Event to highlight peace through stories, songs, art

Group wants to show people its view of war

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— A group of Routt County residents wants the world to know they will not be jumping on the Iraq-or-Bust wagon to war.

But they also won't be marching or shouting of chaining themselves to the courthouse steps.

"I don't think protesting is a way of putting good energy into the world," organizer and storyteller Lila Henry said.

Instead, she wants people to gather at noon today at West Lincoln Park across from Bud Werner Memorial Library to read a poem, tell a story or sing a song about peace.

She is calling it the "Artists and Others Strike/Celebration for Peace."

"It's the stories that touch people's hearts," Henry said. "I want people to bring art, poems and dancing to talk about peace. Hopefully, that will put more out of it into the world."

To fight against war, she said, people need to hear the stories of people who have been to war, "been damaged and maimed in their souls, their bodies, their minds and hearts, to show people in a personal way what war is all about," Henry said.

Henry plans to read a poem by William Stafford, show photographs from the book "Family of Man" and share a personal story about survival.

Henry is an incest survivor, she said.

"I felt like I grew up in a war zone, but I never felt that I could say something like that to a veteran," Henry said.

But when she shared her story with a storyteller friend who spent two tours in Vietnam, she was surprised by his reaction.

He suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder because of his time in Vietnam, she said, and Henry also has PTSD because of her time in her personal battle.

"I told him I was a survivor," she said. "Now, you have to picture this guy. He's 5-foot-4, a thick and solid man, a former police officer and a triple black belt.

"After I told my story, his face caved in and he turned gray. 'Same jungle, different jump' -- that's what he said."

A key to bringing about peace is "to work your own stuff internally," she said.

Henry said she does not know what to expect from today's meeting in the park.

All she knows is this is what she can do to voice her opposition to war with Iraq.

"I've been trying to figure out what to do in the face of this juggernaut race to war and it wasn't protesting," she said. "I've done that. But since then, something has shifted for me. I'm not a Christian, but I finally understand what they mean when they say, 'Love your enemies.'

"War makes war makes more war, and I want to put peace into the world."

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