Stars Shine On Candlelight Vigil

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The clouds parted and the stars came out Sunday night just in time to shine down on a small group of Rim country residents holding a candlelight vigil at Green Valley Park to protest going to war against Iraq.

The event was held in conjunction with 7,000 vigils taking place Sunday in 168 countries around the world. Payson resident David Crimmins of Concerned Citizens of Payson organized the local vigil, which was held at the veterans war memorial.

"President Bush is actually uniting people; unfortunately its into two different groups." Crimmins said. "But he's basically created this global (peace) movement, so there is some positive in it all."

The 20 people in attendance at the vigil stood silently with candles aglow, prayed, sang songs and expressed their concerns in hushed tones.

"I would like to see it solved without military action -- without war. Winning without war," Crimmins said. "That's basically the theme of all the vigils."

Several in attendance expressed the idea that most wars are counterproductive.

"The key is to really visualize peace. That's why everybody is here," said Lew Levenson.

"War has never solved a problem in history. They're very successful at leading to the next war," Levenson added.

Another common theme was an appreciation of the freedoms inherent in a democratic society.

"Everybody has an opinion," Larry Brophy said. "That's what's great about America.

"It's really good that we have a chance to express it. A lot of parts of the world you can't do that, so I'm real grateful."

Levenson emphasized the peaceful nature of the vigil.

"Some people are saying this is some type of protest," he said. "It's really more of a ... chance for people who share the same thoughts to come together."

Crimmins agreed.

"It's just a gathering for us to show there are other people in Payson (who feel the same way)."

He blamed the small turnout on the weather and a late start by Win Without War, the national organization behind the event. Members of Win Without War include the National Council of Churches, National Organization of Women, Veterans for Common Sense, and Greenpeace.

"People just began planning this on Wednesday or Thursday," Crimmins said. "The fact that it went around the world in that short a time is pretty impressive."

The memorial was chosen as the site of the vigil for a reason.

"This is a very auspicious site for it since all the people we commemorate (here) died in a war," Levenson said.

"It's my belief that some of them died in wars that shouldn't have been."

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