Saturday, September 17, 2011

Peace Vigil in Balboa Park on 10th Anniversary of 9/11

Veterans for Peace Solicit $35 Donations for Homeless People


Copyright © 2011 by Mark Gabrish Conlan for Zenger’s Newsmagazine • All rights reserved

Members of the San Diego Coalition for Peace and Justice and the San Diego Veterans for Peace (SDVFP) held an alternative commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C. on the corner of Park Boulevard and Presidents’ Way. The vigil featured a handful of people carrying signs with slogans like “War Is Terrorism” and “If War Is the Answer, We Are Asking the Wrong Question.”

The event also featured an “Arlington West” display of cardboard tombstones fastened to the park lawn to symbolize people from San Diego and Imperial Counties killed in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. In past displays the props had been crosses, but Gil Field of SDVFP explained that this year they decided to use tombstones so they could “humanize” the event by showing the names of the dead servicemembers. The names listed included Jesús Suárez del Solár of Escondido, whose father Fernando became a prominent anti-war activist locally after his son was killed by friendly fire in Iraq in 2003.

One of SDVFP’s priorities at this event was to promote a new program, the “Compassion Campaign,” to reach out to homeless veterans. According to Field and Dave Patterson of the Veterans for Peace, there are about 4,000 homeless people in San Diego County, of which about 40 percent are veterans, many of whom served in Afghanistan and/or Iraq.

The “Compassion Campaign” asks individuals to donate $35, which the group estimates is the cost to buy a sleeping bag, poncho and nylon stuff sack for one homeless person. As of September 1, they have already handed out 700 of the kits to homeless people. Their original intent was to serve only veterans, but Field said they soon abandoned that as impractical and now they’ll give out the kits without asking for proof that the recipients served.

To make a donation to the “Compassion Campaign,” please send a check for $35 or more, made out to SDVFP, to the group’s treasurer, Colleen Angell, at 11575 Caminito La Bar, #23, San Diego, CA   92126. For more information, please call (858) 342-1964 or visit on the Web.