It may have been the largest BYU student gathering ever to protest an issue.
Approximately 400 students at Brigham Young University met Monday afternoon in a peace rally to discuss and think about how war in the Persian Gulf would affect each of them.And they had a lot to think about.
Warner Woodworth, a professor in BYU's organizational behavior department, said he was impressed with the participation.
"I remember 20 years ago when I was attending BYU and we were in a war and no one knew anything about it," Woodworth said. This is quite a change.
Marti Jones, one of the graduate students who organized the rally, said she and the other students believe their opinions and feelings mean something and will make a difference.
Woodworth agreed. "We can make a difference and be a part of the decisions."
Peace rallies have been organized around the country at other universities, and national peace rallies will take place in Washington, D.C., and San Francisco next week.
Several other protests also took place Monday in Utah, including ones at the state Capitol and the University of Utah.
Though the reactions at the BYU rally may have seemed calm by many other universities' standards, that does not mean the afternoon was entirely peaceful. Some debate did get heated outside the room where the rally was being held.
Some students who support the actions President Bush is pursuing in the Middle East said that those who are anti-war do not understand.
"We live in this world and we have a responsibility to do something in the gulf," one student outside the room nearly shouted at another who was pro-negotiation.
But most of those present seemed to believe that all avenues of diplomacy and negotiation had not been exhausted and they do not support the direction the tide is turning.
Political science professor Eric Hyer said, "We can choose to start a war, but we cannot choose to stop one."
Hyer feels the conflict could better be compared to the Korean War than to Adolf Hitler and World War II.
"We are all led to believe that this will be a quiet, short war," he said. That was the intention when the United States went into the Korean conflict, and it lasted three years with 55,000 casualties.
The military has ordered 40,000 body bags, Hyer said. That is not a good sign. They expect something to happen.
Woodworth said there has to be more to the diplomacy than just a few simple attempts at dialogue. He quoted American revolutionary Thomas Paine and said, "An army of principles will enter where an army of soldiers will not."
This is not the time for military clout, Woodworth said. "Wiping out an enemy has never brought peace as far as I can see in history."
Even Hyer, who said he is not necessarily anti-war, emphasized that he believes this is not the time for a war.
Robert Ford from BYU's geography department said the United States should take care of its domestic needs first.
"We would not be in this position if we had minded our own shop," Ford said. The United States should have made an energy policy long ago, and then it wouldn't have had to worry about oil in the Middle East.
But Ford also said he believes that when war breaks out - however right or wrong the reason - the citizens of the United States must stand behind the troops that are fighting.
Lino Mendiola, another graduate student organizer, made a plea to Bush and the congressional delegation from Utah when he said, "Please don't ask me to support your votes until you have entirely exhausted every possible diplomatic option."
- They sang "Blowing in the Wind," but the more than 300 Utahns gathered on the steps of the Capitol were there to pray for peace in the Persian Gulf, not protest against a war.
- University of Utah students, joined by young mothers and elderly residents in the Union Theatre, also bowed their heads in prayer Monday afternoon - asking help "to look at our brothers and sisters in love and not over the barrels of guns, cannons and missiles."
Their "Pray-in," sponsored by the Campus Crusade for Christ, united Christians, Jews and Muslims in a plea for a peaceful solution to the pending war.
- Downtown in the Federal Building in Salt Lake City, protests took a different tone as angry Vietnam veterans voiced opposition to American's involvement in yet another war.
"I love my country, and I hate to say it, but I think my country is wrong," said one veteran who crowded into Sen. Orrin Hatch's office, demanding an end to the Persian Gulf Crisis.
But the veterans' call for peace fell only on the ears of the senator's assistant; Hatch was still in Washington, D.C., on Monday. His absence, however, didn't soften the veterans' criticism of the senator's vote Saturday to support the use of force against Iraq.