“Ten years is way too long,” Quess Derman said.
The Dermans are part of the Friday Peace Vigil, a group that meets from noon to 1 p.m. every Friday at the Capitol; today’s demonstration included a silent march throughout downtown at 11 a.m. to mark the 10th anniversary of the United States’ involvement in Afghanistan. The vigils began the Friday after the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001.
The Dermans have been protesting wars since the Vietnam era. One of the great costs of the war is the effect on the troops, Quess said; she feels their mission is unclear and they come home to broken families and no jobs.
The march started in front of Rep. Mike Rogers’ office, said Margaret Nielsen, one of the event organizers. The Representative’s office was chosen as a symbol for all members of Congress, both state and national; Friday Peace Vigil holds members of Congress responsible for the war, said Ann Francis, a protest coordinator.
“Instead of spending money on other programs, our money is being poured into the war machine,” Francis said. Over $11 billion has been spent on the war in Michigan alone, she said, adding that some of that money could be used to help people in Afghanistan and most of it could be used to fill holes in the state budget.
Protester Luke Roy said the war is helping the military alienate people around the world. Roy and his wife Julie have been attending the protests for 10 years. They used to pull their now 15-year-old daughter in a wagon to the protests, Julie Roy said. The Roys believe in the cause because they have family in the military.
Some participants wore white face paint to signify mourning. Many of the group members also carried signs bearing slogans such as “10 Years Is Too Long” and “Peace For Afghanistan.” The march and vigil were sponsored by the Greater Lansing Network Against War and Injustice and the Peace Education Center.
“The best thing we can do is leave,” said Paul Brun Del Re, a board member of the Peace and Education Center. Brun Del Re said he is concerned about the psychological impacts that cannot be measured beyond the deaths and injuries.
The group also shared messages for Michigan representatives.
“They need to get their parties to oppose the war,” Bill Derman said. “We can’t afford to be the world’s policemen.”
Francis posed a question for the representatives.
“What kind of legacy are you leaving?” she asked. “War is a very, very bad habit.” She urged elected officials to think about the impact, both financial and emotional, that the war is having on young people in America.
In addition to this being the 10th anniversary of the start of the war in Afghanistan, today’s vigil marked the 525th consecutive peace vigil since the group began.