Community members honor fallen soldiers from the Iraq war

Catrina Cieslik

A grim new milestone marks the fifth anniversary of war in Iraq without an end in sight.

A program of reflection and remembrance called War and Life Lost — A Program of Reflection and Remembrance was offered on Friday night at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Kent. The program, noting the anniversary of the Iraq war and 4,000 U.S. casualties, was sponsored by the church’s Social Justice Committee.

A group of roughly 50 members from around the community listened to music, prayers, poems, plays and speeches that honored the memory of all those whose lives have been sacrificed.

A short playlet, “Intergalactic Duologue,” by Akron playwright and actor Frank Jackman was performed by active church participants Ted Voneida and Saunis Parsons as an opening act to the program. Voneida and Parsons pretended to be intergalactic beings who saw Earthlings as a race with many hideous flaws.

“Human beings are a very violent and vindictive race that has an inability to coexist with others,” Parsons said. “They view war as the means to control and exterminate.”

Then Voneida went on to discuss how the Iraq war can be compared to Philippine American War of 1892, through the famous “War Prayer” written by Mark Twain.

“The timeliness relates as much to the Iraqi War as it does to the devastation and carnage as we brought to the Philippines,” Voneida said.

Other exceptional performances included Henry David Thoreau’s “On the Duty of Civil Disobedience” read by active church participant, Sally Burnell and piano arrangements of “We Shall Overcome” and “Prayer” played by Scott Duncan and Cari Orris.

The night’s performances ended with “Trio #13 in E-flat minor: Passacaglia and Fugue Dedicated to the Victim’s of Bush and bin Laden” by Cincinnati composer Rick Sowash. The piece was performed by Black Squirrel Trio members Bob Erdman, piano; Elizabeth Sanders, clarinet; and Caroline Arnold, cello.

“Trio #13 in E-flat minor” is just one of 250 pieces that Sowash has composed. He composed this particular piece as a message to other countries that there are Americans that do not agree with Bush’s decisions.

Sowash said the things that outrage him are how these two men (Bush and bin Laden) preach about peace and tolerance but continue to fight in a war that has sacrificed so many lives.

“(Bush) seems to have forgotten all those peace loving things that Jesus has articulated,” Sowash said.

By the end of the night, tears flooded the eyes of several of the members who attended the performance.

“It was just so wonderful seeing talented individuals sharing their wonderful talents in music with us,” local church participant Diane Kloss said.

Contact religion reporter Catrina Cieslik at [email protected].