VFP Newsletter Summer 2018 VETERANS FOR PEACE VETERANS FOR PEACEOrganized locally. Recognized Internationally. Exposing the True Costs of War and Militarism Since 1985 ELLEN DAVIDSON Rightassie Cheron, a third grader at Hyannis West Elementary, reads her poem, Peace Is, at the 2018 Memorial Day ceremony in Cape Cape Cod VFP Chapters 23rd Annual Voices of Peace poetry contest. After delivering some of the 78 Letters to The Wall collected by Doug Rawlings for this fourth annual VFP ritual in Washington, D.C., VFP member Nate Goldshlag takes time to read one of the letters, which are left unsealed for this purpose. VFP volunteers also helped keep watch 24/7 at Roger Ehrlichs nearby Swords to Plowshares Belltower. VFP Chapters 74 and 93 joined forces to set up Arlington Michigan (below) in Grand Circus Park, Detroit, as a Memorial Day observance. The display garnered local TV cover thanks in part to a Detroit Tigers game nearby. Veterans For Peace Observe Memorial Day in Solemn Ceremonies Nationwide At noon on Memorial Day, after laying letters at The Wall, VFP members walked with these banners to the Korean War Veterans Memorial and held a special ceremony celebrating recent moves toward peace by North and South Korean leaders, and expressing hope for a lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula. Links to more photos of D.C. events can be found under the Events tab at vietnamfulldisclosure.org. ELLEN DAVIDSON ELLEN DAVIDSON
2 Veterans For Peace Newsletter Presidents Message Interesting Times, Indeed May you live in interesting times, goes the saying. Well, none of us are likely to die from bore dom. And while our challenges are great with an openly racist and misogynistic megalomaniac in the White House and an opposition party focused on Russiagate, we must also recognize this as a time of great awakening, when many, many people are asking the right questions and strongly expressing their desires for a more peaceful, healthy, and equitable world for all. With over 3,000 members and VFP chapters in over 100 U.S. cities, our purposeful work continues: educating about the true costs of war; restraining our government(s) from intervening, overtly and covertly, in the internal af fairs of other nations; seeking justice for veterans and victims of war; pushing for the elimination of all nuclear weapons, and the abolition of war altogether. Our mantra, Peace at Home, Peace Abroad, connects struggles against war and mili tarism with struggles here at home. VFP continues to speak out as cost ly U.S. wars continue to rage in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Somalia, and Syria. We dare be hopeful at nascent eorts for peace in Korea, as we decry preparations for war against Iran, and protest the U.S. military support given to Saudi Arabia in a cruel campaign that is starving millions in Yemen, and work to expose the ongoing U.S. undermining of democratically elected governments in Venezuela and Nicaragua. We cannot stand silently by as we watch poverty, fear, and violence esca late at home. Cruel deportation policies, institutionalized racism and the erosion of religious freedom, stark class divisions, loss of a social safety net, privatization of everything e list of grievances is both long and longstanding, but the blatant racism, sexism, and cruelty of the present administration has fueled so much indignation, its no wonder the nation responded so vociferously to the cries of the Central American children separated from their parents at the border. Yes! We do care about the lives of others beyond our borders. We call out the evils we see, at home and abroad: Abject greed is rapacious and relentless. Bipartisan policies aimed at maximizing investments with no regard for human life are immoral. War for prot is nothing but violent, orga nized crime at the highest level, seeking to exploit every corner of the globe and dominate all its peoples, for the sake of wealth. U.S. imperialism tolerates no regional strong man, no popular resis tance, no sovereignty, and no socialism. It pursues regime change by any means possible, even if that means dancing with the devil. Seeing so many spontaneous peoples movements rising to meet the challenges of these times gives us hope! Standing Rock, Occupy (and now Occupy ICE!), Black Lives Matter, the Womens March, the #Me Too movement, Marching for Our Lives. Change is in the air! Veterans For Peace is proud to be an endorsing partner of the Poor Peoples Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival (PPC), which just concluded its rst 40 days of education and action with a mass rally in Washington, D.C. on June 23. A good number of VFP members rallied or spoke or got them selves arrested during that kicko period, and you can read more about that in other parts of this newsletter. I am always amazed by the breadth and diversity of the actions taken by Veterans For Peace to make this world a better place. We march. We vigil. We fast. We sail. We take direct action and sometimes go to jail. We write poems. We write letters to the editor. We express ourselves on blogs and in books, in art, and lm and radio projects. We publish great newspapers. We speak in class rooms. We educate our Congressional representatives. We travel to dierent regions of the world to express solidarity with communities adversely impacted by U.S. policies. VFP works in coalition with a great number of other peace and social justice groups, local, national, and internation al. Now an international organization, with chapters in England, Ireland, Oki nawa, Japan, Viet Nam (U.S. expats), and Mexico (deported veterans), we are working toward holding a major interna tional veterans peace conference within a couple years. We are a sponsor of the First Inter national Conference Against US/NATO Military Bases being held in Dublin, Ireland, November 16-18, andthat same weekendmany of our members will converge at the SOAW Encuentro at the Border in Tucson, Arizona, and Nogales, Arizona/Sonora, to make con nections between U.S. political, military and economic policies in Latin America and the plight of migrants and refugees at our borders. Many of us have stood with Standing Rock and are still doing so. And VFP is at the helm of the histor ic Golden Rule peace boat, which will soon set sail for Hawaii and the Pacic Islands. I am honored and humbled to serve as President of Veterans For Peace Board of Directors at this moment. I am grateful to be working with our great Executive Director, Michael McPhear son, and with a fantastic national sta and board. I am also happy to be working with the wonderful Twin Cities Chapter in planning for the 2018 con vention in St. Paul, Minnesota, August 22-26. I hope to see you there, as we re new our collective commitment to peace, projecting veterans voices into the his torical struggles of our times. Everyone in Veterans For Peace has an important role to play in building the new peoples movements that these times require. Peace at Home, Peace Abroad! G C B P, VFP
Summer 2018 3 VFP NATIONAL STAFF Michael T. McPhearson EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR Shelly Rockett BUSINESS MANAGER Colleen Kelly COMMUNICATIONS COORD. Gail Aquino ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT Doug Zachary MEMBERSHIP/DEVELOPMENT COORD. Samantha Ferguson PROGRAM AND EVENTS COORD. Helen Jaccard GOLDEN RULE PROJECT MANAGER firstname.lastname@example.org 314-725-6005 NEWSLETTER Becky Luening NEWSLETTER EDITOR Doug Rawlings CONTRIBUTING EDITOR W. D. Ehrhart CONTRIBUTING EDITOR email@example.com NEXT DEADLINE FOR CHAPTER REPORTS: DECEMBER 3, 2018 Guidelines Keep it conciseunder 200 words if at all possible. Submit your report in an email message, or as an attach ment to a message, sent to the editor email address listed above. Title your report with your chapter number and name, and dont forget to include the reporters name at followed by your chapter number, followed by underscore & your locale, e.g. CH001_Maine. Photos with good contrast and high resolution print best. Please include a caption, and If sending a group shot, remember to identify everyone in the picture. BOARD OF DIRECTORS Gerry Condon, President Adrienne Kinne, V.P. Monique Salhab, Secretary Kourtney Andar, Treasurer Mark Foreman Dan Shea Brian Trautman Barry Ladendorf Patrick McCann Maurice Martin Monisha Rios Joey King Marti Downing ADVISORY BOARD Edward Asner Andrew J. Bacevich Medea Benjamin Phyllis Bennis Roy Bourgeois Jackson Browne Paul Chappell Charlie Clements Marjorie Cohn John Dear Phil Donahue Daniel Ellsberg Bill Fletcher Jr. Chris Hedges Matthew Hoh Ann Jones Kathy Kelly David Krieger Pete McCloskey Ray McGovern Ralph Nader Yoko Ono Miko Peled Jeremy Scahill Roy Scranton Margaret Stevens Oliver Stone David Swanson Cornel West Col. Ann Wright How We Treat One Another Along with the external work we do to promote world peace, Veterans For Peace admittedly has much internal work to do. We must, as they say, become the peace we wish to see. In recent years we have made progress in recruiting younger veterans, including women and veter ans of color. Yet we remain an organi zation of predominantly white male Vietnam-era veterans, with attendant patterns of behavior. If we are to become a more diverse organization, we need to be sensitive to the concerns of our newer members. When our words or actions are perceived as sexist, ageist, or even racist, we may feel that is not right or fair. If we get defensive, however, we do not listen or learn. Hot-button responses only make the situation worse. Women, younger veterans, and people of color may begin to wonder if they are in the wrong organization. Of course, sexism, ageism, and racism can aict anyone. In general, we must all learn to treat one another with respect and in a spirit of nonviolence. e VFP Board of Directors has developed a Code of Conduct to help guide board mem bers in these matters. We will be sharing it with VFP chapters, along with other resources for facilitating sometimesdicult discussions about sexism, racism, and ageism. We believe such discussions will help us become stronger and more eective in carrying out our mission. Onward! Gerry Condon, Board President How do you wish to receive your newsletter? If you prefer an electronic version be sent to your inbox, please send your name and email address to firstname.lastname@example.org
