The Public Square

Gary Storm on Ending the Occupation in Iraq


My name is Gary Storm, Urbana resident, retired faculty member from the University of Illinois at Springfield, and member of AWARE.

AWARE, the peace and justice advocacy group in Urbana-Champaign, has scheduled a Town Meeting to discuss a resolution it has submitted to the Urbana City Council to end the occupation in Iraq. The Town Meeting will be held in City Council Chambers, 400 s. Vine in Urbana, at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, February 21. The purposes of the meeting are threefold: (1) to share the text of the resolution being submitted to the Council, (2) to allow panel members to provide important background information and to discuss their reasons for supporting the resolution, and (3) to give Urbana residents an opportunity to ask questions and/or make comments. The event will be carried on Public Access Television, Channel 6.

The Town Meeting represents the culmination of a series of programs that have taken place during the fall of 2005 designed to raise public consciousness about the war and occupation and to encourage citizens to thoughtfully formulate their views on these important matters. AWARE sponsored a series of panel presentations called "Voices from Iraq", for example, at which individuals and families who have had personal experiences in Iraq during the last three years have shared their experiences and perspectives with local citizens. The Interfaith Alliance also sponsored a "Peace Vigil" in December at which 10 area religious organizations had speakers present their views on ending the occupation as soon as possible. AWARE collected 60+ signatures at the vigil endorsing the resolution being submitted to the Urbana City Council, and it added many more at its booths in Lincoln Square Mall and at the Peace Bazaar during the holiday season.

Among the questions that will be addressed by panelists at the Town Meeting are: What is the national organization "Cities for Progress" doing to help local communities end the occupation in Iraq? What are the economic and social impacts of the war and occupation on the City of Urbana? on the University of Illinois? What are important moral and religious reasons for ending the occupation? Why should the City Council take up the resolution? What are local Muslim perspectives on the war and ending the occupation?

AWARE planners have met with the Mayor and many of the City Council Members to discuss the resolution, and all of these leaders have been invited to attend the Town Meeting. Don't miss this opportunity to let your voice be heard on this issue that is so important to our city and country. Please to attend the Town Meeting on Tuesday, February 21 at 7:00 p.m. in the City Urbana Council Chambers at 400 S. Vine.