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Healdsburg
June 20, 2024

Vigil for Peace Returns to Healdsburg—Same Time, Same Bus Station

Thursday night demonstration makes a comeback in times of strife

Last Thursday afternoon, the Healdsburg Peace Project reappeared in its traditional spot on Healdsburg Avenue at the bus stop on the Plaza, across from Hotel Healdsburg.

The participants carried flags, banners and signs, all with a common message in favor of peace over conflict, a message that never seems to lose its currency.

Lillian Read, a long-time member of the loose-knit organization, sent out word to an extensive mailing list just a few days earlier, and about 15 people showed up, as they have since the 20th century.

“It started for me during the Iraq war in 2003, and I know there was some presence during the first Iraq war, so it’s been going on for a long long time,” Read said. “The time is the same as it’s always been, between 6 and 7pm on Thursdays.”

She recalled, “I don’t remember exactly when it started. Some of the original people in the project have died.”

Among the departed were Bob Boardman, who passed away in 2011, and his wife Laura Beach, who died 10 years later. Read was planning on attending a memorial for another “peace veteran,” Liz Hawthorne, the following Saturday. “So we’ve lost a lot of people, a lot of the leadership of the group,” she said.

While many in Thursday night’s vigil were of an older generation, younger faces brought with them a louder energy animated by the current conflict in Gaza.

The vigils first began with the onset of the Gulf War in 1990, remembered Beach in a story for the Healdsburg Tribune dating from September 2012.

“It was when the war drums began to beat for the invasion of Iraq in the fall of 2002 that the reincarnated Peace Project burst onto the Healdsburg scene,” she wrote at the time. “At that first vigil, some members of the original group were present—and so were dozens of new participants who were to bring fresh energy, creativity and passion to the Project.”

The vigils continued, rain or shine, well into the 2020s, but with the social isolation that the Covid pandemic brought, the weekly vigils struggled to continue, then ceased.

Now they’re back, with the specter of the war in Gaza motivating them to show up once again, wrote Read in an announcement this week. “Signs, flags, silence, chants, prayers, drums, information, whatever you bring, this call for ceasefire needs everyone,” she said.

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