When the number of U.S. military casualties in Iraq hit 1,000, area activists gathered with their call for peace. They assembled again when the death toll reached 2,000 and 3,000, and they've assembled nearly every week in between.
This week marked yet another milepost in the war: the climbing of the U.S. military death toll in Iraq to 4,000.
Peace activists on Tuesday evening lined up along Massachusetts Street in front of the Douglas County Courthouse for a candlelight vigil honoring the dead. At one point, about 60 people were gathered.
"It just seems the least we can do," Lawrence resident Matt Bova said. "In so many ways, it feels like our hands are tied and we're unable to make the progress that we want, and yet it's inadequate just to stay home on an occasion like this."
The vigil, sponsored by Lawrence Coalition for Peace and Justice, was organized to mourn the human cost of war, support Iraq's reconstruction and call for the return of U.S. troops.
Juliann Morland, a Kansas University law student, said 4,000 people is the size of her entire hometown.
"I think it's an important message to show that we support our troops, but that we're against the war," she said of her presence at the vigil. "I think the message here is it's about the troops tonight, and it's about the deaths and mourning."
Bova recalled one national magazine reporting Americans' tolerance for U.S. troop casualties was 1,000.
"We're well beyond 1,000 now," he said. "That means we're into the intolerable level, apparently. If it was true in 2004, it's got to be more true now."