HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS GATHER TO PROTEST WAR IN IRAQ
'Give peace a chance'
Meet Nolan Astrein, a bright young man with a vision for peace.
"I never thought that nearly a third of my life would be spent watching my country fight in a war," said the 16-year-old Seaholm High School student.
On Wednesday, he organized a candlelight vigil at Shain Park in Birmingham to mark the five-year anniversary of the Iraq war. Dozens showed up, young people and old, holding candles and carrying signs of peace.
"I don't know anyone who's been in the war," Astrein said. "But there's no telling how long this war could last ... and I realize in another time I would almost be at the perfect age for the draft."
The time he's referring to was the Vietnam war, a conflict his father opposed many decades ago.
"Back in the '60s he protested Vietnam," he said about his father, Gary Astrein, 57. "He's never imposed any of his views on me, but he always told me what he thought about things."
His own search for peace began three or four weeks ago, when he searched the Web site moveon.org for a local vigil to attend.
"I noticed there were none in the area, so I decided to do one on my own," he said. "At first it was just for other students, but then I posted something and within days a bunch of people wrote back and said they planned on attending."
Growing up in Birmingham in the heart of Oakland County, Astrein realizes there are very few people from this wealthy enclave who enlisted to fight. At the same time, he believes a majority from this area support the cause.
"The percentage of people from Oakland County who are fighting overseas is so low," he said. "Very few have siblings or cousins over there ... but it's not a good excuse. We should all be aware of the war."
It's a battle he opposes, a conflict he feels is senseless.
"This needs to be quickly brought to an end," Astrein said. "Bringing home all the troops in one day would be dramatic - but it should end in a year."
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