Vicki Ryder, nearly 80 years old, stood on the street curb at the Peace and Justice Plaza on Franklin Street Sunday, waving a sign calling for peace in Ukraine.
Dozens of other people with signs surrounded her in the plaza. Ryder, whose grandparents are Ukrainian, said she has seen war and Ukraine's participation in war for most of her life.
“We know that it has never, ever solved a single problem — it only makes it worse,” Ryder said. "So we're here to say that we would like to see sanity prevail, that Russian troops should withdraw and that they and the Ukrainians find a way to live as neighbors.”
Ryder was one of the organizers of a vigil for peace that took place Sunday afternoon.
Members of more than 10 Triangle-area organizations, including the local Veterans for Peace chapter, Voices for Justice in Palestine and the Triangle Branch of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, gathered to offer support and solidarity for Ukraine.
They lined Franklin Street from its Henderson Street intersection, all the way down to Columbia Street. Attendees held handmade signs calling for peace. Cars driving by honked in response to the several signs reading “Honk for Peace.”
Their vigil for peace was prompted by calls for a global day of action on March 6 to stop the war in Ukraine, according to Lucy Lewis, one of the event organizers.
Vicki Ryder’s grandparents are from Ukraine, she said.
Her heart is breaking for the suffering the people there are facing. But she said it’s also important to think about the more limited media coverage and widespread solidarity around other similar events in recent history. She specifically noted Afghanistan, Yemen, Iraq, Syria.
“I think we need to ask ourselves, what is it that's different about this time?” she said. “And I think we all know the answer. And it has to do partly with the color of the skin of the people who are suffering. The very same day that Russia invaded Ukraine, the U.S. bombed Somalia. Crickets.”
Douglas Ryder, another one of the vigil organizers and a leader in the local Veterans for Peace Chapter, is a Vietnam veteran.
He said he's seen enough war.
“We need to look for citizens to overcome complacency and get involved and demand from our government," Ryder said.
Paris Miller-Foushee, a member of the Chapel Hill Town Council who participated in the vigil, said the vigil represents the kind of solidarity and coming together that we need as a global community.
“Being on Franklin Street, a very prominent place in space within the town of Chapel Hill, is a reminder to those who are going about their regular day on a beautiful Sunday that some people aren't just seeing blue skies like we are,” Miller-Foushee said. "They’re facing bombs.”
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