Monday was the 4th anniversary of the start of the Iraq war. Memorials were set up around the country and ceremonies were held in honor of those who have lost their lives. The Panama City chapter of Move On-dot-Org held a service downtown.
About 30 people showed up holding anti-war signs and carrying American flags but it wasn't your typical rally. This one had a quiet, more somber tone.
Standing on the steps of the U-S District Court House in downtown Panama City, and only lit by the flames of their candles, volunteers with Move On-dot-Org took turns reading the names of the 130 fallen soldiers that are from Florida. At the same time, other volunteers read stories written by people who had lost their loved ones due to the war.
These stories are part of an Iraq War Memorial documentary filmed by an independent film maker associated with the organization. According to Move-On.Org there are 1186 events like this one taking place all over the country, including 3 in our area and 3 in Tallahassee.
Volunteer Bill Pritchard says the growth of such rallies shows that the public opinion is changing especially in an area greatly influenced by the military. “I believe it really is telling you that the public is drastically changing its opinions. In this area especially, because of the military base it lags behind a bit, but all the events tell me that even people here are changing their opinions."
Pritchard says Monday night’s event had two main purposes. One was to send a message to congress that it's time to bring the troops home. But he says the deeper meaning behind the candlelight vigil is to honor the families and friends of all the fallen and wounded soldiers.