VISTA — Head down to the corner of South Santa Fe Avenue and Main Street in Vista around lunchtime on a Sunday and you will likely see them. For 19 months, a group of hardy protesters has carried anti-war signs and flashed peace signs, calling for an end to the United States’ overseas military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan. Drivers passing through the busy intersection voiced their appreciation with raucous blasts of their car horns at their most recent vigil March 22.
The protesters are part of a nationwide movement called ENOUGH!, founded by members of the organization “Democracy for America.” The original intent was to protest the Iraq War and the Bush administration, but Vista chapter head Evelyn Treais said the rallies are still just as necessary under the new president, Barack Obama.
“(Interest in the war) has declined because of the satisfaction that people have that the government will take care of things,” Treais said. “We’d like them to be aware that it’s not genuinely resolved.”
“With upwards of a million innocent Iraqi citizens killed, and over 4,000 of our own troops killed needlessly, I truly believe we as citizens of our country have blood on our hands here and it needs to be rectified,” Carl Nigro said, calling for politicians from both national parties to be held accountable.
While all of the members of Vista’s ENOUGH! are united against the war in Iraq, many of them go a step further and demand an end to all of the country’s military campaigns.
“There’s no reason for America to project its military power all over the world,” Eric Parish said.
“We might want to question our conscience and ask if we want to be an empire or we want to be a democracy,” Nigro added. “We’ve got over 700 military bases around the world.” He questioned whether the country could afford such an expense in a down economy.
John-Eric Nilsson from Finland lived through two wars with the Soviet Union, an experience that left him a confirmed pacifist.
“250,000 of our best men did not come home,” Nilsson said. “We have done worse to Iraq than what the Russians did to us. And it looks like there’s no end in sight.”
“I’m against war in general,” Kathleen Murphy from Oceanside said. “I grew up in England during the Second World War and I know what bombs are like … I know what it’s like to be cold and hungry and carry a gas mask. I think that war is murder. We’ve got to negotiate with people.”
Being the northernmost and westernmost ENOUGH! group in the county, the majority of protestors are drawn from Vista, Oceanside and Fallbrook. Treais invited any and all to join in the events, so long as it has something to do with war, peace and other military matters.
“Anybody can just show up with a sign,” Parish said.