4 Veterans For Peace Newsletter ank You, VFP, for Your Service to Humanity Recently, I spent time with Veterans For Peace members in Seattle, Los An geles, San Diego, and Tijuana, Mexico. My experience on this trip was a stark reminder why I am in Veterans For Peace and the importance and urgency of our work. In Seattle, I joined with chapter members to stand in solidarity with the undocumented immigrant community at the Families Belong Together rally, to demand that children not be separated from their parents, and those who have been, be reunited immediately. What a strange and outrageous demand to have to make. Basic decency dictates that this demand should be a common expec tation held up by all. But not today, as hate and treating people with contempt and disdain has become commonplace. e event was sponsored by many organizations, including the local Seattle VFP chapter. By the time I arrived at the rally outside the Federal Detention Cen ter in Sea Tac, thousands had gathered. But our people were easy to nd, as our ags ew high in the crowd. Our symbol of peacea black helmet with a white dove carrying an olive branchew visible at many rallies across the country that day. Days later, I traveled south and spent time with L.A. Chapter members during a modest gathering hosted by one of our indispensable associate members, Kathleen Hernandez, at her home in Topanga, California. It is always great to commune with veteran and associate members of VFP and meet awesome peace activists. We had a great meal and shared ideas and experiences as we schemed to bring about peace. I was pleasantly surprised to participate in the planting and dedication of a Peace Tree. It was an armation of our humanity and responsibility to tend and respect Mother Earth. I was humbled to meet Colombian-born poet and writer, Antonieta Villamil, whose brother was disappeared, and sister murdered by Columbian gang members. She and VFP veteran member Mark Lipman shared with us powerful examples of their poetry. e next day, I had the honor of join ing chapter members for the Arlington West Memorial at Santa Monica Beach. Currently led by president Michael Lindley, the chapter has accomplished the incredible feat of setting up this memorial every Sunday for 13 years to remind people of the human cost of war. e memorial includes paying respect to all who have died in war. It is incredibly moving and was a crystal-clear reminder why I am a veteran for peace. Spending time there, the most poignant moments, for me, came from watching and talking to people. e memorial organizers have set up a large dry-erase board inviting beach visitors to answer the question, What would you do to promote peace in the world? e board is set up near showers, so there is a line of people nearly always in front of it. All day long, people write dierent messages. One person wrote, ank you for destroying ISIS. is saddened me, reminding me how much fear controls what we think and do. e powers that be overwhelm us with messages of fear, constantly keeping an enemy before us to justify their wars. Saddam Hussein, the Taliban, Saddam again, the Shia insurgents in Iraq, the Sunni insurgents in Iraq, Gadda, and now ISIL. Who is next? Our greatest obstacles are fear, the belief that war is inevitable, andlike I once thoughtthat war is a necessary evil. People will not try to bring about something they do not think is possible. We cannot discount these fears, because they are deep and legitimate. We must nd ways to help people see that peace is possible. I am happy to report, however, the spirit of peace is alive and well. I watched a young girl who must have been about 6 or 7 answer the question. She struggled a bit, because the ink in the marker was running out, so her writing was faint. Determined, she reached for another marker, which I handed to her. She n ished and darkened the faint words. She wrote, Hold Hands with one another. Her wisdom in this simple sentiment brought tears to my eyes. I spoke to a young man who is plan ning to enter the military. He saw the tribute to the 21 veterans who die by sui cide each day. He wanted to know more about VFP. When discussing why he was joining the military, he said, Its really not about the money. Ive done some bad things in my life. I was in a gang, thats why I have this stupid tattoo, pointing to his chest. I want to do good things. If Im going to ght, I might as well ght for something good. We talked more about what it means to do good in life, and how much of what we do in the military is motivated by lies, sending poor people to ght poor people and to kill innocent civilians. ere was much agreement. I gave him my card in case he ever needed anything or just to talk. I dont think I dissuaded him, but I know he has some things to think about. Executive Directors Report Michael McPhearson Executive Director, Veterans For Peace It is always great to commune with veteran and associate members of VFP and meet awe some peace activists. Report continued on page 27
Summer 2018 5 FINDING WORK AFTER WAR Our sons join the army to get work being shot at. Jim Harrison For a long time there were simultaneous wars, so work was good. Now the wars are winding down and our poor are unemployed. ey phone government hotlines then get disconnected. I know a stonemason disabled from battling his chisel. He says there will always be his kind of workthousands of gravestones stockpiled in the quarries of Vermont. He says hes willing to teach, but worries some might inscribe their own names. H. C. P H. C. Palmerrwas a battalion surgeon in the American War in VietrNam. He leads a writing program for veterans at the Writers Place in Kansas City. Finding Work After War is reprinted from Feet of the Messenger (BkMk Press, 2017). Roger H. Detwiler, a Marine in VietrNam, was severely injured when he was run over accidentally by an American tank. At least partly due to complications from his wartime injuries, he died Nov. 25, 2013. THE CHILDREN, OH, THE CHILDREN (a prose poem) It didnt matter how we got there because there we were. e draft, which had loomed as real and as deadly as natures greatest tempest, was a thing of the past, becausethere we were. e newsreels, the John Wayne movies, all the subcon scious motivations were behind us; becausethere we were. We were alone, so incredibly alone. is dark, depressed land, known to us as I Corps, was as far away from the light and the noise of home, as Pluto is from the sun. e people, scavenging our garbage and junk at dawn. e children, those half-naked, incredibly small keepers of a peoples humanity, were everywhere. ese were not children, but unsmiling little victims of a violent life; the only they had ever known. eir staring, dull little eyes, were like none we had ever known. ese children, who had asked for nothing, yet needed so much. ese children who ran for the scraps we uncon sciously threw aside. ese faces, the plight of all children, everywhere, who by fate and terrible misfortune, are cast into hell; without ever feeling a single moment of heaven. And it still goes on! Rf H. D Poetry VFP Project Update: The Golden Rule By Helen Jaccard VFPs Golden Rule team partnered with chapters in Southern California for a wonderful winter and spring! San Diego VFP Chapter 91 was particularly involved by providing crew, scheduling groups to go sailing, arranging speaking engagements, and supporting a big, successful fundraising party! During our time in Southern Cali fornia, weve taken hundreds of people sailing, including many sixththrough eighth-grade students. With more than 36 presentations, we gure we reached a thousand people with our message, including hundreds of school children. VFP members sailed and motored their own boats alongside the Golden Rule, boosting a message of peace in The Navy salutes the Golden Rule during Fleet Week, October 14, 2017, San Diego. CHRIS STONE OF THE TIMES OF SAN DIEGO Update continued on page 23
6 Veterans For Peace Newsletter Poor Peoples Campaign reignites the movement started in 1968 by Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who was commencing 40 days of action just before an assassins bullet snatched his life on April 4, 1968. Fifty years later, on Monday, May 14, 2018, the Poor Peoples Campaign kicked o 40 days of action with a rally on the Mall in Washington, D.C. Coordinated events including rallies, educational forums, nonviolent trainings, and civil disobedi ence actions, continued across the nation through June 23. e Institute for Policy Studies 2017 report, e Souls of Poor Folk: Auditing America 50 years after the Poor Peoples Campaign challenged racism, poverty, the war economy/militarism, and our national morality, demonstrates that structural issuessystemic racism, poverty, the war economy and militarism, and ecological devastationcontribute more to poverty than individual failures. e report makes a clear case that the richest nation in the world has sucient resources to protect the environment and ensure dignied lives for all its people. Last year, the U.S. spent more than $700 billion on the Pentagon and its programs. More than $300 billion of that went to weapons manufacturers and war proteers. War steals from all of us. Remember those famous words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on pro grams of social uplift is approaching spir itual death. He recognized that we cant solve problems until there is a radical redistribution of economic and political power. e Poor Peoples Campaign sees this as the moral challenge for America, and is intent on achieving nothing less than the revolution of values called for by King. C hicago Chapter 26 Deputy Coordi nator Natasha Erskine is on the Illi nois Poor Peoples Campaign leadership team, and was instrumental in organiz ing a Memorial Day action in Springeld that featured veterans and families of veterans. Chicago VFP members spoke, helped with refreshments, escorted families to the governors oce, and took part in blocking several intersections in Springeld. At the last intersection, blockers all took a knee while singing the National Anthem. Natasha also united VFP and PPC in organizing a Chicago conference, themed Everybodys Got the Right to Live, with Chapter 26 member Dr. Dennis Kohen leading a discussion of Martin Luther King Jr.s vision and how it ties into todays needs. E llen Bareld, a veteran with the Phil Berrigan Memorial Chapter 105 in Baltimore, was asked early on to join the Maryland Poor Peoples Campaign, and spoke at the Maryland kicko event on Monday, February 5, at the Delegates Oce Building in Annapolis. She also spoke at an evening rally at a church in Westminster, Maryland, on Tuesday, April 24, and at the War Economy rally on Tuesday, May 29, in Annapolis, where she was one of six arrested during that days civil disobedience action. C alling themselves the Smedley D. Butler Brigade, the Boston chapters mantra, War is a Racket: A Few Prof itthe Many Pay, would hardly permit anything but full-on engagement with the Poor Peoples Campaign, especially during week three, when the focus was on the war economy. Remembering the post-WWI Bonus March in D.C. and Tent Cities of the past, the Boston chapter purchased 40 identical tents and, on Memorial Day, set up an encampment on Boston Com mon replete with ags, banners, and a day-long program of music and speakers on all manner of war-related topics. Mid-afternoon, members marched to the Soldiers and Sailors Monument situated on the high ground of the common for a brief, solemn ceremony made more poignant by some 37,000-plus U.S. ags Taken the evening of Memorial Day, this photo captures the Boston Chapters Poor Peoples encampment, with the State House up the hill visible in the background, and campers circled up for discussion amidst the tents, getting to stay overnight. e Poor Peoples Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival Throughout Americas history from abolition, to womens suffrage, to labor and civil rightsreal social change has come when impact ed people have joined hands with allies of good will to stand together against injustice. These movements did not simply stand against partisan foes. They stood for the deep moral center of our Constitutional and faith traditions. Those deep wells sustained poor and impacted people who knew in their bones both that and that, in the end, love is the greatest Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, Co-Chair of the Poor Peoples Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival A National Call
