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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Students honor fallen soldiers at peace vigil

Published: March 20, 2009
Section: Front Page

<i>PHOTO BY Jodi Elkin/The Hoot</i>

PHOTO BY Jodi Elkin/The Hoot

Students gathered outside of Pearlman Lounge to remember and honor those who have died in the Iraq War on Thursday in order to mark the 6th anniversary of the war.

Before the vigil, which was hosted by Democracy For America, group members lined campus walkways with approximately 400 American flags, each flag representing the deaths of ten American soldiers.

During the vigil, attendees stood in a circle to sing songs, gave personal statements and read poems. DFA member Lev Hirschhorn ’11 commented on the atmosphere of the peace vigil and how it contrasted with the previous year’s gathering. “Last year we were angry, we walked through campus…we expressed our anger. Here now one year later, [this is] a very peaceful event.”

For the previous anniversary, over 100 students came together to protest the war in Iraq and, during the event, the names of the soldiers who died were read aloud.

Paraska Tolan ’11, who primarily organized this year’s event, said “[last year was] more political, more about sending a message to the Bush administration…with a new administration who seems to want to end the war, the vigil is less about ending the war and more about commemorating those who have died… [but] it’s also a reminder that there’s still war out there in the Middle East.”

Muslim Chaplain Imam Tlal Eid began the event by explaining the importance of why the chaplaincy has a peace vigil every Friday. He said, “you are the future…we want you to carry the voice of peace with you.” To the small group of attendees, he said, “one word from you can teach generations.”

Throughout the vigil, both the chaplain and Tolan emphasized the need to keep in mind that other areas in the Middle East are war-torn. “We need to bring the issue of peace to troubling areas outside of the U.S.,” said Eid.

While members of the Brandeis community walked by the gathering, Amanda Hoffman ’11, with guitar in hand, led the group in singing the Beatle’s “Let It Be.” Afterwards, Hoffman described the mood that the song encouraged, “‘Let it Be’ said it all, peace and harmony…in singing it as a group, we created this presence on campus, it united everyone.”

In contrast, later Hoffman and Alex Melman ’11 performed a duet, Bob Dylan’s “Master of War.” Melman said, “[The song] gets everything out there, the despicability of the war machine…The heartfelt poems are important, but it’s important to remember that there are people at fault in this war game.”

Near the end of the vigil, Rivka Maizlish ’10 posed the question: How can we as a society act on our obligation to make peace without repeating the mistakes of the past administration?

After citing the works of a Harvard professor and political scientist Samuel Huntington, Maizlish stressed the point, “We must use our power for good, but with humility.”