Sticking With Peace
By Alyssa TilleyYou can find them on laptops, bike racks and bulletin boards around campus. They’re free, they’re simple, but they are powerful. They are the “Peace Please” stickers handed out by one of Flagstaff’s local peace activists, Uncle Don.
Sept. 11, 2001 sparked the beginning of the “Peace Please” stickers. Uncle Don and a friend started talking about what they could do to help and the idea of a bumper sticker came to mind because he wanted something that would “be visible, original and reach a lot of people.” He printed the stickers off his home printer and began handing them out the day after the 9/11 tragedy.
Since 2001, Uncle Don has continued to spread the stickers as far as he can reach. He believes that “sometimes you miss a miracle if you aren’t watching out for one . . . sometimes we get to be God’s hands and feet and mouth” and therefore his dedication continues and the stickers travel farther. He was told by a man that he had seen one on the fence at Ground Zero in New York City and after seeing the sticker the man decided to move to Flagstaff because he could tell “something was happening here.” Uncle Don has also seen photos or heard stories of the stickers on signs near the Extraterrestrial Highway in Nevada as well as in many other cities around the world. Another person claims they took the stickers to northern Africa and took photos of people holding the “Peace Please” stickers while riding camels in the Sahara.
The message of “Peace Please” has spread far and wide. Uncle Don does his part by handing the stickers out on the NAU campus, placing them in several stores in Flagstaff, including New Frontiers and Incahoots, mailing them wherever requested, as well as taking them with him when he travels to places such as UC Berkeley and UCLA. One story he recalls is when he took the stickers to a Republican rally at Fort Tuthill for Rick Renzi and George W. Bush. He claims he held them up for the president to see and that Secret Service agents and the police detained him until after the event because people in the audience had started tearing them from his hands. “It was a scary but very inspiring experience,” he recalls.
Working as a writer and proofreader out of his family’s home office during the day, one may wonder what drives Uncle Don to keep advocating for his cause of peace. After more than ten years since the terrorist attack on Sept.11 that sparked the creation of the stickers, why is it still pertinent for him to keep spreading his message?
Uncle Don believes that “our leaders took advantage of our nation’s grief from 9/11 to trick us into today’s policy of ‘never ending war’.” He goes on to articulate that “wars happen because war feeds upon the love of those who care so much about their country that they’re willing to put their lives on the line to protect it.” He points out that war leaves marks on the people, environment, and economies involved. Agent Orange, Gulf War Syndrome, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, brain injuries, etc. have lasting effects for those who encounter them. He states that war destroys the “potential of soldiers, war zone non-combatants and our world’s economy and environment.” He explains that war is only profitable for a “small number of us” and “if we gamble away all of our resources and people, our losses in war only subsidize the profiteers.” With all of these effects he’s worried that “we may never be able to clean up after our modern wars.” Even after ten years, his passion for peace has not dwindled, which is reflected in the stickers that have spread across the country and even to other continents.
Uncle Don acknowledges that the stickers alone can’t banish war from the Earth. However, they accomplish his goal. He wants people to know they are not alone in their hopes for peace. They make people conscious of the costs of war, and they make people ponder what the phrase “Peace Please” means to them and the world surrounding them.