Summer 2018 7 planted on the lawn below, symbolizing Massachusetts war dead. at evening, about 25 campers deed police orders to leave and, together with a few home less folks, some of whom were veterans, stayed put. As Boston Chapter Coor dinator Dan Luker said, Whos going to arrest a bunch of vets sleeping here overnight on Memorial Day? e next day was a dierent story. After a spirited, early afternoon rally at the State House, campaigners marched to each of the oces of Massachusetts House speaker, Senate president, and Governor, and presented a list of eight demands for cutting state spending on war. Also presented was a U.S. ag on which inscribed with names of dozens of recent victims of war, drugs, suicide, and police violence. e governor had made himself scarce, so 18 people sat down in front of his oce to wait, and after the State House closed, the State Police be gan making arrests. e rst to be taken away was Dan Luker, looking very smart in full camo and combat vet hat. P oor Peoples Campaign actions in Minnesota were generally held Mon days on the steps of Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul. e third weeks co ordinated actions focused on militarism and the need to create a peace economy that values all of humanity. e main event was on Tuesday, May 29, the day after Memorial Day, and that afternoon, Chapter 27 members entered the State Capitol building and hung VFP banners on the railing overlooking the rotunda, then met up with PPC activists to create a banner representing their collective vi sion of the world they would like to see. At 5:00 p.m., a rally commenced where representatives of various local peace-oriented organizations spoke, in cluding the anti-gun violence group, Stu dents Demand Action. Chapter 27 was represented by its V.P., Mike McDonald. Shortly after the rally began, the banner created inside the Capitol was brought forward and laid in front of the podium. After the program, VFP member Barry Riesch got up and made an impassioned appeal to save the VA from privatization, then invited people to follow Mendota Mdewakanton tribe members in a march encircling the VA building, where a soft rain accompanied their Native American purication ceremony. C hapter 102 members in Milwaukee chose the Wisconsin Poor Peoples Campaign as one of their three priority projects for 2018, and actively participat ed in the campaigns rst 40 days of ac tion. Mark Foreman volunteered to chair the states PPC committee on militarism, emphasizing its negative impacts on human needs, and he spoke at meetings and rallies in Milwaukee and Madison as a representative of military veterans who support the cause. Two Milwaukee chap ter members also attended the massive June 23rd rally in Washington, D.C. A t the May 14th PPC Rally in Mont pelier, Vermont, Richard Czaplinski, President of Will Miller Green Mountain VFP Chapter 57, brought attention to the distorted 2019 U.S. Budget, then read his poem, penned for the occasion: I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a thingoriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, considered more important than peo ple, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism and militarism are incapable A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., from his Riverside Church address of April 4, 1967 Chicago VFP Deputy Coordinator Natasha Erskine led a contingent from Chicago to the Poor Peoples Campaign action in Washington, D.C., where the crowd appreciated the strong presence of the youth decrying gun violence in their own city. for Moral Revival WAR AND PEACE e world can no longer aord war e costs are too great Veterans killed Veterans wounded Civilians killed Civilians wounded Communities destroyed Land, forests, air and water polluted or destroyed Little or no money to care for the wounded No money to rebuild destroyed communities No money to restore the land, forests, air and water War makes us all, every one of us, poor people ere is no alternative We must foster peace every day In every way Learn to be at peace within yourself Foster peace in your family In your community In your nation In the world PPC continued on page 8
8 Veterans For Peace Newsletter M embers of Los Angeles Veterans For Peace Chapter 7 traveled north to Sacramento, their states capital, to take part in the California PPCs 40 days of action. One of the veterans in that contingent, Antonio Palacios, says he waited many years to give the speech he gave in Sacramento on Tuesday, May 29, in Week ree of the Poor Peoples Campaign: Militarism and e War Econ omy. Here is what Antonio said that day: Hello. I am Antonio Palacios. Im a member of Veterans For Peace and I am proud to stand with the Poor Peoples Campaign. It was still my rst year in the military, in 2002; I was working in the personnel department onboard the USS Trenton. We were on deployment in the Indian Ocean; part of the war in Afghan istan, Operation Enduring Freedom. President Bush was already working to deemphasize Afghanistan to target Iraq. In the oce that I worked in, a televi sion played the Armed Forces Network, or AFN. You can think of it like most 24-hour cable news networks, but this one is produced by the military and also played old sitcoms where the commer cials are military propaganda. One day, sometime between the news and Sein feld, AFN played a macabre music video montage of recent bombings in Afghan istan. Some of the clips were daytime shots, others infrared or night-vision. e action was set to music from the Barber of Seville. (singing) La lala la lala LA La! e punctuations in the music were timed with an explosion on vid eo. ey were fast clips of buildings or cars or shacks hit by rockets. I couldnt help but think of the people in those buildings and how those shacks were peoples homes. One clip after the next. In one, I saw people. Two men in their last moments of life eeing the targeted building. at night I wrote an email home to my family expressing how horried I was by what I had seen. I wondered if those men were also 21 years old like me. I wondered what they could have possibly done. I wondered how they got there. I knew how I found myself there. I swore in to the Navy ve weeks before 9/11. I joined because I was a good stu dent and needed money to nish college. In spite of being gay in the seventh year of Dont Ask Dont Tell, I knew from constant advertising that the military would cover my degree. I only had to hide who I was for four years. Working in personnel, I got to learn about how a lot of us got there. e engineering petty ocer who enlisted to get his sick mother health insurance. My supervisor, who joined because a judge said it was the military or prison. A ju nior sailor born in Nigeria joined hoping for a chance to stay in the U.S. Another sailor from a struggling Wisconsin town just needed a job. e war economy is immoral. It robs our communities of basic needs. And then uses that need as economic coercion to enlist our bodies in imperial violence. In the wealthiest country to ever exist, no person should have to pledge alle giance to the military industrial complex just to receive something as basic as healthcare for their family or a college education. So many of us were there because so much of what appears to be broken in our system works to drive poor people into it. ere I was, a brown person from a lower-middle-class family, part of an organization that would kill other poor brown people. And then set it to music. Ill never forget it. And thats why I have joined the Poor Peoples Cam paign: To call for an end to U.S. military aggression currently targeting Iran and North Korea and providing a blank check to Israel and Saudi Arabia, and to demand re-allocation of resources from the military budget to education, health care, and green jobs. ank you! T his Poor Peoples Campaign Update would not be complete without a word from North Carolina Triangle Chapter 157. Associate member Vicki Ryder reported on the March 29th rally in Raleigh at which Bishop William Barber II gave a stirring speech, followed by a powerful speech by VFP member Ken Jones at the conclusion of the hourlong rally, and chapter president Doug Ryder got arrested in a sit-in with at Poor Peoples Campaign continued Veteran Antonio Palacios speaks in Sacramento about the madness and immorality of war. PPC continued on page 25
Summer 2018 9 broad-based, disciplined peoples move ment that can counter the many traves ties of the Trump regime. Je Brummer #016 Washington, DC Some chapter members went to several of the Poor Peoples Campaign Monday rallies at the U.S. Capitol. We also helped with the Memorial Day weekend actionsthe Swords to Plow shares Bell Tower, Letters to e Wall, and a remembrance ceremony at the Korean War Veterans Memorial. A few chapter members were joined by a dozen other VFP members at the Poor Peoples Campaign rally Saturday, June 23, in Washington, D.C. Mike Marceau Veterans For Peace Chapter Reports #001 Portland, ME e Tom Sturtevant Chapter has been active these past few months: tion against gun violence. We proudly displayed the Abolish Assault Weapons VFP banner at the March 14th demon stration in Portland, and six of our members served as monitors during the march. Chapter V.P. Richard Clement met with state senator Sheena Bellows to discuss gun control legislation. Tremblay as he ventured to Russia to attend the March for the WWII Immor tal Regiment, and to meet with Russian peace activists and collect interviews for his new lm, Who Are ese Russians? in the Memorial Day parade. Peace Fair and at the Common Ground Fair in the fall (60,000 attendees). Ann Ross House of Hope, for female veterans and their children who are homeless or in need of help. traveling exhibit in September. to thwart LD1781, the Bath Iron Works tax exemption bill that gave away mil lions in state tax dollars to build General Dynamics battleships. veteran students and the Maine Conser vation Voters to expand our outreach. classrooms when invited. Doug Rawlings #009 Eastern MA e Smedley Butler Brigade has been very busy these past few months con ducting standouts, seminars, and various other protest activities dealing with VA privatization, Middle East wars, and peace for Korea. But of late, our primary focus has been the Poor Peoples Cam paign and its potential for building a #023 Rochester, NY On March 16, Chapter 23 sponsored a Memorial Commemoration on the 50th Anniversary of the My Lai Massacre at the Federal Building and Courthouse in Rochester with featured speaker Rev. Dr. Marvin A. McMickle, President of Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School. anks to Jack Spula, we had a small but visible presence at the 5,000-strong March For Our Lives rally and march in Rochester on March 24. Spring Action 2018 drew active chap ter participation. President Rev. James L. Swarts spoke at a press conference on VFPs call for all nations to lay down weapons and study war no more. On May 14, we hosted a public showing of the documentary Lighter an Orange, followed by a panel dis cussion with Dr. Rebecca Drayer from the VA, Jerry McDermott from VVA, and Rev. Michael Stuart from VFP. Both Jerry and Michael discussed their dis abilities as a result of exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam. On May 26, chapter members joined with members of VFW Post 16, Greece, New York, for a memorial service at the USS Liberty Memorial in Rochester. Chapter members were present at four Memorial Day events: a Peace Me morial Service; the Rochester Memorial Day Parade; services at the Rochester Vietnam Memorial; and Brighton Town Veterans Memorial. James L. Swarts #026 Chicago, IL Focusing on the Chapter theme, Education Not Militarization, Chicago Chapter 26 is active on many fronts local, state, and national: Our main project is the de-militariza tion of Chicago Public Schoolsthe most militarized in the nation, with 10,000 youth in some form of military The USS Liberty was attacked in international waters by Israeli Navy and Air Force boats and planes on June 8, 1967, during the Six Days War. In the combined air and sea at tack, 34 crew members were killed, and 171 wounded. The attack on the USS Liberty re mains controversial (and contentious) to this day. But on June 12, 2010, a memorial was dedicated to the USS Liberty in Rochester, NY, thanks to one of the USS Liberty crewmen, John Hrankowski of Rochester, who spent the USS Liberty in the news, and to remember VFP Chapter 23 participated in the USS Liberty Memorial Service conducted by VFW Thomas Healy Post 16. The memorial is located in Ontario Beach Park near the Genesee River. Chapter Reports continued on next page
