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Star-Ledger 03-23-07 / Be About Peace Day

The Star-Ledger

In a year of war, one day for peace

Friday, March 23, 2007
Star-Ledger Staff

The South Mountain Peace Action has been opposing war since the early 1960s when the Vietnam War was gaining momentum.

Tomorrow, several decades later, no protests are planned against the war in Iraq, just a day of peace. "Be About Peace Day" has been proclaimed in both Maplewood and South Orange, where the anti-war group is based.

"This is a community event that has broad support," said Paul Surovell, the group's chair. "We have support from high school students, middle school students. We have all sectors of the community participating."

About 75 volunteers have been working for weeks planning a day-long string of activities that begin from 1-5 pm at Maplewood Memorial Library. A forum will be held later from 7 to 8:30 pm at the Ethical Culture Society, 516 Prospect St. Maplewood. (there is a typo in the original which I corrected here -- Paul)

"This is a pretty complex event that takes a lot of people to make it happen."

Be About Peace Day, the group's third annual outing, has garnered support from both governing bodies of Maplewood and South Orange.

In fact, the Maplewood was among the first municipalities nationwide to oppose war in Iraq in 2003 before it started. In January, the township committee called for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

"They've been on board from the very beginning," said Karen Dolan, co-director of the Cities for Peace, part of the Institute for Policy Studies based in Washington, D.C.

Dolan said about 300 cities nationwide now have passed resolutions asking for an end of the Iraq War and stopping the escalation.

"I thought it was terrific they have a peace day, moving from the symbolic resolution to more activities educating parents and children."

Surovell, a schoolteacher in New York, said Be About Peace Day is more about education than about opposition to the Iraq war.

"It is not a protest," Surovell said "Rather, it is a cultural educational event that upholds the value of peace and peaceful world for children."

South Mountain Peace Action has been getting the word out however it can, with flyers, posters and news releases.

More than 1,000 lawn signs were distributed throughout the two towns. They carried a design created by Jackson Roberts, who was 10 years old at the time. The three-year-old design has the words: "Be About Peace," surrounded by repeated words: "War."

Children can participate in arts and crafts projects with peace as its them. A door hanger, for example, will be made in the shape of a peace sign that can be traced onto a canvas. They can also make buttons with peace slogans.

People will be encouraged to participate in a letter-writing campaign to members of Congress, calling for an end to the war.

The evening program will consists of music and discussion. A 7 p.m. forum, "How a Peace Economy Could Help Maplewood and South Orange," will include Maplewood Mayor Fred Profeta, Township Committee Member Vic DeLuca, South Orange Trustee Janine Bauer and Rep. Donald Payne (D-10th).

For further information, call (973) 763-9493.

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