Vigil held in Hemming Park to support peace in Syria

Organizers say vigil about creating awareness for people suffering in Syria

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – For the second time in a week, people rallied in Hemming Park in support of peace in war-torn Syria. It was a much calmer scene Thursday night compared to a protest last week that ended with six arrests.

The candlelight vigil was organized by the Women's March Florida Jacksonville Chapter.

Organizers said the 30-minute event was all about creating awareness for the people suffering in Syria.

Jacksonville was one of many cities across the U.S. where people gathered for candlelight vigils to remember the victims of the deadly civil war that has been taking place in Syria since 2011.

"In churches, in halls, in streets and in parks, people are lighting candles in remembrance of the men, women and children who were gassed to death," one speaker said.

Mohammed Mona, who moved to the U.S. from Syria in 1974, said he has a lot of family still living in Syria.

"I really worry about them every day," Mona said. "I think about them every day and what they're going through. It's a horrible situation."

Mona said his family members and others he knows in Syria have no control over the country's fate.

"They're not the ones making the decisions. It's just all the outside forces," Mona said. "I'm just hoping that our leadership will exert more effort to bring peace."

Others who attended the vigil were also present at last Friday's protest of the U.S. bombing in Syria that followed a chemical attack launched by Syria's president that killed 100 people.

"I believe violence begets violence and I don't believe it is right for us to say they shouldn't be bombing their people so we're going to bomb their people," Veterans for Peace member Eleanor Wilson said.

But what can a vigil in Jacksonville do to help Mona's family and others living in Syria?

"It's creating awareness. It's turning a light on in someone's head, hopefully multiple people's heads," vigil speaker Rabbi Howard Tilman said.

"I think there's a lot of questions of how we should be treating the situation in Syria and the tragedy that's going on there, and I think we can all hopefully agree much on is that it’s a tragedy," vigil participant Lori Shad said.

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