Cromey Online

The writings of author, therapist, and priest Robert Warren Cromey.

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Location: San Francisco, California, United States

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


I took my blonde eighteen-year old granddaughter Mary Charlotte and her dark-haired high school friend Philene to the Vigil for Peace and Justice recently. I asked them if they really wanted to go or were they just being polite. They seemed eager. It was a cold cloudy day on the corner of Golden Gate and Larkin Streets in San Francisco. The austere glass and metal Federal Building stood thirty-five stories behind us. Across the Street stood the fifty-story California State building, gray, casting dark shadows on the sidewalk where we held signs. One read No War in huge black letters. Others read, Imagine a Department of Peace, It’s Not Over ‘til the Killing Stops, Quaker Witness for Peace, Episcopal Peace Fellowship, No Tax Dollars for War, No More Blood for Oil and Bring Home Our Troops.

The three of us stood on the Larkin Street sidewalk facing the traffic coming up the one way street going north toward California Street and on to toward the Bay. Twenty cars and trucks stopped for the red light. When it changed to green the vehicles roared past and we raised our signs, shook them at the oncoming traffic. Most ignored us, some gave a thumbs up, a V sign and a couple the finger. A number honked and that reminded other to honk also. Red ones and yellow ones and black ones and the orange ones, then the little ones and the big ones and they all drove by just the same. There was a pause and then more cars and trucks slammed past getting our signs wagged in the faces behind the windshields.

The girls were nervous at first, then they began to chat with each other and when the red two-decker sightseeing buses came by we all waved our signs vigorously and sometimes got a nod from the tourists.

I pointed out to Mary Charlotte and Philene some of the other twenty people holding signs. There is Lois, short, stocky, with only one tooth and a pronounced limp wearing a bright red hat. She comes every Thursday, rain or shine. Janet is a retired attorney living in a senior residence. Steve is a 6’6” attorney who leads seminars on non-violent tactics in demonstrations. Larry is a retired union man. Rhonda is a retired parochial school teacher. Her husband Frank was a railroad engineer. Kenneth is a priest who recites his rosary silently. Barbara often bakes cookies and brings them to us on Thursday. Marilyn’s son was wounded in Iraq. Thomas and Jimmy were in the military and are members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. One had been a submarine commander. Sr. Maggie is a sister of he Community of St. Francis. I am proud to say that on any given vigil day Episcopalians are the largest group attending.

Young bottlebrush trees line Golden Gate Avenue with their red bristles often in bloom. Green plants try to give color and beauty to the ominous John Burton Federal Building. Burton would have vigorously opposed the Iraq and Afghanistan wars were he still alive.

The teen girls were exhilarated by the experience. Grandpa Robert was thrilled that they were willing to try a new adventure in the never-ending fight for peace and justice in the world. My hope is they may continue to take a personal stand as they finish High School and go off to College.

We who seek justice will have to do justice to all. -Gandhi


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