STAUNTON — Days after a U.S. drone strike on a Baghdad airport that killed Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani, about a dozen anti-war supporters gathered Monday at the Augusta County courthouse steps to show opposition to current escalation toward war with Iran.

For about an hour, anti-war supporters displayed handmade signs with their messages including: ‘No war in Iran,’ ‘Start impeachment trial not war,’ and ‘Just say no to war.’

Members of Reclaim Augusta, an organization whose mission is to care for the county, and the Shenandoah Valley Chapter of the Poor People’s Campaign, a national campaign for moral revival, plan to gather every Monday for the cause until “war is not a threat.”

“This is something that we all felt passionately about and felt that we needed to make a statement,” said Jennifer Trippeer, chair of Reclaim Augusta. “There are so many people who feel passionately that war has no place in our world and the cost in every way is too much.”

Stephanie Ward, a member of the local Poor People’s Campaign, agreed.

“I feel like to an extent it’s praying on the poor,” she said. “If we get to this point, it’s the kids who don’t have a wealthy family who will end up being drafted.”

Having a 21-year-old son makes the anti-war effort personal for Ward, but she says as a citizen, it’s her duty to speak out.

“It’s my duty to do my part and speak out against an unjust war. We all have a responsibility to take a stand if we feel this isn’t the right thing to do,” Ward said. “There is no clear military strategy here. This was done without going through Congress. It was announced by tweet. I don’t see how anyone can feel safe living in a country where things are run that way.”

The Washington Post reported that Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the military would “follow the laws of armed conflict” when asked whether the U.S. military was prepared to strike Iranian cultural sites. Esper also said that the U.S. remains prepared for any contingency with regard to Iran, and the message is that the “ball remains in their court.”

For the anti-war gatherers, Trippeer said their message is about love.

“It’s really about loving people. We’re all the same across the world,” she said. “That’s what’s so tragic. There are civilians there who are going to be hurt and who knows how that will affect us here sending our young women and men overseas. I just think war has too high a cost to be something we can resort to.”

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Logan Bogert is a reporter for The News Virginian in Waynesboro, Virginia. She can be reached at lbogert@newsvirginian.com or (540) 932-3562. Follow Logan on Twitter at @Logan_Bogert.

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