Global Candlelight Vigil for Peace - Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania - March 16, 2003
"Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me."



"Let There Be Peace on Earth, And Let It Begin With Me…."

By John McLaughlin

Nine o’clock Sunday night (EST), March 16, 2003, and we just got home from the candle-lit vigil at the courthouse in Stroudsburg, PA.

There were people already there when we arrived about 6:30, the ornamental basin in front of the courthouse slowly filling up with people holding candles and singing, "This Little Light of Mine…." By about seven o’clock there were approximately two hundred people in rows, banked around the open area at the bottom, where there was a microphone set up for singing and testifying.

About seven o’clock the formal proceedings got under way, with a silent pause for reflection and prayer. Then the testimony from various people – children, ministers, the Youth Group from Christ Episcopal Church, around the corner – older people, people with family members now in harm’s way – old peaceniks, young people who’d never been on a demonstration of any kind before – began. It went on for an hour, with songs in between the testifying, and then eventually the proceedings closed down with people linking arms and singing, "All We Are Saying…Is Give Peace a Chance," and continuing without a break into the anthem, "Let There Be Peace on Earth, and Let it Begin with Me."

The crowd dispersed to make their separate ways home, some stopping to exchange phone numbers and email addresses, the music drifting back from the cars being set in motion to travel to wherever they came from in Monroe County.

I’m sorry I wasn’t in reporter mode with a little notebook to record the speakers and singers. My apologies to all the people who turned out to make their gentle positions known. For a list, I imagine you could go to tomorrow’s Pocono Record, since they had an official photographer moving discreetly around the periphery of the crowd. For the rest, I’d rather not offend someone by leaving him or her or them off the long, long list of peace-seekers at the courthouse tonight. All I can say is that, yes, I did testify. I’m by nature vehement, and eventually if you don’t control that, it can spill over into violence, which is of course totally counter-productive for the peace you are trying to achieve. So I said my little piece – basically what I just wrote here- and sat back to let the music and testifying wash over me. It seemed to have its intended – and deeply desired - effect, on this observer, at any rate. As we walked back to the car, I was humming, "Let There Be Peace on Earth And Let It Begin With Me," and it’s still ringing in my head. My prayer for tonight is that it can be our motto in the difficult days ahead. "Let There Be Peace on Earth, And Let it Begin With Me…."

(The photographs are by Jamie, as always.)


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Thanks to Janet Lawson and Sylvia Brandon Perez for acting as co-ordinators in Stroudsburg