Group marks war anniversary

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There were no arrests, no violent protests, no flags set ablaze.

Just a group of concerned and dedicated citizens, many of them Veterans for Peace members who stand at John Rich Park every Friday peacefully protesting the Iraq war.

With signs in hand, they began their vigil as they do every week - a visual reminder to motorists passing through Red Wing's downtown area.

Then - a cold spring rain falling heavily - they took their message to City Hall and the National Guard Armory several blocks away.

"We need to keep this message ever before the people," said Paul Christenson, who joined Friday's march. "It's good to be here week after week so people become accustomed to seeing it and think twice about it."

Friday marked the anniversary of the war, which began with a missile and bombing attack on south Baghdad before dawn on March 20, 2003 - March 19 in Washington. Baghdad fell to U.S. forces on April 9, 2003.

Active participants in the local Veterans for Peace group have dropped off over the years from around 30 to 12. The group's core members say they'll protest as long as necessary but are hopeful change will come.

"We still need to keep this issue at the forefront, even if it is only once a week," said Veterans for Peace member Bill Habedank. "I like to think I'm doing some good to change minds. Even if it's one person it's worth it."

The group tried to enter City Hall, which was closed for the day. Instead, they stood on the front steps with a bullhorn.

Several marchers took the opportunity to speak.

"We are paying a price too which we can no longer afford in blood and money," Habedank said. "Those of you in City Hall, most of whom have remained silent these past six years, are now seeing the results of this war in being unable to keep providing the services that keep a city functioning.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.