10 Veterans For Peace Newsletter training. Via outreach, collaboration, and action, we are bringing the epidemic of militarization into the public eye. One tactic is to speak at school board meet ings. Due to the eorts of chapter mem ber Libby Frank, Chicago will be the site of a national conference on removing the military from schools. See one of our talks, edited and titled by chapter member Kevin Merwin, at: youtu.be/ oP5VjNJrInA. Chapter 26 Deputy Coordinator Natasha Erskine is on the Poor Peoples Campaign leadership team for Illinois. [Read more about this statewide educa tional eort on page 6.] Our national outreach and educa tion eorts are focused on the barbarity of war, as Chicago VFP member Mac MacDevitt continues to tour the nation with an interactive display of the massa cre that occurred in the village of My Lai during the U.S. war against the people of Vietnam. For more information visit: http://mylaimemorial.org. Chicago VFP maintains two websites, ChicagoVFP.org and EducationNotMil itarization.org. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook @DeMilitarizeCPS, and on Facebook @ChicagoVFP. Arny Stieber #027 Twin Cities, MN e Twin Cities Chapter has been extremely busy in the last couple of months. We co-sponsored a Walk for Hope and Peace in May, with Kyong Juhn, a Korean-American photographer who walked 330 miles from Roches ter, New York, to Bemidji, Minnesota. She was commemorating the walk her mother took from North to South Korea back in 1953. We walked beside her and followed her with our peace bus. She is one brave woman, and we were proud to be part of her journey. We had a very solemn gathering at the Minnesota Vietnam Memorial on Memorial Day. Complete with Native American drumming, poetry, and per sonal stories of lost loved ones, the day was empowering. We are continuing to support mem bers of our group in their court battles over protesting. We teamed up with the Poor Peoples Campaign on May 29 at the State Cap itol, to shine a light once again on this countrys obsession with militarism. We are very much looking forward to hosting the convention, August 22. Mike McDonald #034 New York City Chapter 34 members have been ac tively ensuring a VFP presence at major and minor rallies and demos throughout the city. Jerry Hassett and others are everywhere with VFP ags. On April 4, we commemorated 50 years since the assassination of MLK by reading his speech, Beyond Vietnam: Breaking the Silence, on the steps of the public library, and distributing yers on the relevance of his words today. On May 27, people respectfully watched our Memorial Day funeral procession wind its way around Battery Park, with bagpiper, ag-draped con, and mourners from VFP, VVAW, Granny Peace Brigade, and War Resisters League. e procession was led by Dr. ao, Director of the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City. In March, chapter president Susan Schnall was the Ameri can speaker at the opening of the Waging Peace exhibit at that museum. Susan also was the opening plenary speaker at the Voices of Conscience conference at Notre Dame. Chapter projects include: Stop ping VA Privatization (Skip Delano in conjunction with the National Nurses Union); Move the Money, to demand open hearings by NYC Council to move resources from the Pentagon to health and education (Joe Jamison and Tom Gogan); and the Agent Orange Cam paign. On June 20, JJ Johnson of the Fort Hood ree shared his inspiring story of resistance to military orders to Vietnam in 1966, which resulted in a two-year prison sentence at Leavenworth. Bob Keilbach #035 Spokane, WA Chapter 35 participated in the Mar tin Luther King Jr. March and the Wom ens March through downtown Spokane. VFP Chapter Reports continued Chapter 27 members on a road trip with their mobile Peace Center, accompanying photographer Kyong Juhn on her Walk for Hope and Peace, from Rochester, NY to Bemidji, MN. From L to R: Mary Frutiger, Barry Riesch, Craig Wood, Penny Gardner, Mike McDonald, Kyong Juhn, Dave Logsdon, and Steve McKeown. Chapter 026, Chicago, IL, continued
Summer 2018 11 With the Arab Cultural Society at Spokane Community College, we hosted Ramzy Baroud, author of e Last Earth: A Palestinian Story. When the Chicago chapters My Lai Exhibit came to Spokanes Downtown Public Library this spring, an interview of Mac MacDevitt and Tom Charles aired on KYRS Radio. A recording of our panel event, e Vietnam Experience, features the voices of Mac, Rusty Nelson, and Mike Hastie, who displayed 35 photos from his March 2018 Vietnam visit. Chapter 35s new oce is in the Niche Coworking space on West Main Ave. We joined Greater Spokane Prog ress, 40 organizations promoting pro gressive goals/values. And, we are now an aliate chapter of World Beyond War. Four resolutions we are moving forward: creating Nuclear Free Zone for August 6 Hiroshima Commemoration; getting Truth in Recruitment materials to students; separating Armed Forces Torchlight Parade from Lilac Festival; and testing regional air quality for pol luting elements. Members are working with Sinixt Tribal Member Lou Stone in Kettle Falls to establish a new VFP chapter on the reservation. Members attended the Report Back Rally from week three of the Poor Peo ples Campaign, held at the Gathering Place next to City Hall. Hollis Higgins #041 Cape Cod, MA e Cape Cod Chapters 23rd Annual Voices of Peace Poetry Contest con cluded on April 28 with a reading of the 65 award-winning poems out of a total 698 submitted from 26 schools, with 54 teachers participating. As is tradition, one young poet marched with us in the Barnstable Memorial Day Parade and read her winning poem during the days ceremonies (see photo on front page). A draft proposal for our chapters Hidden Wounds Memorial Project to establish a tangible and permanent memorial to those vets who suer from hidden wounds of PTS and who die by suicidewas released in January. An ex citing project with potential for powerful public education and veteran advocacy, it has been shared with the local Veterans Service Oce, representatives of several local veterans service organizations, and a Barnstable Town Councilor. With an eye toward developing public awareness of the project heading into Armistice/ Veterans Day, we are now considering starting with a moveable memorial as we seek wider support for a permanent one. Chapter 43 continues to support local suicide-prevention and gun-violence-re duction eorts. We press for on-schedule closing of the unsafe Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station despite Trump Admin istration obstruction. Finally, we are considering a town councilors proposal for establishing a Massachusetts Vet erans Corps that would help vets with entrepreneurial and business training and support. Duke Ellis #047 Western PA Chapter 47 has been steadily grow ing in membership. Within two years, weve gone from just a few members to seventeen. Our recent activities include: speaking events to inform the public about Veterans For Peace; a very suc cessful fundraiser; rallying with the local AFGE union to protest VA privatiza tion; and marching in the Peoples Pride Parade in Pittsburgh. We are actively promoting and main taining a campaign called Stop Banking the Bomb, started by chapter member Paul Dordal to pressure PNC bank to stop loaning money to nuclear weapons manufacturers. Information about this campaign can be found at: www.stop bankingthebomb.org. Our members also have endorsed and participated with other activist groups in furthering the Deadly Exchange cam paign started by Jewish Voice for Peace, which seeks to end the exchange of dis criminatory and repressive tactics shared between our police, soldiers, and border agents, with those in Israel. To nd more information about this campaign, go to: www.deadlyexchange.org. As we continue growing our member ship, we are excited to see what we can accomplish in the coming months. Jessie Medvan Members of New York City Chapter 34 pause for a group shot. Front (L to R): Tracy Gross, Susan Schnall, JJ Johnson, Georgia Wever, Jerry Hassett. Back: Per Odman, Skip Delano, Bob Carpenter, Bob Keilbach, Bob Carpenter. Chapter Reports continued on next page
12 Veterans For Peace Newsletter #062 New Hampshire e A. J. Muste Chapter participated (albeit reluctantly) in New Hampshires biggest Memorial Day Parade, and received a positive response for the most part. Chapter 62 participated in the New Hampshire Poor Peoples Campaign, where Will omas was one of eight arrested for civil disobedience and was tried along with the other seven on July 6, 2018, in Concord. New Hampshire VFP has participat ed in many Interfaith Prayer Vigils for Migrant Justice. We do a Jericho Walk around the federal building in Manches ter, where migrants must go to report at ICE oces. We have heard the stories of men and women who have been deport ed and separated from their children. Gut-wrenching. We are happy to report that the Bishop of Manchester, New Hampshire, Catholic Diocese has agreed to instruct all of the parishes in the city to ring their church bells on November 11, 2018, to help reclaim Armistice Day. More over, the New Hampshire Council of Churches has agreed to encourage all of the states churches to ring their bells and inform the laity of VFPs message. Will omas #063 Albuquerque, NM Donald ompson, Veteran of WWII and Korea, founder of the Albuquerque Chapter, and former member of the National Board of Directors of Veterans For Peace, is at rest. In December his ashes were strewn in the Pacic from VFPs Golden Rule. Our chapter has continued to table and spread the word of peace at Memo rial Day, Earth Day, and other public events. We have, and continue to have, demonstrations against privatization of the VA. We sent letters to our Congres sional delegation protesting Israeli killing of unarmed Palestinians. We were able to get an appointment with a sta person in Senator Udalls oce to present our position. Several of our members have attended the Poor Peoples Campaign events in Santa Fe, and Monique Salhab delivered an eloquent address representing the VFP point of view. Sally-Alice ompson #069 San Francisco, CA One hundred years ago, the largest parades in San Francisco were marching soldiers and sailors whod served during e Great War. ose parades have been eclipsed in length and spectators by the annual Pride Parade. As a fundraiser, San Francisco VFP Chapter 69 manages the Pride Parade Grand Stand. is long row of bleachers lines Market Street by Unit ed Nations Plaza and costs forty dollars a fanny to enjoy. Chapter 69s job is not an easy one, but its interesting and almost fun. We arrive early to set up rows of folding chairs, we manage the gate into the Grand Stand area, we monitor the special portable toilets for Grand Stand patrons, and we sell water, sunglasses, sunscreen, and trinkets. e parade be gins with Dikes On Bikes. Hundreds of motorcycles roll up Market Street with a deafening rumble followed by over two hundred contingents including Wells Fargo, Walt Disney, Twitter, Safeway, PayPal, Mormons for Equality, IKEA, Google, Everyone Loves a Corgi, Bud dhist Church of San Francisco, Apple, Airbnb, 7-Eleven, and local politicians in vintage convertibles. Who wouldnt want to watch a four-hour parade like that? My take-away from the day is, most of us look better with clothes on. Denny Riley #071 Sonoma Co., CA Chapter 71 participated in the national Anti-War March and Rally in Oakland, on April 15, with other S.F. Bay Area VFP Chapters and a variety of other peace and justice organizations. VFP Board President Gerry Condon delivered a powerful speech to a crowd of several hundred. It was inspiring to ex perience the profound sense of solidarity that permeated this widely diverse group. Our primary focus has been on the No VA Privatization movement, largely due to the herculean eorts of Buzz Davis. We meet at the VA Outpatient Clinic in Santa Rosa to distribute yers designed by Suzanne Gordon, author of e Battle for Veterans Healthcare. Re sponses from both VA patients and sta have been very positive, but there is dis appointingly little interest from the other local veterans groups, even though they say they are against VA privatization. Chapter co-founder Fred Ptucha, a member of Climbers for Peace (CFP), leaves June 29 for a Peace Climb of Damavand, an 18,600 ft. volcano in Iran considered sacred to the Persian people. Members of CFP will join with the Iranian Mountaineering Federation to inspire people to work in harmony to wards world peace. e hope is to reduce the tensions between America and Iran and help to avoid another tragic war in the Middle East. Bill Simon VFP Chapter Reports continued The New Hampshire Chapters Will Thomas, a walking billboard for migrant justice.
