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Peace activists plan gamut of activities.

Byline: Jeff Wright The Register-Guard

Scott Burgwin has attended more than 170 peace vigils in the past 15 months, usually accompanied by only a handful of stalwarts who share his passionate opposition to the war in Iraq.

He'll be at another one today, in Cottage Grove, when he and others recite aloud the names of every soldier killed in the year since the United States officially went to war.

He asks himself almost everytime he goes to a vigil if his efforts are worth it, he said.

"There are days when you think, `The universe is not for us,' ' said Burgwin, 51, of Cottage Grove.

But he and other peace activists haven't given up and, in fact, say they are emboldened by a sense that more people are crossing over to their way of thinking. They will test that theory today and Saturday when activists in at least a dozen communities across Oregon march, rally and remember - on the one-year anniversary of the United States' invasion of Iraq.

Burgwin, who has attended vigils from Creswell to Oakridge, said he began noticing a change last fall in public reaction to the vigils. Among passing motorists, he said, thumbs-ups gestures and supportive horn honks have become more frequent than rude gestures.

The high point may have come three weeks ago, he said, when he attended a vigil in Drain. "Three log truck drivers all honked their horns," he said. "In Drain! In a row!"

Still, it hasn't been easy, said Burgwin, a distributor of environmental products and part-time newspaper circulation worker. Going to vigils, he said, has been a way to support like-minded activists and provide witness against the war.

"Sometimes you just feel compelled to let people know that others are still trying to speak out about this," he said. "It's just to let people know that, even in small towns, this thing is still going on and we need to keep the pressure on."

Several groups are trying new tacks in their efforts to raise the public's consciousness. In Eugene, for example, volunteers with the Justice Not War Coalition plan to fan out Saturday across the Whiteaker neighborhood, where they will go door to door in a voter registration drive.

"Instead of preaching to the choir at a rally, we want to go into the neighborhood and talk to a broad group of people," said coalition spokesman Michael Carrigan.

"We just felt it was time to do something different - to go out and talk to people on their turf."

The outreach is modeled after last year's door-to-door campaign in the Friendly neighborhood, where dozens of peace signs sprouted in people's front yards.

Saturday's focus is on Whiteaker, where activists hope to find many sympathetic but unregistered voters, but could lead to similar efforts in other neighborhoods, Carrigan said.

Other activities across the state range from a "chalk art for peace" program in Salem to a street march in Florence. Today's event in Cottage Grove, meanwhile, may last longer than most vigils: Organizers plan to recite the name, rank, age and hometown of every coalition soldier killed since the invasion of Iraq this time last year. A gong will chime after each name is read.

"We've actually practiced it, and we think we can get through about five names a minute," said Burgwin. "And the total number right now is 665."


Cottage Grove: Noon today, Opal's Park, Seventh and Main, "The War's Toll," recitation of names of coalition soldiers killed in Iraq. Stand for Peace, 767-0770.

Eugene: 1 p.m. Saturday, Cozmic Pizza, Eighth and Charnelton, "Democracy Rising - Voter Empowerment Day." Canvassing of Whiteaker neighborhood with get-out-the-vote drive, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., followed by socializing at Cozmic Pizza from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Justice Not War Coalition, 342-1953 or 343-8548.

Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Eugene Public Library, 10th and Olive, Women's Action for New Directions, informational fliers and voter registration, 344-6443. Other informational tables include Friendly Neighbors for Peace at Friendly Market and Flicks and Pics, and SGI-USA Buddhist Community at Wild Oats and Willamette PC Market.

Florence: 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Methodist Church, Second and Kingwood, tolling of bell for lives lost, single-word signs displayed in street march. Citizens Democracy Watch, 997-9065.

Other observances: Today in Bend; Saturday in Astoria, Bandon, Corvallis, Grants Pass, Portland, Medford, Roseburg, Salem

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Title Annotation:Politics; Groups statewide will mark the anniversary of the Iraq war with marches, rallies and other events
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Mar 19, 2004
Previous Article:A lonely year for families of soldiers.
Next Article:To mourn, to honor.

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