By Ann Clune
On Monday, April 22 we marked the twenty-year anniversary of our weekly vigil for peace. Members of Broome County Peace Action, Broome County Veterans for Peace, and friends gathered in front of the Federal building on Henry Street in Binghamton with a variety of posters and banners addressing current issues and the need to work for justice and peace.
We believe true peace is not merely the absence of war, so our signs reflect many issues encompassing militarism, racism, environmental destruction, and oppression.
It all began in April of 1999, when, in solidarity with an international day of protests against the US/United Nations bombing of Yugoslavia, a coalition of peace and justice organizations held a demonstration at the Federal Building in downtown Binghamton. That gathering led to holding weekly vigils in solidarity with international “Bridges of Light” when people in Kosovo stood with candles and lanterns on bridges to prevent the bombing of their vital infrastructure
When that campaign ended, we decided to continue to hold weekly peace vigils, moving the vigil back to the Federal Building on Henry Street for the symbolism of addressing national policies, and changed to Monday afternoons around rush hour for the sake of visibility and public attention.
This weekly peace vigil has continued for 20 years, meeting for about an hour beginning at 4:30 PM (4:00 from late fall till the return of daylight-saving time) every Monday, with a few temporary changes of site, and in recent years some limited breaks due to winter weather.
Besides promoting public awareness of important human issues, we find that standing together gives an enjoyable opportunity to chat with agreeable friends, and gives us a sense of support and a sense of hope, as so many passers-by honk, wave, and thank us. There are comparatively few negative reactions. Please join us any week you can for any part of the hour.