Summer 2018 13 #087 Sacramento, CA Chapter 87 has been supporting the Poor Peoples Campaign here in Cali fornias Capitol. Many of our members have attended the various weekly events, especially the week that focused on the military, when one of our members was among those arrested for civil disobedi ence actions. We continue our long-standing, weekly Peace Vigil near the state Capitol, reminding commuters that the wars are not over and that the military budget is killing us. One of our members is very active with the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) and their green hat legal ob servers eort, in which NLG members attend rallies and protests to monitor police actions and let attendees know their rights. We continue to support Palestinian rights rallies and Black Lives Matter events, ying VFP banners whenever we can. John C. Reiger #090 Broome Co., NY On Mothers Day week end, Chapter 90 held a community gathering at Christ Epis copal Church, turning away from the commercial holiday to honor the true meaning of Mothers DayWorld Peace. Julia Ward Howes 1870 Declaration was wonderfully brought back to life by Binghamton actor Judy McMahon, and a lively discussion followed. e second reading, by Jim Clune, was Mark Twains War Prayer. Always a mind-turner, the prayer produced a discussion about the ready willingness of religious leaders to dash their moral code when war calls. On June 1, Jack Gilroy led a work shop at Roberson Museum in Bingham ton, in concert with a display of original propaganda posters from the Great War. In the brightly light exhibit hall, attendees discussed propagandathen and now. WWI propaganda music was played to set the tone for the discussion: Following the anti-war song, I Didnt Raise my Boy to be a Soldier, came prowar tunes such as Pack Up your trou bles in an old kit bag and smile, smile, smile, and Over ere (the Yanks are coming), whichto illustrate the pow erful inuence of music to urge young men to killstarts o, Johnny, get your gun, get your gun, get your gun. We are grateful to the Roberson Museum for the opportunity to discuss the use of disin formation, exaggerations, and outright lies to promote economic-military goals. Jack Gilroy #091 San Diego, CA Chapter 91 has had a very active 2018 so far. e year started with member Stan Levin, a Korean War veteran, being honored in the San Diego Union-Tribune a large, front-page article under Making A Dierence for his work giving out sleeping bags to homeless in San Diego. Chapter members and friends walked in the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade, and later in two separate March For Our Lives demonstrations in support of the students at Parkland, Florida. e chapter hosted a four-day My Mai Remembrance event on the 50th anniversary of the massacre, which was well attended and got good TV coverage. We thank Chicago VFP for bringing their great exhibit to San Diego. e chapter set up Hometown Arlington West on Memorial Day, and has been speaking to local churches and political clubs about VFP and encourag ing folks to join us. In June, chapter members traveled to Tijuana in support of the new VFP chapter there, and enjoyed BBQ and camaraderie wth the deported veterans. As summer begins, we are starting our third season educating the public on the many downsides of the annual Septem ber Miramar Air Show here, asking the public to stay home, and may be pur chasing billboard space on local freeways. Gilbert E. Field #092 Seattle, WA We held a rally at the VA Hospital to protest privatization, organized with AFGE. We received a lot of honks from motorists in response to our Save Our Chapter Reports continued on next page The traveling My Lai Exhibit received a warm welcome from San Diegans in March, including many members of Chapter 91. Pictured, L to R: Back rowHelen Jaccard (Golden Rule), Jack Doxey, Mac MacDevitt (Chicago Chapter member, My Lai exhibit artist), Ed Fox.
14 Veterans For Peace Newsletter VA banner. Rep. Pramila Jayapal graciously met with us on May Day, before the march. She consistently demonstrates she is as progressive with foreign policy issues as with domestic issues, and is outspoken against this war economy. Furthermore, she co-sponsored Rep. Ted Lieus bill, which prohibits the president from ordering a rst use of nuclear weapons unless Congress declares war. She appre ciates our support of her positions in this region close to Bangor Trident Base. Our contingent of ten ew VFP ags in Olympia for Washington Poor Peoples Campaign. A series of speakers included Chapter 92 President Dan Gilman, who spoke against the wasteful and unjust U.S. war economy. He spoke about how we cannot be silent, as Mar tin Luther King, Jr. said in his Beyond Vietnam speech, when it comes to U.S. wars and militarism. With this campaign we have a great opportunity to get out our message about war and militarism and how they are related to the other two evils he spoke about, racism and poverty. Kim Loftness #093 South Central MI Chapter members joined with Detroit Metro VFP Chapter 74 to set up and sta Arlington Michigan in Grand Cir cus Park, Detroit, as a Memorial Day ob servance. e display garnered local TV coverage and lively foot trac, thanks in part to a Detroit Tigers game nearby. In its rst recent truth-in-recruiting eort, the chapter tabled at the city wide College Night, March 22, in Ann Arbor, where military recruiters had tables alongside dozens of colleges.rResponse was favorable from families and school personnel. Chapter 93 plans to extend this eort to nearby Ypsilanti, where the poverty draft is likely a bigger factor in student decisions. Our chapter tabled at the annual Earth Day festival in Ann Arbor, inviting children to color the owers on the classic War is Not Healthy for Children and Other Living ings graphic while chapter members chatted with parents. In July, Chapter 93 will have a booth at the annual Ann Arbor Art Fairs, which draw thousands to the area.rIn October, we will host the traveling display com memorating the 50th anniversary of the My Lai Massacre, and present the annual John Lennon Concert to benet our Peace Scholarship program. Lynn Gilbert #097 Kansas City, MO e week-long annual Unitarian Universalist (UU) General Assembly (GA) was held in Kansas City in late June; with over 4,000 attendees from the U.S. and abroad. As a faith community, UUs tend to be fairly liberal and active in many forms of social justice, but many were not familiar with the work of VFP. Veterans For Peace had a booth at the UUGA Exhibit Hall arranged and staed by Ed Vail, a UU and VFP member at large, Kansas City Chapter President Sara Campbell, and various other members of the chapter. Many of the booths steady stream of visitors sat down and had in-depth con versations with our members. Virtually all visitors, if they were not veterans, had relatives or friends who were. ey VFP Chapter Reports continued Left to right: Keith Orchard, Dan Gilman, Mike Dedrick, Albert Penta, Allen Tlusty, Ed Brighton, Rep. Jayapal, Will Alleckson, Kim Loftness, & Charles Davis Photo: Raman Khanna, Constituent Services & Outreach Coordinator for Rep. Jayapal Sara Campbell and Ed Vail listen to stories of fellow veterans attending the UU General Assembly in Kansas City. Chapter 092, Seattle, WA, continued
Summer 2018 15 learned about the wide range of VFPs work, from educating about the true costs of war to helping vets heal moral injuries. Printed materials on oer from both National and the KC Chapter en abled visitors to get a good sense of the scope of VFP activities, and to connect with VFP chapters in their own locale. e Kansas City Chapter plans to have a Reclaim Armistice Day table at the National WWI Memorial in Kansas City on November 11th. Sara Campbell #099 Asheville / Western North Carolina With the goal of raising public aware ness about VFP and our purpose, we be gan 2018 with a January retreat focused on developing ideas and plans for actions and projects, scheduling them through out the year. In May, the chapter held a well-attended public ceremony based on Julia Ward Howes Mothers Day Proclamation for Peace, rst ocially read in 1870. In observance of Memorial Day, we marched for the rst time in the annual Brevard, North Carolina, parade on Saturday, and on Monday we held our traditional wreath-laying ceremony at the Western North Carolina Veterans Memorial. In addition to these events, a Save Our VA standout held at Charles George VA Medical Center resulted in media coverage and an increase in our membership. So far this year, our chapter has been represented in a number of events: Poor Peoples Campaign rally in Raleigh; March For Our Lives rally and march in Asheville; and Hunger for Nuclear Disar mament fast at the Naval Submarine Base in Kings Bay, Ga., among others. For the most current and complete coverage of our chapter events, activities, and published materials, we invite you to visit us on Facebook, at Veterans For Peace Chapter 099, and/or at our web site: vfp099.org. Gerry Werhan #101 South Bay / Peninsula, CA In March, Chapter 101 members spoke at Social Justice Day: e Challenge of Peace, at Sacred Heart Prep in Atherton. Addressing sever al classes, members explained how VFP works toward a goal of a peaceful world. Also in March, chapters members displayed the Save our VA banner at the San Jose, California, Vietnam War memorial immediately after an observance ceremony to hon or San Jose residents who died in the Vietnam War. As our members moved through the crowd passing out literature to those present, explaining the pending eort to privatize the VA, most veterans we spoke to supported the concept of saving the VA from privatization. In April, VFP 101 members Doug Nelson and Harry Adams read original poetry at the King Library in San Jose. Part of National Poetry Month, the reading included poetry by both civilians and former soldiers in commemoration of the 43rd Anniversary of the Fall of Saigon. In May, with the Womans Interna tional League for Peace and Freedom, we co-sponsored a Poor Peoples Campaign dinner, at which our members helped provide and serve food to homeless veter ans and civilians. e event started with a song of unity by e Raging Grannies and ended with a bountiful meal. Phil Pager #102 Milwaukee, WI e Milwaukee Chapter has formed working groups on each of our three priority programs for 2018the Poor Peoples Campaign, combatting Islam ophobia, and abolishing nuclear weapons and the threat of nuclear war. We are planning an Armistice Day observance that includes speakers on each of those issues. We have seen a resurgence of interest this year, with some new members and increased meeting attendance, and con tinue outreach to build on that enthusi asm. In June, we staed literature tables at a community festival and a renewable energy fair that drew 13,000 visitors. We are working with student veterans at University of WisconsinMilwaukee to build a presence there and perhaps start a new VFP chapter. An April benet concert with folk musician-activist Tom Neilson drew a Chapter Reports continued on next page Chapter 99 members say NO to VA Privatization. Left to right: Gerald Harbinson, Bob Houde, Bruce Macdonald. Chapter 101 members Doug Nelson, Brady Williams, and Harry Adams serve dinner on Memorial Day at Grace Baptist Overnight Shelter in downtown San Jose, California.
