Community calls for ceasefire at vigil for Ukraine | News

As the bells of Asbury United Methodist Church rang at 11 a.m. on a freezing and windy Saturday morning, community members gathered at the LOVEworks letters behind Harrisonburg City Hall. Their message? Paz, shalom, pace, frieden, salaam… Peace for Ukraine, as a sign said.

Some of the pickers gathered to talk – the ones who have made these vigils part of their weekly routine. March 26 was the sixth consecutive week.

The event officially began with an “opening ceremony”, during which Carol Snell-Feikema, one of the organizers of the vigils, alongside her husband, Michael, took out a megaphone.

“All those who want peace, please come together now,” Carol said. “We meet as peace activists, part of the growing international peace movement.”

Theresa Kubasak took the megaphone, pulled out the Charter of the United Nations and began reading the preamble, which discusses the organization’s “faith in fundamental human rights… [and] in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small…and to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom. Using UN words, Kubasak drew comparisons between the group’s mission statement and what activists hope to achieve from these vigils: peace, she said.

Carol came back to the microphone with a bouquet of flowers in her hand and said they symbolized life and resurrection. She also urged the group to commemorate and think of refugees from Ukraine, as well as other countries around the world, fleeing violence and injustice.

Also, Carol talked about the sunflower and his history, because it is the national flower of Ukraine. the flower native to the Americas, she said, where indigenous people cultivated the plant before explorers brought it to the Russian Empire and modern Ukraine centuries ago. She said the sunflower points to the sun, light, hope, life and love – not far from death and destruction – and acts as “a symbol of what we must do”. Carol also linked the factory’s international trip to one of the activists’ signs, which read “One Land, One People”.

When the ceremony was over, Michael led the LOVEworks letter group to S. Liberty Street, directly across from the Daily News-Record. On the walk, Carol and Kubasak sang a version of the anti-war song “Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye” over a megaphone. Some of the other attendees added the lyrics “They pull out the guns again / But what are we gonna do when they pull out the nukes / Everything could fall apart, so we gotta stop this war, we gotta stop this war.”

When the group reached S. Liberty Street, Carol and Kubasak continued to lead songs for peace with calls to action such as “No more nuclear confrontation / We need love and cooperation… / No more war and devastation, we need real negotiation.” The women’s statements – delivered in English, Ukrainian, Russian, Spanish and Arabic – matched signs carried by other activists, which encouraged “diplomacy not war” and coexistence.

The group returned to their original post, where Kubasak conducted a “Puppet for Peace” show. She used designs of the American symbol of Uncle Sam and Russian President Vladimir Putin and said the United States must ‘allow room for compromise’ and it was ‘not too late to negotiate’ , among other comments on US foreign relations and Ukraine staying outside of North America. Treaty Organization (NATO).

Matching the theme of the puppet show, one participant said, “Let the little people talk.”

Soon after, snow began to fall from the sky, but activists lingered until all was said and done. Participants had the opportunity to step up their homemade “soapbox” and share their thoughts on the ongoing crisis.

Bruce Busching, professor emeritus in the department of sociology at JMU, said reliable sources of information are key to understanding what is happening in the world. He quoted Democracy now!a global, independent, non-profit news organization, for example.

Another attendee, named Earl, was visibly choked and his voice began to weaken as he spoke to the crowd. He shared a story of how he and his wife met a Ukrainian woman and child near Eastern Mennonite University whose mother and sisters are still in Ukraine.

“We carry her and her people in our hearts,” Earl said.

After Earl, another man, who said he worked in Ukraine earlier in his life, said he contacted people he knew in Ukraine but hadn’t heard from them recently . He shared similar feelings.

“When you know someone in a conflict, you see them differently. You feel it differently,” he said.

A man named Michael closed the event and said that an international economic order is necessary to meet the challenges of the world and help all people to have a “decent and dignified human life”.

“We need to create a global movement for peace that demands this be done,” Michael said. “It’s much better to do it in a negotiated way now than [to experience inflation] and have chaos.

As the group continues to hold weekly vigils, Kubasak stressed the need for change.

“If we want this world to be a better place, we have to come up with solutions,” Kubasak said. “We are not anti-war, we are pro-peace… It will help in the end that Ukraine does not have war on its soil.”

Contact Michael Russo at For more JMU and Harrisonburg news coverage, follow the news desk on Twitter @BreezeNewsJMU.

About Michael C. Lovelace

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