Candlelight vigils will take place nationally tonight to honor the 1,000 US dead in Iraq. The events are being organized by In Montclair, the vigil will take place at the corner of Church St. and Bloomfield Ave., where Montclair peace activists hold their regular weekly rallies, at 8 pm.

14 replies on “Candlelight Vigil Planned”

  1. I read the guidelines for the vigils on the site. When I read this:
    “Together, we’ll acknowledge the sacrifice made by the 1,000 brave American men and women who have given their lives in Iraq…This is not a rally. Although we may be moved emotionally by our shared reflection and acknowledgement, this is not the place for speeches or announcements.”
    I actually got my hopes up that they would not use the corpses of the fallen as political props.
    But then I saw their suggestions for signs to be displayed by the vigil ‘leaders’.

  2. Tom and ROC,
    Of course you are completely free to hold your own vigil in any way you like. Let us know what you want to do and we can choose which we prefer.

  3. planet43 – agreed. I’m just using the word “vigil” in a way that it’s traditionally used. partisan propaganda doesn’t usually come into play.

  4. I think you are wrong on the uses of vigils. Through 2003 I attended a weekly vigil for peace which was definately partisan. We were often given the one fingered salute by passing cars while we held signs that said “Pray for Peace”.
    Propaganda or opinion?
    You are all welcome to come to my church on the evening of Sept. 11 for eucharist and prayer service. I usually wear my “War is not the Answer” button while others certainly will wear ribbons for service people. All are welcome but be warned about our partisan nature in praying for peace.

  5. Planet, people should say anything they want, wear shirts in church in anyway they want, but to bill a partisan event as a ‘vigil’ is misleading and disrespectful of those who died. does not know their politics nor that of their families.
    We should honor their service to their country even if we might disagree with the war. Because THEY gave their lives for what THEY *may* have thought would protect us. Even if you thought it was in vain, THEY may not have. I cannot speak for them and neither can you or
    The only thing properly expressed at a public vigil for fallen soldiers should be:
    “Rest in peace”
    “We are grateful for the last full measure of your sacrifice”
    Those signs make them into political footballs and that is despicable.

  6. Google “vigils” and see how many advocate a particular cause. This is a vigil by peace activists. Signs opposing the war are not out of place there.

  7. ROC– your “signs” betray a bias of which you may be unaware. That is, the acceptance of death in the service of policy. Without clearly opposing the war, the peace activists would impliedly accept that the killings were justified.
    The death of our soldiers, the death of 12,000 Iraqi civilians (I don’t know their politics either), are facts of the war. They cannot be taken off the table in discussing the war. To do so would cause us to leave behind our humanity–the human feelings of horror at killing.
    I for one am glad of the antiwar signs since we know clearly where these “vigilants” stand. I am then free to decide whether to stand with them or stay away or hold my own vigil.
    There is nothing “despicable” in letting me know where you stand. The soldiers are not footballs but people. MoveOn is not suggesting otherwise in their antiwar stance.

  8. “They cannot be taken off the table in discussing the war.”
    Absolutely correct. But call it what it is then — a political rally.
    To call it a vigil is to imply it is to pay respect to fallen soldiers. When you then say (with the signs) ‘you died in vain’ you are being disrespectful.
    As to looking up ‘vigils’ in Google. I would suggest that Google is not necessarily the best source for moral guidance.

  9. Planet,
    I thought of an example which might clarify.
    Consider Rachel Corrie the young American Woman killed in Israel while trying to stop an Israeli Bulldozer.
    If I organized a vigil for Rachel Corrie and handed out signs that said “Don’t let your daughters be dupped by terrorists” you would not think it disrespectful to her memory?
    *She* thought she was making the world a better place. I think she was missguided. It is my right to say so. But to suggest that I am honoring her memory at the same time is wrong.

  10. planet43, I don’t disagree with your right to opinion on what a vigil can or cannot be, but I think that some people, left or right of center, don’t believe that bringing political statements into a candlelight vigil for fallen soldiers is the way things should or could be.
    I, personally, tend to lean more towards a definition more than anything (try for vigil) and I believe you can go in whatever direction you want. The changing of how the term is defined in some tool like Google can be self-fulfilling, by the way. Just as you believe you are doing fallen soldiers and civilians justice with a silent semi-protest against policies of a government, I believe you are doing their memories no good at all. Those soldiers that you are memorializing made a choice one way or another to serve their country – whether or not they wanted to go to this war or not – and that has to be respected. They’re doing their job – that they chose for themselves, and it is horrible that more than 1,000 Americans have died doing their jobs – especially if they didn’t want to be in Iraq or had been there for such a long time. So while using the soldiers as an example for your cause is definitely a solid move, memorializing should be a separate “event.” Just my two cents, disagree with them or not – that’s fine – doesn’t change my opinion of anyone.

  11. It is useful to hear negative comments on such vigils because it causes us to all to re-examine our responses to war and death, opposition and support.
    Let me also say that I do not represent MoveOn nor am I a member of MoveOn. My understanding is that MoveOn opposes the Iraq war but supports military action in Afghanistan. My personal views are other than that.
    These vigils are a response to the soldiers deaths. The anti war movement has struggled with ways to express sympathy for the soldiers while rejecting the war. The message we are trying to communicate is that we don’t want any more deaths. I find it very difiicult to express sympathy and oppposition in the way ROC has suggested because it implies acceptance of the death as necessary. It is, I admit, an extremely difficult and careful line to walk because we must not communicate that the deaths were meaningless.
    The vigils I attended were very respectful and mostly silent. They are called vigils precisly to distinguish them from rallies. A rally has speeches, possibly raucus ones, which was exactly what we hoped to avoid in the vigils.
    Let me close with some words from Mohandas Ghandi: “I observe in the limited field in which I find myself, that unless I can reach the hearts of men and women, I am able to do nothing. I observe further that so long as the spirit of hate persists in some shape or another, it is impossible to establish peace or to gain our freedom by peaceful effort…We must either let the law of love rule us through and through or not at all…War will only be stopped when the conscience of mankind is elevated to recognize the undisputed supremacy of the Law of Love in all the walks of life. Some say this will never come to pass. I shall retain the faith till the end of my earthly existence that it shall come to pass.”

  12. Imagine going to a memorial service of a vicim of a heart attack and holding signs like “Heart Attack: Are you next?”
    Does it ‘educate’ ? Yes.
    Does it allow you to express ‘rejection of heart disease’ ? Yes.
    Is it disrespectful? Yes, in the extreme.
    “I find it very difiicult to express sympathy and oppposition in the way ROC has suggested because it implies acceptance of the death as necessary.”
    I would suggest that your desire to ‘link” those two expressions (sympathy and rejection of necessity of death) is more about your politics and LESS about mourning dead soldiers. So, why not separate the two? Have a *repectful* vigil and keep your mouth SHUT and then have a separate rally and protest all you want?
    If the peacenik types what to be take seriously by the general population, they’d better learn better balance.
    Personally I think this lack of balance and respect reveals the true nature of a group like

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