16 Veterans For Peace Newsletter good crowd, raised money, and gave us some public exposure. We have already chosen a date for his return next spring. We are cooperating with the Milwaukee Muslim Womens Coali tion to coordinate anti-Islamophobia eorts. Paul Moriarity, an Army veteran who served in Bosnia, was elected chapter president, a post he had held several years ago. Mark Fore man stepped down as president but remains as treasurer. Bill Christoerson #104 Evansville, IN As a result of our December fund raiser, Lennon Night, an annual benet for VFPs Iraq Water Project, we sent $2,127 to IWP in January. We thank Larry Miller, our chapter co-founder, for spearheading this music/ poetry event once again, allowing us to continue our commitment to re-estab lishing potable water in Iraq. Chapter members participated locally in an anti-gun violence vigil in February. On March 24, a number of our mem bers braved the wet, cold, windy day to march against gun violence. Our First Annual Peace on Earth Day spaghetti dinner/auction fundraiser on April 20 was a huge success, raising al most $3,400 that will allow our chapter to bring in special programs and speakers this year. Plus, we donated $100 to Na tional, with a challenge to other chapters to do the same. If each does, this could provide a nice boost to our hardworking, underfunded national sta. On May 9, we had our usual spring cookout at the Evansville VA clinic, with another cookout the following day at the Owensboro, Kentucky, clinic. Free food was provided the clinic sta plus patients and their families, as our thank-you for their service. Caroline Nellis #105 Baltimore, MD Baltimore Phil Berrigan Me morial VFP, with a whole slew of other local schools, arts organiza tions, churches, and peace groups, coordinated a great series of events through May 2018 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the May 17, 1968, Catonsville 9 Vietnam-era draft-le burning action by chapter namesake Phil Berrigan and eight other Catholic activists whose radical actions were inspired by personal life experiences and guided by a gospel of love. Amy Goodman keynoted the symposium, and Col Ann Wright, Kathy Kelly, and surviving Catons ville 9 actionist Marjorie Melville spoke, among others. Vigils, march es, plays, church services, art exhibits, lm showings, civil resistance, even unveiling of an ocial Maryland Historical Marker marked a very exciting month. Check the website catonsville9. org for photos and historical info. e Baltimore Chapter is at a low ebb, having lost Vietnam-era veteran and underground GI news publisher Jim Baldridge to lung cancer in December 2017. But several new members came along in the Catonsville eort, so we hope to re-energize in the fall. Ellen Bareld VFP Chapter Reports continued Ch. 104 members braved the elements to participate in the March For Our Lives, March 24 on the Riverfront. The Baltimore Chapter sent in photos of the dedication ceremony for the Catonsville Nine Historical Marker erected in Catonsville, Chapter 102, Milwaukee, contd
Summer 2018 17 #106 Dallas, TX Since last reporting, Chapter 106 hosted: An Evening with Coleen Row ley: Americas Perpetual State of War; the 2018 Gaza Freedom Flotilla Fund raiser with Col. Ann Wright, with music by David Rovics, which raised several thousand dollars for the otilla; and an exhibition of the Drones Quilt Project at the Oak Cli Unitarian Universalist Church. In addition, we co-hosted: Dallas: Divest from the War Machine; Den ton Divestment Day; Dallas: Tell BlackRock to Stop Making a Killing on Killing; a protest of Rev. Robert Jeress hateful rhetoric; and demonstrations at Chases and ExxonMobils annual share holder meetings. With support from the Backbone Campaign, we projected in lights, NRA Enables Domestic Terror ists over the NRA National Conven tion banner on the Dallas Convention Center, an action that garnered local and national press. We attended Fighting to Protect Our Precious Resources with retired USAF Colonel Kim Olson; demonstrated for peace in Palestine, Korea, Syria, and Iran; and donated a family food basket for Society of Native Nations potluck and mini powwow. Leslie Harris was a delegate on VFPs incredibly memorable Vietnam 50th Anniversary Commemoration Peace Tour and reported back to the local community.r Chapter members visited Senator Cornyns oce twice to discuss U.S. global reach, endless wars, and specical ly North Korea and Yemen. Leslie Harris #112 Ventura Co., CA Veteran Michael Cervantes is assisting Truth in Recruitment of Santa Barbara County. He continues to be invited to the Oxnard Union High School Dis tricts career fair, at which all branches of the military are present. e chapter has had a wealth of pub lic tabling opportunities including at the MLK Jr. march and rally, the Womens Day event in January, the March for Our Lives rally in March, a junior college two-day festival on diversity of culture, Earth Day, and the Juneteenth Festival. We are getting those Peace In Our Times newspapers into the hands of many passersby. On June 5, Native American veteran Joe Asebedo presented public commentary to the city council in ou sand Oaks on their local handling of the immigration issue. Chapter members attended Oscar Lo pez Riveras Cal State University Channel Islands talk about his life and his support for the citizens of Puerto Rico. Member Cindy Piester arranged a screening of the lm Age of Consequences at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Ventura, in conjunction with the month ly meeting of Citizens for Peaceful Res olutions (CPR). e lm demonstrates the militarys knowledge of how climate change factors can aect relationships between nations. Eighth grade students from Oxnard took a resolution to the Oxnard City Council requesting the City of Oxnard become a nuclear free zone. Before their presentation, the students teacher had invited Chapter 112 and CPR to speak in her classroom. Michael Cervantes Chapter Reports continued on next page VFP Chapter 106 President Ron Unger shines a light cannon on the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center during the 2018 NRA National Convention in Dallas, Texas. Ventura County Chapter members attended Oscar Lopez Riveras Cal State University Channel Islands talk about his life and his support for the citizens of Puerto Rico.
18 Veterans For Peace Newsletter VFP Chapter Reports continued #114 Sheboygan, WI Greetings from the Badger States east coast. We missed a few issues, so Ill go back to December 2017. At the end of each year, our chapter donates 20 percent of our treasury to worthy projects. is past year we supported the VFP Agent Orange clean-up in Vietnam, as well as their land mine removal eort, shout out to Chapter 69! We also funded Vets Journey Home (vet retreats for PTSD), and Kathy Kellys Duvet Project, providing warm sleeping bags for chil dren in Afghan refugee camps. In March 2018, we hosted our 14th annual Concert for Peace and Justice to a full house. is is the longest running event of its kind in the Midwest, com bining entertainment with FYI spots addressing current issues. We got involved once again with the Global Project for Peace. Our resident artist, Bob Fleming, sent original pieces to Morocco and Arizona. Fourteen of us marched in the Memorial Day parade, including our favorite WWII vet, Marge Behlen, riding in a Model A Ford. Our signage focused on PTSD-related suicides, which we consider uncounted casualties of war. Finally, we look forward to meeting our brothers and sisters at the August VFP convention in St. Paul. Tom Contrestan #115 Red Wing, MN While we have been absent from this newsletter for a while, we have kept busy with our mission. We just presented the fourth annual Kellogg-Briand Schol arship award to a senior high school student, a competition in which partic ipants answered the question, How do we become a more peaceful people? We hosted Sami Rasouli, an Iraqi-American with the Muslim Peace maker Team, who gave us an important message of reconciliation. He invited any of us to come to his city, Najaf, Iraq, as guests, and said the Iraqis people are very welcoming to American visitors who want to learn about their culture and make new friends. We are presently preparing for the 16th annual Peacestock to be held July 14 in Red Wing, Minnesota, an event we coordinate along with Twin Cities Chap ter 27. is years theme is American Empire: Who Benets, Who Suers. Our speakers are Medea Benjamin from Code Pink and Chris Mato Nunpa, a Native American scholar/professor. More information at: peacestockvfp.org. William Habedank #160 Hanoi, Viet Nam is years Peace Tour of Vietnam, hosted by VFP Chapter 160 for the eighth consecutive year, was in some ways the most memorable. Our group of 40 participants observed some notable 50th anniversary events: the Tet Oen sive of 1968, the siege of Khe Sanh, the My Lai Massacre. On March 16, we joined with Vietnamese villagers to com memorate the slaying of 504 unarmed children, women, and old men at My Son. Mr. Pham anh Cong, a survivor whose entire family was killed that day, graciously invited us into his home. e forgiveness conveyed by Mr. Cong, and his invitation to join him in a deep commitment to peace, was a powerful moment. A letter signed by some 600 VFP members to the people of Vietnam expressed our sorrow and our respon sibility for what happened that terrible day. Our VFP tour group visited projects which help mitigate the suering caused by UXO and Agent Orange, and at the end of the tour our group donated $40,000 split among six of those proj ects. In Ho Chi Minh City, an informative exhibit of photos and text depicting GI anti-war resistance was capped by a can did dialogue between VFP tour members and Vietnamese veterans. A number of VFP members have expressed interest in another tour, so we will be informally polling convention attendees in St. Paul to see if there is enough interest to orga nize one more. A very nice Vietnamese-produced video features interviews of some of our After the My Lai commemoration, VFP Peace Tour participants walk to the home of Pham Thanh Cong for tea and conversation. At front, L to R: Chapter 160 tour leader Chuck Searcy, and Susans daughter Nina Schnall. Mr. Cong was 11 years old when his three sisters and mother were killed by a grenade thrown into their hooch during the 1968 My Lai Massacre. MIKE HASTIE
Summer 2018 19 tour group members, and may be viewed at https://youtu.be/gc3MPKXEKBc Chuck Searcy #161 Iowa City, IA We have been busy, but thus far have been unable to derail wars steamroller. Yemen has been heavy on our minds. In March, a bunch of us visited with local Congressman Dave Loebsack and urged him to support and sign onto House Congressional Resolution No. 81, which mandates an end to unauthorized U.S. military involvement in Yemen. He subsequently did sign that resolution. A similar bunch met with a staer of Senator Joni Ernst. No positive response, but she has said she wants Yemen to be debated in the Senate. Well see. We organized an all-day, community serial reading of Martin Luther King Jr.s Riverside and Memphis speeches on April 4. We tabled at a large Earth Day event, and participated in a large Gay Pride parade. June 15-17, at the Coralville Public Library, we hosted the My Lai Memorial Exhibit created by Mac Mac Devitt, which was excellent and very well received, provoking many conversations, tears, and stunned silence. We lead a Peace Rally every Friday in front of Old Capitol, and we look for ward to greeting 15,000-plus bike riders on July 28, as they go from Iowa City to the Mississippi River on the last leg of e Registers Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa. Ed Flaherty #162 East Bay, CA Chapter 162 members continue to support our regular activities: e Cross es of Lafayette twice yearly vigils; our monthly First Friday street fairs; and a continuing presence at the Berkeley City Council to monitor the militarization of local police. Several of our members were involved in planning and participated in a halfday conference, Stop the War Machine, Save the Planet! held on March 17 in the East Bay town of Orinda, California. A number of our members were in volved in supporting the Conscientious Objectors Day in Berkeley as well as the Poor Peoples Campaign in Sacramento. East Bay Chapter 162 is proud to congratulate two of our members who are now sitting on the National VFP Board: Maurice Martin and Marti Guy Downing. Note: If you want a VFP license plate frame, please send $10 w/ address to: Cathe Norman, 113 Rantoul Cir., San Leandro, CA 94577; ph. 925-858-9153. Cathe Norman #168 Louisville, KY Chapter 168 is proud to report that our local Veterans For Peace Radio Hour is now on the air at For ward Radio, 106.5 FM in Louisville. Hosted by volunteers from VFP 168, Radio Hour features commentary, analysis, and interviews in line with our mission to foster peace and bring an end to destructive militarism. So far we have recorded four episodes and two have been broadcast: Patrick Kings inaugu ralrepisode, Who We Are, and Harold Trainer hosting Costs of War. ese episodes are available for download via sound cloud.com/wfmp-forward-radiolook for the Veterans For Peace Playlist. We are eager to talk with other chapters interested in producing content for local radio about sharing content. We are gratefulrfor support from the Zinn Fund Grant for our Radio Hour project. We continue to hold our regular third Sunday vigil. I am sad to report the pass ing of VFP member and WWII veteran Tom Moett, a xture in the ght for peace and justice in Louisville. Steven Gardiner #1003 Ryukyu/ Okinawa Ch. Kokusai (ROCK) VFP-ROCK has been pretty busy. In December 2017 we hosted a delegation of VFP members focusing mainly on participating in the sit-in at Henoko. As usual, they were enthusiastically wel comed by the Okinawan sit-inners. In 2018, we drafted a formal letter, based on research by Makishi Yoshikazu, pointing out that the absence of clear zones at either end of the Futenma Base airstrip is in violation of U.S. military safety standards. We sent this to eleven U.S. government ocials, beginning with Secretary of Defense Mattis. A re vised version was published in the March 30, 2018 issue of e Diplomat. Following this, we wrote another letter pointing out that the new Marine base being built at Henoko will also be surrounded by buildings that violate U.S. military safety standards for height, and sent it to the same address list. We sent both letters to GAO, for which we received signed acknowledgements. ree VFP members, Tarak Kau, Dud Hendricks, and Bruce Gagnon, came to Okinawa to join the -per sons-a-day sit-in action in the week beginning April 23. at week, we were able again to visit U.S. Consul General Joel Ehrendreich, who has been friendly toward VFP. C. Douglas Lummis Several members of Chapter 168, shown here with a couple of supporters, tabled on May 19 at the Mighty Kindness Hoot in Louisville, KY, and on Memorial Day at Slugger Field, where the local minor league baseball team, the Louisville Bats, playsreaching two different crowds with their message.
