was carried out because the Iranian major general in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps was “plotting imminent and sinister attacks on American diplomats and military personnel.”

War protestors Anita Robbins, center, and Patti Trask, right, join other protesters Sunday along Silver Street in Waterville. Morning Sentinel by Rich Abrahamson Buy this Photo

Patricia Trask, a Waterville native and longtime anti-war activist, had the idea to hold a vigil.

“I was a little outraged at Mr. Trump,” Trask said. “To attack a sovereign nation, to put us all at risk … and we still have no specific answers as to what those risks were with Soleimani.”

Trask said she also wanted to hold the vigil to fuel positive change.

“I’m an old activist,” she said. “I’m here to represent and hopefully make some kind of a difference for my kids and my grand-kids. I just want to see a government that works for everyone and not just the base like Donald Trump …”

Trask had a message for the next generation of young voters.

Matthew Crane of Albion holds his hand made sign Sunday while joining about 30 other war protesters along Silver Street in Waterville. Morning Sentinel by Rich Abrahamson Buy this Photo

“This is your future and I hope all the young people will come out and vote,” Trask said. “It doesn’t matter which way they vote, as long as they vote and exercise their right to do that. And hopefully at some point after the next election we can wake up and find peace finally, or some sense of peace.”

Dick Thomas, who organized the vigil, said his goal was to make people more aware of the situation in the Middle East.

“It’s really to make people a little bit more aware that this could escalate really quickly and we don’t want that,” Thomas said. “What we should all do is write to our politicians about this.”

In an email, Thomas detailed more of his concerns.

“Imagine whether we would consider it an act of war if Iran bombed and killed our military leaders, our joint chiefs of staff,” Thomas wrote. “Further, our President’s economic sanctions are starving the people of Iran. I think most Americans have learned from our wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan that unless we are being attacked, war is not the answer.

“The best defense we have against this is for the American people to show that we do not support this mistake. It is simply wrong to sacrifice the lives of thousands more of our young people, and we cannot afford the crippling economic price of another endless war in the Middle East.”

Colby freshmen Cynthia Rosas and Raizel McNally said they attended Sunday’s vigil because the upcoming presidential election will be their first time voting.

“I’m excited to put in my vote and use my voice,” McNally said. “And right now, I think what’s happening in our government is appalling and it’s important to use our voices at events like this.”

Added Rosas, “Even if it’s as small as standing on a corner with a sign, it’s important.”

Though the vigil was held outside the Unitarian Church, it was not a church-organized event. But longtime members Iver Lofving and John Rogers were out on the corner with their signs to show support for the vigil.

“We’re out here because we believe in peace and justice,” Lofving said. “I lived in Central America in the 1980s. It was a lot of war down there and it was pretty crazy, so I don’t know why anyone would really want it in my opinion.”

To Lofving, there is an important question Americans need to ask themselves.

“Peace is possible if we want it, but there’s a big ‘if’ there,” Lofving said. “Do we really want peace? As a culture, as a society, do we want peace or do we want war? We need to get people thinking about it.”

At a press conference the day after Soleimani’s death, President Trump said Soleimani’s execution was an action to stop a war, not start one.


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