Friday, April 20, 2007

Peace at the end of a dark week

In a week askew with tragedy in Virginia — and yet again in Iraq, our Friday evening peace vigil at Sunset Boulevard and Capitol Highway seemed a kilter too.

The usual steadfast stream of evening commuters motored by, of course. Because the spring sun was still bright in a clear sky, I paid closer attention to what the home-bound drivers were doing behind their wheels.

Free of slapping windshield wipers and dapples of rain, they too seemed more aware of us, the eleven peace vigilers staked out on the four corners of Hillsdale’s busiest intersection.

We got more honks than usual—easy toots for peace.

Across the street, the coltish ballerinas pranced and pirouetted behind the glass doors of the old garage turned modern dance studio.

A few high school guys, a military recruiter’s dream, hung out at the Union 76 gas station/food mart. Once, 10 years ago, a real mechanic changed oil and filters there; he didn’t sell lattés and Doritos.

We, largely a gray-haired lot, brandished our peace signs so that the loitering boys wouldn’t have to fight for oil and Union 76 in some distant, searing desert.

We got a lot of support from passers-by, but a burly, goggled biker on a growling, bronze and buff Harley flipped me off with a raised, black-leathered middle finger.

Glad he saw me, I thought.

No, the truly dangerous commuters were the multi-taskers on cell-phones who felt compelled to talk AND flash us the V—with the one remaining hand that should have been on the wheel.

The sign in front of the high school announced that the “community clean-up” scheduled for tomorrow has been canceled. No room on the sign for a reason. Could our community, like an oven, now be self-cleaning? If only.

The best news is that Jerrod, the Hillsdale Marine stationed in Iraq, is wending his way home aboard a ship cruising to Australia.

I got the word from his grandmother, a vigil regular. Safe though Jerrod is, she continues to come, hoisting the “Honk for Peace” sign I gave her back in February when 6 p.m. was dark and cold and sodden.

Her presence inspires us to keep our Friday vigil at Sunset and Capitol, to insist that all our Jerrods—and Janes—be brought home in the name of peace.

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