20 Veterans For Peace Newsletter Armistice 100 Marching to a different drummer CORRECTION: We regret that the name of Alice Kurima Newberry, who participated in the last VFP Delega tion to Okinawa, was inadvertently omitted in Ch. 1003 ROCKs chapter report, which appeared on the last page of our Winter 2018 newsletter. It seems most appropriate that VFP Chapter 11 (the George Mizo Chapter in Santa Cruz, California), would be ahead of the curve in planning and celebrating the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day, which falls on 11/11/2018. (As chapter member Rico Baker points out, is also an 11 number.) We heard about the Reclaim Ar mistice Day project from the national oce, explains Rico, and decided last minute to bring ags and posters to the Santa Cruz Clock Tower on 11/11/2017. We got some good feedback from cars honking, and folks showed up to tell stories about being veterans and why the idea of Armistice is so powerful. We rang bells and had a good time. When we realized that 2018 was going to be the 100th anniversary, we started to think of preparing something big. Wouldnt it be great if we could do something meaning ful here for Peace, we thought, especially since we did not like the idea of a Trump Veterans Day parade. We came up with the idea of holding an event each month on the 11th leading up to November. e momentum has been building since, with the rst monthly event held on February 11, 2018 (theyve missed only one), and now there is a Facebook page, Armistice 100 Santa Cruz, for a rolling event called Armistice Year. ough relatively small, the monthly gatherings at the Town Clock have been quite powerful. On March 11, 2018, Stacey Falls, a chemistry teacher at Santa Cruz High School, joined the Armistice 100 event after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, and brought with her two of the students who had organized walkouts in response. Stacey spoke passionately about the fear her students live with and the requirement now for regular active-shooter drills at her school. She described overturning large tables to blockade the door and search ing for chemi cals that might be thrown in defense, in case someone with a weapon entered her classroom. I never imagined that I would be holding ac tive-shooter drills when I became a school teacher, she cried. On June 11, Medea Benjamin spoke at the Town Clock after Chapter 11 sponsored her to come and talk about her new book on Iran two days earlier. At the talk, which turned out to be a major event, the citys mayor welcomed Medea to Santa Cruz with a special proclamation. David Swanson is now conrmed for October 12, ensuring another big-name peace event in the lead-up to November. It is certain that Armistice 100 is happening in Santa Cruz, and someone contributed $5,000 to a working fund to keep things moving forward, but details for Sunday, November 11 are still in ux. One thing is set: Saturday evening, November 10, there is to be a multi-faith event with choirs and speakers focusing on Armistice Day and Peace. Planners have reserved the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium (seating capacity 1500-plus) for 11/11/2018, creating an opening for the possibility of producing an event with a major headliner. ey have also reserved use of the Veterans Memorial Building for the day, creating an opening for day-long event program ming. As far as the public celebration on the morning of November 11, organizers are still weighing the pros and cons of either a parade or a large gathering in front of the Veterans Memorial Building and Memorial Plaza (which contains a large eagle sculpture and plaque with the names of veterans killed in WW1). Several local speakers and musicians are already committed, and planners are waiting to hear back from bigger names outside the area. We envision Santa Cruz [serving as] a potential West Coast [center for] Armistice Day/Veterans Day eventsand inviting many VFP Chap ters to participate, says Rico. Santa Cruz can have quite nice weather in November, so it might be attractive for a major event. Big dreams take many hands to pull o. If you are interested in what the Santa Cruz chapter is up to, around Armistice 100, and would like to jump in as a volunteer or as a collaborator, get in touch with Rico Baker & Claire Joy at email@example.com; 831-818-2196. Becky Luening Now Therefore, I, Calvin Coolidge, President of the United States of America, ... do invite the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies ex pressive of our gratitude for peace and our desire for the continuance of friendly relations with all other Armistice Day proclamation of Nov. 3, 1926 Medea Benjamin of CodePink speaks at the Clock Tower in Santa Cruz, June 11, 2018, at one of the Armistice Year events organized by VFP Chapter 11 to build momentum for Armistice Days 100th Anniversary.
Summer 2018 21 Celebrate Armistice Day on November 11th by Madeleine Mysko November. Veterans Day. Im a veteran who can feel its approach in her bones. e smell of autumn in the air, the leaves turningonce again Im overwhelmed by complicated feelings, so hard to explain. is year its been es pecially trying, because Im also bearing up under the weight of the PBS series on the war in Vietnam. Meanwhile the public arena is a mineeld of viciousness over how we properly demonstrate our patriotism. It makes my hands shake to see ithow we cant even get through a football game without tearing each other apart. Last week, right after the calendar turned to November, I walked to the me morials on the grounds of the Baltimore County Courthousethe gleaming black Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and beyond it the newer, earthen-colored me morial dedicated to veterans who served in Operations Desert Storm, Enduring Freedom, and Iraqi Freedom. I go there often. I write in my notebook there and sometimes take photosin the morning and at dusk, on gray days and snowy days, in the dappled light of a gorgeous Memorial Day. As I turned the corner on the court house lawn and approached the memori als, I was upset by something new on the path: Close to my feet, standing small but erect above the fallen leaves, a line of crisp American ags. I was upset, but I took a photo anyway, getting down on one knee to achieve the best angle. ere were people walking byit was lunch hour, a pretty day. All of a sudden I wanted to accost those innocent, unsus pecting people. Armistice Day! I want ed to yell at them. Flags! Couldnt we just for once put the patriotism away? Few people care that the 11th day of the 11th month wasnt always called Vet erans Day, that it used to be Armistice Day. Few people see the irony. Once upon a time years ago in facta devastating world war came to an end. To celebrate the peace, our nation set aside one sacred day each year, a day to join all nations in recalling the moment when at last the arms were laid down. Eleven bells would toll solemnly at the 11th hour, and nobody would march in patriotic parades displaying military might. But time went by, and then, after a second devastating world war, our nation gave up on Armistice Day. e 11th day of November be came Veterans Day instead. It was as though we no longer believed in that blessed moment of peace when all the arms would be laid down. We dedicated ourselves to honoring those brave men and women who still carry the arms for us, the ones we keep sending o to wars we dont fully understand and havent the courage or the political will to end. Of course I didnt yell at anyone that day at the memorial. I got a grip and began my ritual of reading the dedica tion and the names of the dead. It took some time; on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Baltimore County, there are 148 names. I used to have a quarrel with the wording on the memorial: Vietnam Veterans Memorial: Dedicated to the Citizens of Baltimore County who served their Nation in Southeast Asia, 1957-1975. I used to think it wasnt right to dedicate this place to all of us veterans, just because we served. It seemed to me a memorial belonged to the dead. But lately Ive had a change of heart. Veterans like me, whose service included seeing with our own eyes the suering and death of othersmaybe we do need a place dedicated to us. ere we can sit on the bench in the shade of old trees, year after year of ongoing war, and consider what we know about the costs. Maybe we even need this special day, the 11th of November. But if it were up to me, Id ask a favor of the nation: Please return to us the nameand the blessed spirit of Armistice. Madeleine Mysko is a novelist, contrib uting editor to the American Journal of Nursing, and a member of the Baltimore chapter of Veterans For Peace; she served in the Army Nurse Corps at the Brooke Army Medical Center during the Vietnam War. GROWING PAINS When I was a boy, I didnt ponder, I absorbed what others put on my plate. As Boy Scouts, uniformed, decorated, we marched, saluted, sang, bugled and drummed. Unarmed, excepting sheath knives, on the way to slaughter. Patriotism/militarism was, for me and my buddies, one word, Indivisible, ordained, as in the pledge. We had been fed an expurgated slice of Death. When my war was done, I escaped that unity of lies, discovered there is no respite from the double word, only standing up against it, outraged, JAY WENK November 11, 2017 JAY WENK, PRESENTE! In the above photo, Jay Wenk has just been handed the VFP Poet Laureate torch by Doug Rawlings at the 2017 convention in Chicago. We were saddened to hear of Jays passing on May 29, 2018. He was 91. Below is a poem he shared via email on November 11, 2017. ELLEN DAVIDSON Maybe we do need a place where we can sit on a bench in the shade of old trees, year after year of ongoing war, and consider what we know about the costs.
