Virginia Merkel, a woman of uncommon courage
Virginia Merkel has passed.
I remember her strength the most. More than 10 years ago, she stood with Sharon Liu to protest our government's actions. Few saw this anger and fear begin growing and led into the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Virginia did, and asked Sharon to stand with her around the mission bell in the Plaza in protest. Tiona saw them, parked her car and joined them. Three women standing alone in protest. It took courage that we seldom witness.
Virginia was the root of that courage. She felt the government was heading toward war and this was a mistake. A war was the wrong response to the attack of 9/11. The country was seized with fear. Revenge was mounting and moving Congress to move. President Bush was to see an opportunity to avenge Saddam Hussein. Old history now.
Virginia and I had mutual acquaintances in Berkeley. She telephoned me and asked me to come to a meeting of a new group that had formed. Sonoma Valley Peace and Justice was to continue the Plaza protest for more than 10 years. Virginia kept calling, but I was busy moving to Sonoma from Berkeley and was slow to join. But Virginia kept calling and, finally, I joined the group. She was persistent. Thank you, Virginia.
Peace was not the only important issue for Virginia. As you read her obituary, it tells of her commitment to the environment, to her family and to this community. She led the way often.