A roundup of local peace activists
Veterans for Peace
Go to any peace demonstration in Indianapolis, and you are likely to see a fiery Irish-Italian communications professor lighting up the crowd with his passionate anti-war prose. Usually dressed in black jeans and a Veterans for Peace T-shirt, with his long, silver, curly hair pulled back in a ponytail, his voice barrels through the microphone.
Harold Donle, 58, says he is guided by a pledge he made to himself nearly three decades ago, when he returned from serving in Vietnam, that he would never allow another unjust and unforgivable war poison our great nation.
“You want to know what motivates me? The 58,000 wasted lives represented by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington.”
Donle remembers the moment he had to consider fighting against what he calls an immoral, illegal action fueled by national arrogance and ignorance.
“When I killed somebody just because I could, I realized there was something really wrong,” said Donle, communications director for Veterans for Peace Chapter 49. “And when my buddies and commander praised me for a job well done, I knew there was something fundamentally wrong.”
That experience led Donle to the conclusion that people have no idea what we have actually done in the war.
“People need to wake up and I guess waking them up motivates me,” he said.
He has headed up a documentary film series at the university, and posted dozens of alternative news articles in a blog called Donle’s Dispatches. He has been a part of nearly every anti-war protest in the city.
On March 19, the official fourth anniversary of the beginning of the war in Iraq, Donle plans to reserve Democracy Plaza on the IUPUI campus to read the names of every soldier who has lost his/her life in the war in Iraq.
He also needs financial and human resources for a flag project that will be installed in July on the Veterans Memorial Plaza. A 36-inch American flag will represent each soldier who has died in the war, and the flags will be placed to give people a visual of what the numbers really look like. The installation will then move around the city to various locations.
Donle, who is co-sponsoring the rally against the war on March 24 (see right), will also speak and hopes for tens of thousands of participants to join him on Monument Circle.
Who: Harold Donle, professor of communication studies at IUPUI
Event: “Honor the Dead, Heal the Wounded, End the War,” a name reading ceremony sponsored by Veterans for Peace, Inc. and Campus Life and Diversity to memorialize and honor each soldier killed in Iraq
When: Monday, March 19, beginning at 9 a.m. at Democracy Plaza on the IUPUI campus. The event will continue through most of the day until all names are read.
Contact: Harold Donle at firstname.lastname@example.org
Scott Osthus and Libby Ahearn
Partners for Peace
They might be nearly 150 miles from the capital city, with a full load of college classes and work schedules, but that is not detouring Scott Osthus and Libby Ahearn, two 22-year-old students from Valparaiso University, from uniting Hoosiers to demonstrate for peace.
Inspired by the hundreds of thousands who traveled to Washington, D.C., in late January, the two student activists want to bring the opportunity home for people to speak out against a war they believe is wrong. On March 24, Hoosiers from all over the state will join them on Monument Circle to mark the fourth anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq.
“It’s important for us as college students to make our voices heard,” said Osthus, who is a geography major. “Young people from our generation are being sent to Iraq to fight this war. Even beyond this though, we are the ones who are going to inherit the problems created by our current leaders. We want to make a world where war truly is the last resort for solving international disputes.”
The demonstration is co-sponsored by Veterans for Peace and Progressive Indiana, and will feature student speakers who have lost friends in the war as well as students who have served in the war. Last year, more than 600 people gathered on the Circle; this year, Osthus and Ahearn are hoping for many more.
Who: Scott Osthus and Libby Ahearn, student activists at Valparaiso University
Event: “Iraq War Protest — Four Years Too Long,” sponsored by Students for a New Agenda in Iraq
When: Saturday, March 24 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monument Circle. The event will feature a vigil, speakers, bands and more. Veterans for Peace Chapter 49 and Progressive Indiana are co-sponsors.
Timothy Baer and Christina Glaser
Bloomington Peace Action Coalition
Timothy Baer of Bloomington is one of the most dedicated Hoosier activists against the war. For several years, Baer has been demonstrating in the streets of Bloomington every Wednesday afternoon. He is the lead organizer for Bloomington Peace Action Coalition, a group instrumental in protesting against the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. BPAC has also been instrumental in killing local efforts to test a nuclear bomb in Indiana (Divine Strake).
When he is not protesting in his hometown of Bloomington, Baer is often chartering a bus to Chicago, Washington, D.C., or New York City, taking dozens of eager Hoosiers with him in hopes that people will unite for peace.
In late January, Baer organized two buses filled with nearly 100 people to drive all night to join what some report as the largest anti-war demonstration since the beginning of the war. He and BPAC co-organizer Christina Glaser stayed behind to join at least 1,000 other activists to lobby in the Capital Hill offices.
The two peace activists said they were relieved that both Baron Hill and Richard Lugar wanted stability and democracy for Iraq, but were puzzled as to why they were not supporting a complete withdrawal of troops or a stop on war appropriations.
“What I found disconcerting in talking with both of them is that they both said they did not feel like they could do anything to interfere with what Bush is doing because he is the commander in chief,” Glaser said. “It is part of the responsibility of Congress to put the breaks on when the president is doing things that are illegal and are going against the best interest of the people of the U.S.”
Who: Timothy Baer and Christina Glaser, organizers for Bloomington Peace Action Coalition in Bloomington
Event: “End The War” demonstration, sponsored by Bloomington Peace Action Coalition
When: Every Wednesday in 2007 until the war and occupation in Iraq is ended. The event is from 5 to 6 p.m. at Monroe County Courthouse Square.
On Friday, March 16, Lockerbie Central United Methodist Church will host a worship service to mark the start of the four-year anniversary of the Iraq War.
Following the service, participants will walk down to the Circle for a candlelight vigil.
All members of the community are invited to come together in remembrance of the lives lost and pray for peace.
The worship service will begin at 7 p.m. with the candlelight walk and vigil to begin around 8 p.m.
Lockerbie Central United Methodist Church is located in downtown Indianapolis at 237 N. East St.
For more information contact the Rev. Chad Abbott at Pastorchad76@yahoo.com.