MARYLAND: Cathedral is site for Peace Witness

September 22, 2009

On the day designated by the United Nations as the International Day of Peace, the Cathedral of the Incarnation, Baltimore, hosted a Peace Witness, a reading of the names of the American service men and women killed in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2002.

It was one of several similar vigils held at Episcopal churches and cathedrals on Sept. 21 in response to a call to action from Episcopal Peace Fellowship, an independent organization originally founded in 1939.

The reading on Sept. 21 of more than 4,800 names was led by the Rev. Hal T. Ley Hayek, dean-elect of the cathedral, and the Rev. Madeleine Beard, deacon of St. Mark's Episcopal Church, Highland (Maryland), both members of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship. Visitors joined in the reading of names. There were approximately 30 witnesses to the reading, which was scheduled from 5 to 8 p.m.

Beard's son spent 15 months in Iraq and lost a friend in combat. Before he was deployed Beard asked what she could do and he asked that she pray for him.

"When he came home at Christmas that year he said 'Mom, maybe you should just say everyone's name?' and then I started to say them in church and during my own prayers every morning and I pray the names when they appear in the newspaper. I think it's important for them to know they are remembered," Beard said.

Another partner in the Peace Witness was Gary Gillespie, director of the American Friends Service Committee Baltimore Urban Peace Program. Gillespie's office provided banners that illustrated what the daily cost of the Iraq War, estimated by the organization to be $720 million, could buy. The banners lined the steps of the Cathedral, where music stands held the binders containing the names of the fallen.