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Honk for peace

Sandy's peace vigil at 362nd and Highway 26 marks fifth anniversary
by: LiSA K. ANDERSON Susan Gates and Will Pool hold signs to gain the attention, and perhaps a few honked horns, of drivers who pass by their weekly post at 362nd Drive and Highway 26.

During the past five years, they've gathered in rain, shine and even snow. They've held a 24-hour demonstration once, they've been mooned twice, and they've been honked at by drivers -- in support and opposition -- too many times to count.

In 2007, a group of local activists began a peace vigil at the intersection of 362nd Avenue and Highway 26. Friday marked the fifth anniversary of the vigil, and core participants say they'll continue the weekly tradition, at least until the war in Afghanistan ends.

They each have their own reasons for participating, but promoting peace was the impetus and remains the common denominator.

'I'm trying to remind people there's still a war going on, and getting them to think about it a few minutes of the day,' says Walt Trandum, a longtime activist and political organizer from Sandy.

Participants at Friday's fifth anniversary vigil, all from Sandy and nearby areas, were bundled up in wind gear and reflective neon vests. They carried the American flag and peace flags, along with homemade signs.

The activists are predominantly middle-aged or older, but they say more teens, 20-somethings and 30-somethings came out with them during the start of the war.

At its peak, the vigil saw upwards of 30 participants each week, but now numbers hover around eight or 10. Even with smaller numbers, group members say they're not deterred.

One of the favorite quotes participants refer to for the weekly vigil comes from Margaret Mead: 'Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.'

'Some people would say, 'Go back to Portland,' but we live here,' says Susan Gates, an activist and chairwoman of the Oregon Trail Democrats. 'Some people would say, 'Get a job,' but many of us are retired.'

These types of comments have lessened with time, Gates says, and the community response has been overwhelmingly positive.

As the sun faded Friday, the peace activists lowered their flags and signs. The last one to come down was bright yellow with black writing -- one of the original signs Gates often grabs.

'Honk 4 Peace,' it reads.