Monday, October 9, 2006

women in black

Early in the afternoon on September 20, I went to downtown LaCrosse to stand with the Women in Black. Five of us stood on a street corner for half an hour. We silently held up signs with messages that asked for an end to the war in Iraq. The response that we received from passing cars was more positive than negative. I found that to be very encouraging.
When the vigil was over, I went to lunch with June Kjome, who had done quite a bit to plan my trip to LaCrosse, Wisconsin. I got her to tell me something about herself. She said that she had spent nineteen years in South Africa as a nurse-midwife. She went there in 1945 with a Lutheran service organization. The apartheid situation was very difficult for her. She said that, if she had spoken out against it, she would have been called a "persona non grata" and deported. If she didn't speak out, she would appear to be giving apartheid tacit approval. In the 1960s, however, June had to return home to help care for her elderly parents. She got a job in a hospital and helped her parents until they passed away. After June retired from nursing, she became a full-time activist, which she continues to do to this day. She's had knee replacement surgery and is losing her eyesight to glaucoma, but she persists in her work for peace and justice.
After June and I parted, I took a walk along the Mississippi River. It was a beautiful day. I saw a river boat (the Mississippi Delta), which was docked at the park. I also saw people dressed in nineteenth century costumes. I also spent some time in a peace park, which boasted a Chinese garden. After that, it was time for dinner, so I went back to the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration.

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