Vigil held to push for peace

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There’s talk that if Syria surrenders its chemical weapons to international control, the country could avoid a military strike by the United States.

For many across the country and here in the Valley, finding a peaceful answer is the best solution. Despite the rain Monday evening, downtown Youngstown was filled with about 30 people who said they support a peaceful approach. They chanted for peace while holding their umbrellas and candles.

Those in the crowd said they want their elected officials to listen to them and that a possible military strike is not the answer. The group isn’t alone. An Associated Press poll showed the majority of Americans do not support a strike.

“Silence is the voice of complicity.  You must speak out in some way, if in no other way, pray for peace, brothers and sisters. Pray for peace,” said Werner Lange of Newton Falls.

“We don’t want war. We want peace. That’s the only reason we’re here. Because we want peace. We don’t want war,” said Fouad Mansour, who has relatives living in Syria.

For Fouad Mansour and his sister, Rena, the situation in Syria hits them directly. They have many relatives that live there now and keeping in contact through phone calls and Facebook hasn’t been easy.

“It’s so hard to wake up every day not knowing what’s happening, to call and just see if everyone is alive. The stress of that alone just kills you,” Rena Mansour said.

The show of support in Youngstown for a peaceful solution was important to them. Rena said she hopes her family and others in Syria can get the help they need.

“This is not something where throwing a bomb can end anything. This is actually going to make it ten times worse by killing more people,” Rena Mansour said.

As the group chanted for peace, they also shared ways to get involved and contact local lawmakers.

“Write your congressman, write your senator, write President Obama. Hold their feet to the fire and say if they don’t pursue peace, they’re going to get fired,” Lange said.

One of those local lawmakers, State Rep. Bob Hagan, D-Youngstown, was in the crowd supporting their efforts. He let them know he does not support a military strike.

“I want to make sure that my people in the district that I represent hear me and know that I’m opposed to it and that other public officials should also stand up and be counted and let people know exactly how they stand on this issue,” Hagan said.

President Barack Obama will address the nation Tuesday night on the situation in Syria.

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