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Commitment: White House Peace Vigil, 28 years and Continuing

If I mention Lafayette Park in Washington, DC, what do you think of? You might think of the pretty statues and flowers planted there. You might think of the homeless people who sleep there overnight and occasionally freeze to death. You might know that it stands across the street from the White House, a building kept guarded and secure behind visible and invisible fences.

If you’ve stepped foot in Lafayette Park any day in the past 28 years, you will have seen something else, sitting directly across from the White House: a tent surrounded by some yellow plywood signs. Have you read the signs? “Don’t Be a Lemming.” “Stay the Course, This Will Happen to You.” A woman named Concepcion Piccioto has been there every day for the past 28 years. It’s her home, a home she shared with William Thomas for more than 27 years until his lungs finally gave out this January. Concepcion Piccioto’s entire life has been given over to one cause and one activity: a constant peace and anti-nuclear vigil in front of the White House.

Some people have said that the definition of insanity is performing the same act, over and over again, even though one has not in the past obtained desired results. Other people have said that this is the definition of perseverance. Is it crazy or simply persistent to hold vigil outside the White House for 28 years, asking for peace?

5 comments to Commitment: White House Peace Vigil, 28 years and Continuing

  • I don’t think it’s crazy, but I do think that it’s deluded in a way that a lot of long time peace protesters are deluded. They come up with philosophical ideas about what will bring about peace, or where peace must come from, and tend often not to pay attention to what actually works. Peace activists get very habitual. I’d think that this vigil might have noticed that its efforts aren’t making a big impact. It seems like a more personal agenda than one that’s truly for the world. Then again, no single activist effort achieves success on its own, and the rest of the nation is quite apathetic when it comes to peace. They’d rather watch G.I. Joe movies and let the wars go on and on than lift a finger for peace. So, in the end, I say, good for this activist for keeping it going. The effort is praiseworthy, even if the strategy isn’t the most effective.

  • ramone

    right across the street from the white hiouse? 28 years? a 24/7 vigil for peace? and i read about it for the first time today at “irregular times- news unfit to print”. how apropos.
    i know peace is no big deal to the main stream media, but, the sheer length of time and the location would make this a pretty hard story to slip under the radar.
    whether it’s effective or not, it is definetly laudable.
    they may not have stopped any wars, certainly not with george bush in the white house, but they have influenced many i’m sure (they certainly have my respect). with the obamas living across the street, maybe things will be different. maybe the vigil will at least be acknowledged. yeah, jim, that is commitment.

  • Tom

    i actually talked to this guy two years ago when i was visiting Washington with my grandson and staying at a friends house there. He’s living the life of a monk dedicated to peace.

    Yeah, like your letter to the editor and all the protests we’ve participated in over the years, one hopes it has an effect on what’s actually going on in our country and the world.

    Has it? Is anyone in our corporatocracy paying any attention at all to anything other than making money at all costs? Especially the politicians – are they advancing peace anywhere? Are they helping us out of this financial disaster created by the big Wall Street banks and insurance giants combined with lax and non-inforced regulations by our government watch-dog agencies (like the SEC and the Fed)?

    Like Ghandi and Martin Luther King, we aren’t going to stop our efforts to bring about peaceful reform, but it’s mighty disappointing and frustrating trying to influence a government that doesn’t work for us anymore, doesn’t listen to our concerns (or take them seriously when they do), and is backed up by the monied interest groups influencing policy detrimental to our wellbeing (not to mention ignoring environmental concerns) in favor of the power brokers and the wealthy few. It’s especially grating when we actually succeed in getting a so-called progressive in the White House based on CHANGE WE CAN BELIEVE IN and nothing of the kind happens.

    Okay, rant’s over – see you tomorrow and we’ll try it again.

  • I would like to see a vigil outside the Whitehouse with a banner about 3 feet high, 20 feet long, saying to Obama: “KEEP YOUR PROMISES”

    Seems Concepcion could include a small version among her signage, but a big one might actually have some effect.

    Listening to speeches Obama gave in 2008, it is painfully clear he did make wonderful promises that he has not kept. Shame

    Joe Friendlyh

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