Students Beyond War brought messages of peace and lumps of coal to four presidental campaign offices in Des Moines on a cold, sunny day before Christmas. The high-schoolers called upon all the presidential contenders to move "toward a civilian economy and away from perpetual warfare."
The students found Mitt Romney's and Newt Gingrich's offices locked, but were able to speak with campaign staffers for Barack Obama and Michele Bachmann. KCCI TV in Des Moines filed this report.
"We thought that the candidates weren't very open to hearing our peace position at all," said one girl. "But I still think it's good we went out there and left them our messages."
Another student decried the complacency of American society. "No one really agrees with these wars anymore," she said, "and yet we're still spending the majority of our money on them. It's just ridiculous."
Another girl explained, "The holiday season, no matter what religion you are, is about the qualities of generosity and goodwill. So this was a good opportunity for us to show them that, with all this military spending, they're really not exhibiting those qualities at all."
The students were accompanied by Jeffrey Weiss, Executive Director of Catholic Peace Ministry, sometime Santa, and former peace education director with AFSC Iowa. One of the longest-running, autonomous high-school peace groups in the country, Students Beyond War meets weekly at Friends House, home of AFSC's Central Regional Office in Des Moines.