Oak Ridge (WVLT) - Since the Iraqi war began in March of 2003, more than 3,200 U.S soldiers have lost their lives. Sixty-eight military men and women from Tennessee have died.
Peaceful war protesters say they support the troops, but they fear for those still in Iraq. On the war's fourth anniversary, they honor the 68 Tennesseans who've lost their lives fighting.
Bell tones resonate through a community...a community that's crying, praying, and pleading.
"We have to bring this to an end. This cannot go on," Reverend Howard Box says.
Instead, they want to see differences settled without fighting... they want a peaceful alternative.
"Diplomacy, actually getting people together and talking," Joan Nelson says.
This group hopes to connect with their community...
"The message is always mixed. Some of us are philosophical protesters, some of us are pacifists, some of us simply say this is the wrong war," Reverend Box says.
A war that's lost more than 3,200 in four years.
"The price is enormous, not just in dollars but in our standing in the world," Ray Garrett says.
Now this group is standing strong... sending their own message of hope.
"The best thing we can do to honor those is to try to stop it," Garrett continues.
Each year, on the war's anniversary, they gather to ring the Peace Bell in Oak Ridge.
"We just do not want the deaths to go on for another year," Nelson says.
They read what mothers have written about their lost loved ones, and they sing to remember those fighting, those wounded, and those lives lost.
Every Sunday, a group called "Democracy for East Tennessee" meets at the bell. They name each soldier killed that week, and ring the bell once in their memory.