Fasting for Peace in Iraq
56 days on the steps of the Oregon State Capitol
March 17, 2003 to May 11, 2003 
updated 02/09/04 at 13:44 PST



The mind of man
knows no employment
more worthy of its powers
than the quest of righteousness
In human affairs
no goal of its labours
that is superior to
the discovery of the good
in the guidance of life

--Inscription to the 
right of the doors 
to the Capitol of Oregon

Oregon State Capitol, courtesy of
Oregon's Capitol Building
Photo courtesy

Sunday, 11 May 2003
Mothers Day
Fast day 56
Michele concludes her fast.
Michele and her friends reluctantly concluded their fast today. Michele writes, "We chose Mother's Day to conclude our vigil in honor of the original intent of its creator; Julia Ward-Howe, who advocated tirelessly for recognition of 'Mother's Day for Peace' in 1870. The original Mother's Day proclamation can be found at"

Michele Darr keeps vigil on the capitol steps.
Michele Darr keeps 
a wet and rainy vigil 
on the capitol steps.
Photo by Michael Heggen.


The war in Iraq was wrong, and remains wrong.


Michele's Journal
Attack on Capitol Vigil
An Interview with Michele Darr

Blessed are the peacemakers, 
for they shall be called 
children of God.
--Matthew 5:9

Michele Darr lives in Salem, Oregon. She has been involved in peace and social justice work since high school. She volunteers extensively with Oregon Peaceworks.



While most people with opposing viewpoints have been respectful of Michel's vigil, all too many have not -- particularly the people who fired paintballs at the vigil early on 29 March 2003 and the people who assaulted and menaced Michele and fellow vigil-keepers on the morning of 30 March 2003. Regardless of your opinion on the war, these are completely non-violent protesters exercising their First and Fourth Amendment rights to free speech and assembly. These civil liberties are vital to any democracy and must be protected. Please challenge those who believe that non-violent protest should be met with physical violence.

20 March 2003 (Salem, Oregon)
by Michael Heggen

ichele Darr began a fast at sunrise on Monday, March 17, 2003. She started out with a complete fast (i.e. not eating any solid food, and drinking only vitamin teas, coffee, and water). After ten days, she switched to a Ramadan-style fast (i.e. no food or drink sunrise to sunset) in order to actually have enough energy to be able to talk to people during the day.

She is staging her fast on the steps of the Oregon State Capitol in Salem, where she has been sleeping in the open (and often wet) air since March 17th. Oregon State Police (who have been very professional, she says) will not allow tents or any structures other than a patio umbrella and a tarp, which must be removed early each morning before the building opens, so her vigil is not especially comfortable..

I interviewed Michele on Wednesday, March 19, 2003. She agreed to keep a journal of her experiences during her vigil. I am posting almost-daily updates from her journal on this site. Occasionally, someone else will post a journal entry as well.

Just in the first three days of her vigil, Michele found herself the subject of several school projects by students who are visiting the capitol. One student said that she wanted to document Michele's vigil because it was part of our history.

Michele says that she will maintain her vigil and fast "indefinitely". She will stay on the capitol steps until there is closure in Iraq, she says.

Note: Michele reluctantly concluded her fast on May 11, 2003, citing pressures in her personal life (like work and housing). She remains active in peace and justice work.

 Worst experience during vigil: "Hearing about George W. Bush's speech [giving Saddam 48 hours or else] on Monday."

Best experience during vigil:
"The people, on both sides."


Thank you to...

The locally-owned Coffeehouse Cafe helped Michele by supplying a commercial-sized thermos full of coffee, which she freely shared with passers-by. 

Additionally, locally-owned coffeehouse and coffee roaster The Governor's Cup was very kind to deliver hot drinks with personal messages of encouragement.

And local dry cleaner Downtown Cleaners supplied plastic to keep Michele's signs dry in the Oregon rain. 

Many individuals have also stopped by to express support after reading about her fast, keeping her supplied with candles, encouragement, and signs. Thank you!


Fasting for Peace in Iraq
  Creative Commons License - Some Rights Reserved
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
Web site text, design, and photos by Michael Heggen, except as noted. 
Journal entries by their respective authors.