While tensions may have lessened slightly between the U.S. and Iran after the assassination of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, many Americans are still bracing for the possibility of conflict.
Protesters took to the streets around the nation Jan. 9 to oppose the escalation of war with the Middle Eastern country during what was coined as No War With Iran: Day of Action. At the intersection of routes 347 and 112 in Port Jefferson Station, which has been dubbed as Resistance Corner, two dozen protesters took part in a rally organized by North Country Peace Group, a local activist organization.
Myrna Gordon, a member of NCPG, said Americans need to say enough is enough when it comes to war and aim to stop being consumed by war and militarization. She suggested that people read the poem “Suicide in the Trenches” by Siegfried Sassoon reflecting the tragedies of World War I.
“This is not a glorification when we see the military and the militarization of what’s happening in our country,” Gordon said. “Listen, I support the veterans. We are very supportive of them, but we’re not supportive of war, and this is what the North Country Peace Group is about. That’s what our main goal is, to say, ‘End this absolutely foolish nonsense that we’re engaged in.’ This is a horrific thing for our future, for our young children, for everything.”
She suggested investments should be made into items that promote peace such as the Peace Pole installed in Rocketship Park in Port Jefferson village, which reads “May Peace Prevail on Earth” in 10 different languages, including the motions for sign language and braille.
“We have to get back to so many things that promote peace,” Gordon said.
Nancy Goroff, Democrat primary candidate for Congressional District 1, participated in the Jan. 9 rally
“I think it’s important, especially in today’s politics, for people to make their voices heard,” she said. “Government needs to be responsive to the will of the people, and far too often that’s just not happening. From anti-war rallies to the women’s marches, times when people stand up and speak are good for our democracy.”
She expressed her concern over the current situation with Iran.
“With Iran, the real question is whether eliminating Suleimani leaves America safer, and that’s still an open question,” Goroff said. “The stakes could not be higher, but time and again we have seen President Trump [R] making critical military and foreign policy decisions based on his own political goals, rather than what will actually help this country.”
Also among those protesting in Port Jefferson Station Jan. 9 were two members of the Long Island Chapter of Veterans for Peace, Camillo Mac Bica, of Smithtown, and Ray Zbikowski, of Huntington Station. Both veterans fought in Vietnam, and Bica is an author and philosophy teacher at the School of Visual Arts in New York City.
Veterans of Peace includes vets and nonveterans working to raise awareness about the horrors of war. Zbikowski said there is a misconception about those who fought overseas in a war.
“The myth is if you’re a veteran, you are supportive [of war],” he said.
“War has been so glorified with mythologies that we have come to know the myth without the reality,” Bica said.
“It’s important to educate the public, even if they’re passing by, make them aware of what’s going on in this country as well as overseas,” he said.
People driving by either honked their horns in support or shouted at the protesters from their open windows.
Bica said when one opposes a rally such as the Jan. 9 event, it’s because they don’t realize the potential horror of war.
“People pass by and they yell things but they’re not the ones going,” he said. “Their kids aren’t the ones that are going. If they had skin in the game, the cost-benefit proportion would be different. They might not say, ‘Let’s go to war.’”
The veterans added that while every community in the U.S. was impacted by the Vietnam War due to most people knowing someone who went off to fight, with less than 3 percent of Americans knowing anyone who’s in the military today, many have not come in contact with a recent veteran.
Bica said it creates a separation between what’s going on in the military and the average citizen’s life.
“The killing and the dying that’s going on is going on in our names, while we look the other way, and we think we’re untouched by it,” he said. “There’s blood on all of our hands.”