Crowd gathers in La Jolla to light candles for peace

By Pat Sherman

Nearly 100 people attended a spontaneous rally in the Village Monday night, Sept. 9, to light candles and urge government officials to exercise restraint in any U.S. response to Syria’s use of chemical weapons on its citizens.

Attendees gathered at the intersection of Girard Avenue and Silverado Street, holding signs to promote peace and denouncing the “military industrial complex” — a term that gained popularity in the 1961 farewell address of President Dwight D. Eisenhower. It refers to the oft conflicting policy and monetary relationships between government officials, the armed forces and the munitions and military industry.

“After World War II, I can’t think of anything that has been accomplished by any military action the United States has taken,” said La Jollan Barbara Baxter, who helped organize the event through an e-blast sent via the liberal political advocacy group, “I don’t feel that we have used up all of our options. I feel that we have to give peace a chance, imagine a world without war.”

Co-organizer Barbara Lorenz said people are always talking about the United States’ “moral and humanitarian obligation with regard to Syria.”

“I agree perfectly,” Lorenz said. “But my moral and humanitarian obligation is to our troops — no more slaughter of our troops.”

Pacific Beach resident Nere Lartitegui, a U.S. citizen of more than a decade who was born during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) in Spain’s Basque Country, attended the rally with her daughter, Veronica Bonomie, and granddaughter, Valeria Bonomie — both of La Jolla.

“I was born in war, and I believe that war doesn’t work,” Lartitegui said. “We are three generations here. Peace is the legacy that I want to leave my family and anyone in this country that has received us so generously.”

Hillcrest resident Bob Jones added, “I think I’m like most Americans — I want to be proud of my country, and I think bombing Syria will take away that feeling for most Americans.”

Elizabeth Maier of North Park suggested that the U.S establish a “department of peace” that would supersede its defense department.

“We’d have a whole different kind of vision about society, like: Who’s hungry? Who needs food? Who needs to be educated? Who needs housing?”

“A military reaction to genocide is not going to solve anything,” added Jeanne Campbell of Ocean Beach. “We need to support diplomacy at all costs.”