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Five years and counting, a peace vigil stands firm

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Yet she and other activists regard their work as an underreported, sometimes even unreported, story. Some fault the media for not taking them seriously enough. Either newspapers don't cover events, Mrs. Fleming says, or if they do, they run a black-and-white photo and bury the story in the back of the paper. "They don't realize how passionate those of us who participate are and how important our message is."

She traces the beginning of these local peace vigils to the fall of 2002, before the Iraq war began. "At that time, everybody thought if they got out on the streets, they could stop the war," Mrs. Fleming says. "We had lots and lots of people."

After the war started, the group continued to protest, although its numbers dwindled. "A lot of people passing by were very dismissive of us, to put it nicely," she says. "They thought we were traitors. They yelled obscenities or would rush by in their pickup trucks and scream at us."

Over the years, pedestrians have stopped to argue with the group. Others come by to thank them for doing this. These days most comments they receive are positive, Mrs. Fleming finds.

Mr. Fleming, shifting from foot to foot against the damp cold, adds, "In the last few months, people seem friendlier."

Many in this group are middle-age and beyond, although a young father with a 3-year-old son sometimes joins them on the common.

One regular participant, Elise Boulding, describes herself as "a peace activist all my life." A Quaker, she taught peace studies at various universities, including Dartmouth in Hanover, N.H., and the University of Michigan. She was also nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 1990.

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