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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

Group gathers to protest war

Monday, March 17, 2003

Anti-war protesters display a variety of signs at the rally on the Vigo County Courthouse lawn Saturday.

TERRE HAUTE -- They started arriving at the Federal Building just before noon Saturday.

Quietly, building up to nearly 100 members, the group of anti-war demonstrators were ready to march together in protest of their country going to war with Iraq.

"War would bring more problems than it would do good," Diane Brentlinger, 68, of Terre Haute said. She is a member of the Terre Haute Stop War group that meets weekly at the Coffee Grounds coffee house downtown.

Most of the activists gathering at the corner of Seventh and Cherry Streets this spring-like Saturday were holding signs with different messages ranging from "What about the children?" to "No war with Iraq" with a U.S. flag-style background. Others held up signs with pictures of Iraqi families glued on them.

Karl Knopf came from Illinois to take part in the protest on the same day thousands of other protesters across the nation gathered to object to the threat of war. One of the major demonstrations took place at Washington, D.C.

Brentlinger pointed out that Knopf was the oldest man marching Saturday in Terre Haute.

"I'm opposed to this war," the 89-year-old said. "If it's purpose is to kill people, it will be successful."

He served in the military during World War II and doesn't think the world is ready for another war. Another protester, Fred Blade Sr., of Terre Haute, said the entire war situation is wrong.

"It's simple," said the 69-year-old. "We have no business with a pre-emptive strike. We're headed for a downfall if we go through with it."

As Stop War leader, Cathy McGuire, of Terre Haute, handed out signs to those needing them, she said that she was pleased with the size of the crowd. She announced the route would go down Wabash Avenue, cross Third Street and then rally at the courthouse lawn.

"This is a peaceful march. Follow the rules of Martin Luther King Jr.," stressed McGuire. "That's the way we work."

Somberly, the crowd marched the route to the courthouse, the scene accented by car horns sounded in support of the walkers.

"I think we have to do anything we can to stop this war," McGuire told the crowd.

Speakers and musicians addressed the crowd in a pleasant courthouse lawn ceremony.

Historian Ralph Leek, California, asked the country to take a look in the mirror, urging the crowd to hold their government officials accountable for the problems in the Middle East.

"Look at the evil and aggression in the world and ask yourselves, 'Have I contributed to this in any way?'," Leek said, adding, "Iraq was armed to the teeth by us to attack Iran (during the Reagan Administration.) Why? Because Iran threw out the American-backed dictator, the shah."

In the event a U.S. strike takes place this week, McGuire asked the protesters to gather on the courthouse lawn at 5 p.m. the day it happens. Also, several Terre Haute churches will be opened for anti-war demonstrators to meet if war begins, including St. Joseph's Catholic Church, First Unitarian Congregational Church and the United Methodist Church.

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