Friday afternoon, anti-war chants and bodies filled the Lory Student Center Plaza. The bodies lay in a large peace sign as others outlined each body creating a killing field of rainbow-colored victims.
As students, professors and children lay on the cool cement a voice rose above the hum of the crowd.
“Let’s have silence and think about what’s about to happen here in a couple of weeks.”
The voice reminding the crowd they were there to protest the proposed war in Iraq belonged to Joe Ramagli.
Ramagli, a senior philosophy major and member of the campus group Action Awareness, helped organize the walk out and “die in” which drew over 300 participants. The protest began at 12:30 p.m., requesting students leave their classrooms at that time and took place until 1:15 p.m.
In a “die in” participants lay on the ground while others outline their bodies with chalk as if they are victims in a police crime scene.
“These chalk outlines represent all the people who are going to die,” said Pancho McFarland, professor in the Center for Applied Studies in American Ethnicity.
McFarland brought his family, including his two sons, 2 and 4 years old, to protest the possible war in Iraq. He firmly believes not only would war be immoral but against children’s natural beliefs.
“It’s clear that this war is immoral. People are going to die, we have to start talking about that,” McFarland said. “If children could choose I’m sure they wouldn’t choose war. I’m sure they’d choose peace. Mothers are going to die, children are going to die.”
Not everyone on the Plaza agreed with McFarland. One of those who did not was junior chemistry major Jody MacKenna, whose sister and father are both serving in the military in the Middle East.
“Our troops are out there dying for us,” MacKenna said. “Move out if you (those against the war) don’t like it here, leave.”
Emily Wilma, a junior human development and family studies major, agreed.
“Does anyone here remember Sept. 11?” Wilma asks. “I think not. It’s sad a year later we forget what (the terrorists) did to us.”
Those supporting the pro-peace and anti-war position, including Michaela Welch, senior sociology and religious studies major, enjoyed seeing all sides of the complex issue represented at the rally.
“I’m not surprised of this turnout, it’s a very important issue no matter what side you’re on. I think people are out here to learn,” Welch said.
Before the protest groups across campus chalked the plaza with statements such as “Support our nation” and “Support our troops,” but these chalkings did not upset organizers of the protest.
“I think it’s great that they feel the right to express themselves,” Ramagli said. “But I think the stance for peace is a much more lasting stance.”
He also added his views on how Americans could support the nation and military without supporting a war in Iraq.
“Indeed we should support our military by not sending them to die. The best way to support our nation is to stand for peace,” Ramagli said. “The more people we kill the more terrorists we will create and the more days like Sept. 11 we will have to endure.”
For others the protest not only provided a chance to speak out against a war but also a chance to exercise constitutional rights.
“(I came to the protest) to know we still have the right to peaceably assemble and to still exercise that right,” Arthur Houston, junior economics major, said.
Kyle Yeates, a freshman natural science major, agreed.
“It’s one of the few opportunities we have to come together and have a voice,” he said. “It’s not going to get spoken if we don’t come together.”