Nonprofit holds vigil for Syria in Western Springs
WESTERN SPRINGS – Those attending a vigil in Western Springs Monday to support the people of Syria did not agree on aspects of the Syrian civil war, but most united on one point: the United States should not use military force and become involved in the conflict.
Backers of the national nonprofit organization MoveOn held the vigil on the Village Green to speak out against U.S. military action in response to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad suspected use of chemical weapons, which killed as many as 1,500 people.
More than 50 people, some holding candles and singing songs asking for world peace, attended the event organized by Bill Swanson.
Swanson said the goal was to encourage residents to contact their U.S. representatives and senators to let them know how they feel about possible military action. “We need to end this culture of meeting violence with violence,” Swanson said. “The media has indicated that a vast majority of the American people are opposed to military action in Syria, and the government needs to listen to its people.”
Swanson said the United States has many other problems at home, such as hunger, education reform and health care, that should be addressed before trying to fix other countries.
The crowd was also upbeat about the news that military action may not have to occur, as the Russian government was trying to negotiate a deal with the Assad government to turn over any chemical weapons it has to the United Nations, which could prevent any attack.
While most in attendance were opposed to military intervention, some felt it may be a necessary evil.
Ammar Sunbulli of Burr Ridge is a Syrian-American who recently visited the war-torn country. While he is skeptical about U.S. intervention, he said he would support it only if it helps end the war.
“If the United States attacks, it should be to help get Assad out of power,” Sunbulli said. “It is the only way the war will end. Just dropping bombs on a few buildings won’t help.”
Sunbulli said he understands why many Americans are opposed to military action, after wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and seeing what has happened in Egypt after a dictator there was overthrown. But he said it pains him to see the atrocity that has gone on in Syrian, and military action by the United States may help end the war.
“We don’t want more war, we just want to see peace for the people there,” he said.
Others in attendance criticized the government, and the Obama administration, for possibly getting involved in another war in the Middle East.
“President Obama wins a Nobel Peace Prize, then he talks about wanting to bomb Syria,” said Dr. Lanny Wilson, a gynecologist from Hinsdale. “It makes me question his leadership. He should give up the Nobel Prize for even thinking about it.”
While there were different opinions about what should be done in the conflict, Swanson said it is an emotional issue, and that Americans do care what happens.
He was also happy at the number of people who came out for the vigil.
“I honestly expected about four or five people out here, and I am very happy that we had a lot more than that,” Swanson said. “It shows that people do care, and can make a difference in the world.”
For more information on MoveOn, and other events the organization is holding, visit their MoveOn online.