Anti-war groups creates display

Melissa Tisoncik, a graduate student, looks at the boot display on Thursday morning. Tisoncik said that the display is a “first step to make people aware.” Erica Magda

By Rachel Rubin

In the spirit of honoring U.S. Veterans so soon after this past Veterans Day, several anti-war organizations from around the Champaign area sponsored “Winter Soldier,” an all-day event Thursday meant to oppose the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The events began at noon when close to 50 anti-war activists and onlookers joined a rally on the north end of the Quad.

Students spoke about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and expressed hopes about what the election of Barack Obama could mean for troops.


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Soldiers remembered on Quad

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“We’re saying its great you want to pull us out of Iraq, but let’s reconsider Afghanistan,” organizer Jill Doub said. “We’re excited he was elected and want to support him, but we can’t let him off the hook.”

After the rally ended, about 20 students continued to circle the Quad, chanting and banging drums. Soldiers’ boots and shoes of Iraqi civilians were arranged in front of the English Building.

At 6 p.m., about 100 students and members of the community gathered in Mumford Hall to hear members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War’s central Illinois chapter draw parallels between Vietnam and the current war in Iraq.

“My dad is a Vietnam veteran, and he doesn’t like to tell his stories. I come to hear other peoples stories to try to know what he went through,” said Caroline Thrun, senior in LAS.

The panel of Vietnam veterans was followed by a testimonial panel of eight Iraq war veterans and two Iraqi civilians. For the 150 some people gathered, the veterans shared their experiences while the civilians offered a different perspective.

Champaign local Jim Berger came to the event with his Obama T-shirt, pin and “I voted” sticker, with his wife Joy Berger.

“I just wanted to hear what the Veterans against the war had to say,” Berger said.

“It’s hard to get your mind wrapped around people this young going through so much,” Joy added. “We have a son this age.”