22 Veterans For Peace Newsletter Book Reviews e True Flag: eodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain, and the Birth of American Empire by Stephen Kinzer ( New York: Henry Holt & Co., 2017).r Review by Craig Etchison Two questions Ive been mulling over in recent years are these: When did the Unit ed States become a military thug on the world stage? And who was responsible, especially given the tradition of avoiding foreign entanglements articulat ed by George Washington? e answers are found in a splendid new book by Stephen Kinzer, in which he delves deeply into a brief period of U.S. history at the end of the 19th century. In Kinzers account, the U.S. move toward militarism and empire begins principally with the Spanish-American War (1898) and the struggles for independence of Spains island colonies, Cuba and the Philippines. We had used our military before then, against the Mexicans, French, and Native Amer icans, to establish the borders of the lower 48, but would we launch ourselves onto the world stage and grab colonies as the Europeans had? e Spanish-American War provoked a substantial debate among prominent Americans: Should we embrace an imperialistic policy or should mind out own busi ness and let other countries decide their own fates? Anti-imperialist Senator George F. Hoar addressed the U.S. Senate. You have no right at the cannons mouth to impose on an unwilling people your Declaration of Independence and your constitution and your notions of freedom and notions of what is good. Another vocal critic was Mark Twain, who had traveled the globe and seen the results of Eurocentric imperi alism. As Kinzer explains, He saw his own country rushing to repeat the follies he believed had corrupted Britain, France, Belgium, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Russia, and the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian Empires. at way, he warned, lay war, oligarchy, militarism, and the suppression of freedom at home and abroad. e assertion that the U.S. would only use imperialism for good was renounced by Representative Da vid Henderson, a leading Republican, who pointed out, no international law makes the United States the regulator of the wrongs of the earth. A principal spokesperson for imperialism and militarism, eodore Roosevelt had some absurd views of what it meant to be a real man, such as killing others in military actions. Unfortunately, Teddys brief war experience didnt give him anything like a true understanding of what war means, not just for soldiers, but even more so for civilians. Much of the wisdom of those who spoke against our becoming an imperial power at the end of the 19th century, could have applied in 2003 before we marched o to the Iraq debacle. In what is thought to be the rst major anti-imperial ism speech in U.S. history, Charles Eliot Norton said, Ameri ca has been compelled against the will of all her wisest and best to enter into a path of darkness and peril. Against their will she has been forced to turn back from the way of civilization to the way of barbarism, to renounce for the time her own ideals. Others saw war and imperialism as a cancer on democracy. William G. Sumner, a Yale professor, wrote in 1899, e great foe of democracy now and in the near future is plutocracy. In that war, militarism, expansion, and imperialism will all favor plutocracy. erefore expansion and imperialism are a grand onslaught on democracy. In spite of many who wished to prevent an imperialistic adventureand the Senate vote was closeo to Cuba and o to the Philippines we went, and the result for those ci vilian populations was brutal, especially in the Philippines, where torture, including waterboarding, was used extensively. Twains comment: To make them confesswhat? Truth? Or lies? How can one know which it is they are telling? For under unendurable pain a man confesses anything that is required of him, true or false, and his evidence is worthless. e war in the Philippines was the rst time our soldiers, under orders, systematically brutalized civilians. It would not, sadly, be the last. In 1901, explorer George Kennan exposed what was hap pening in the Philippines. We have established a penal colony; we have burned native villages near which there has been an ambush or an attack by insurgent guerillas; we kill the wound ed; we resort to torture as a means of obtaining information. As in recent history, some felt compelled to defend the mili tary. Harpers argued, Having the devil to ght, [the army] has sometimes used re. Having semi-civilized men to ght, it has in some instances used semi-civilized methods. at will be inevitable as long as soldiers are men. So much for our laws and our supposed adherence to basic human decency. Twain directly addressed the economic oshoot of U.S. militarism: e government was irrevocably in the hands of the prodigiously rich and their hangers-on ere was no principle but commercialism, no patriotism but of the pocket. Kinzer expands on the thought that history has vindicated those anti-imperialists who predicted an aggressive foreign pol icy would have pernicious eects at home, listing many of the ways in which the Military-Industrial Complex has its hands around democracys throat. Charles Ames was right when he warned that militarism would lead to trampling on the princi ples of free government. At the end of Kinzers book is a brief assessment of where decisions made in the late 1890s have gotten us. From Iran and Guatemala to Iraq and Afghanistan, he says, interven tion has devastated societies and produced violent anti-Amer ican passion. He concludes that Historys great counsel to the United States is that it should more carefully weigh the
Summer 2018 23 long-term eects of its foreign interventions. I can only hope that Kinzers treatise will open some eyes, perhaps encourage more people to think about the road were presently racing down. Id like to think theres still hope of taking the next exit and beginning to engage the world in a far dierent way. A vision of peaceful coexistence on a planet where diplomacy rules acknowledges a simple but profound truthwe are all human. Craig Etchison served with the First Cav in Vietnam and is a member of VFP. He is a professor emeritus and has published a collection of short stories about his Vietnam experiences, Vietnam Snapshots. Among his young adult novels is Journey into Dark ness, the story of a teenage girl caught up in war. In retirement he continues to write, paint, and garden 1914: A Novel by Jean Echenoz. Published in French as 14 (2012); Translated from the French by Linda Coverdale (New York: e New Press, 2014). Review by Doug Rawlings I am something of a niche reader when it comes to war ction; I seek out literature that helps clarify the true costs of war. As a veteran of the American war in VietrNam, I like to use Tim OBriens classic caveat to identify the best of the genre: A true war story is never moral. It does not instruct, nor en courage virtue, nor suggest models of proper human behav ior. If a story seems moral, do not believe it. As a rst rule of thumb, you can tell a true war story by its absolute and uncompromising allegiance to obscenity and evil. (Tim OBrien, e ings ey Carried ) French novelist Jean Echenozs 1914 is fascinating, enlight ening, and deeply, deeply saddening. For me, this slim book does for WWI what e Iliad rdoes for the Ancient Greek Wars, what the short stories of Ambrose Bierce do for the American Civil War, and what Tim OBriens stories do for my war. Echenozs laconic, almost dreamy, tone, combined with minute details of life, death, and mutilation in the trenches, is pitch perfect. e novel revolves around a handful of characters, even though, as one astute reviewer commented, the war itself, perhaps, is the main character we follow in its macabre devel opment. In a very short space of time, we are led from the do mestic scene of young men marching to promises of honor and Book Review continued on page 26 stark contrast with the parade of war ships during Fleet Weeks in Los Angeles and San Diego. Some joined us on the ship during the San Diego Fleet Week protest while others handed out iers ashore as we sailed by. e Golden Rule also went to Ensenada to take several Deported Veterans sailing, and they very much appreciated our solidarity! Were delighted with a new docu mentary titled Making Waves: Rebirth of the Golden Rule, a Caneyhead Production by James Knight and Wendy Rogan. Filmed during San Diego Fleet Week, the 10-minute version is embedded on the Golden Rule website, vfpgoldenrule.org. e 25-minute version can be seen at vimeo.com/250517563 (password vfpgrp18). e Golden Rule will soon embark on the exciting next phase of her historic voyage. We are preparing to sail across the Pacic, to Hawaii, in November, and then on to the Mar shall Islands, Guam, Okinawa, Korea, and Japan. With indige nous peace activists in all those countries, we will highlight the growing dangers of nuclear war and the militarization of the Pacic Island nations. In preparation for her trip, the Golden Rule is receiving many upgrades, especially of communication and safety equipment. In July and August, nal outtting takes place in Humboldt Bay, the peace boats home port since she was rebuilt there from 2010 to 2015. In September, we sail back down the coast to San Diego, stopping along the way for Bon Voyage parties in San Francisco, Berkeley, Santa Cruz, Marina del Rey, and San Pedro. Each stop will be an opportunity to raise money for the trip and to continue to talk with people about the importance of the U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Final crew training, provisioning, and sea trials, as well as a grand farewell, before launching on the epic voyage around the Pacic, are slated for late October! e important work of this VFP peace boat is made possi ble by the ongoing support from many members and chapters. ank you for keeping the wind in the sails of the Golden Rule! For more information, please visit vfpgoldenrule.org. The Golden Rule sails near the Golden Gate. GERRY CONDON Golden Rule Update contd from page 5
24 Veterans For Peace Newsletter Q&A: How did you become a veteran for peace? Mike Kerber When the Iraq War started, the memories of the uselessness of the VietrNam War came back to me, and I needed to have some way to protest that war and every other one we seem to get into. While serving in the artillery in VietrNam (1969), I saw what war does to soldiers and civilians just so a politician can win an election. We can all be proud of our VFP. Ray Kessler I enlisted in the Air Force in 1969 after receiving a draft notice. Already a pacist I struggled with my conscience for some time, especially after the Kent State massacre in May 1970. I was discharged as a conscientious objector in February 1972. I soon quit a job with General Electric because they were supplying thermoplastics for ghter jets. Found a job I could live with myself retiring four years ago. Larry Johnson I grew up a committed member of my Kill a Commie for Christ church.ren I discovered Mennonite-type theology; pretty much identical to mine, except for their refusal to kill in war, a position in line with early Christians.rI researched that historical fact, guring early Christians more closely followed the real teachings of Jesus, and my personal study served as the basis for my C.O. statement:If I get drafted, Ill be a medic, but not carry a weapon. Which is what happened.rWhen I got out, I did a lot of peace-and-justice storytelling, but didnt think of myself as a veteran, because I felt my actual service was benign.r For about ten years I was attract ed each October to the VFP table at the annual teach ers convention in Minnesota, but didnt join until we invaded Iraq based on falsehood.rMut tering, Havent we learned anything? I lled out the VFP membership form that had been buried on my desk, and that has made all the dierence.r I served as President of Chapter 27 for ve years (2009), and now organize World Storytelling Day each year, mainly from the perspective of We were there.rWe know how horrible war is, and we demand the World nd a way to end it.rIn November 2016, I published a book titled Sixty-One, a collection of 61 stories calling for Mike Kerber marches in a local Veterans Day parade, uninvited. Medea Benjamin and Ray Kessler in Washington D.C. at the 2017 Memorial Day demonstration with VFP and Code Pink. Larry Johnson, on the 70-mile Beating Weap ons into Windmills Walk during his 70th year, a sequel to the 61-mile hike he took at age 61. Whats your story? In your own wordsaround 200describe how you came to VFP; tell us something about your military history or your personal evolution of consciousness. Include a high-res image of yourselffrom the distant or recent past (or both). Send to: firstname.lastname@example.org. We encourage submissions from members of all stripes so please dont be shy! Stories continued on next page
Summer 2018 25 less war, therefore fewer veterans, and no more arguing about veteran care, especially mental health and exposure to chemical toxins.rMy original conscientious objection was pretty naive just, I wont kill.rIt has evolved into, Im conscientiously committed to an end to all injustice, using strategic force, but not killing. William Schleppegrell I was only 19 when I enlisted in the service a year after Pearl Harbor, and I must admit I was really gungho to ght those Germans! On my seventeenth dive-bombing mission as a P-47 underbolt ghter pilot, I was shot down over Germany and spent the remainder of the war in Stalag I prison camp. After the war, I returned to the University of Minnesota, but changed my major to German. Why? I just had to answer the big questionWho are those people? And so I began to learn their language and study their culture, and eventually became a German language teacher. During the time between the prison camp and my career as a high school teacher, my whole attitude changedI realized that those people are no dierent than us! I brought many groups of high school and college students to Germany, so they could learn rsthand how terrible war is and the destruction it brings to families, homes, and infrastructure. And I came to realize I could play a big part in developing a positive feeling for peace and a hatred for war just by talking about my experiences! I joined most of the service organizations, but found the values I was looking for in Veterans For Peace. Ive taken part in VFP parades in Grand Rapids and Hibbing. I have tried to be an example to young people and to my peers, and to promote what omas Mann so eloquently wrote, War is a cowards escape from the problems of peace! Bill Schleppegrell, who will be 95 this year, has enjoyed almost 34 years of retirement, after a 36year teaching career. Jessie Medvan My journey to peace began during my deployment with the Army National Guard in 2004. Stationed in Camp Cooke in Taji, Iraq, my job was to provide communications to 1st Cav from Texas and 39th artillery from Arkansas. It was clear to me from the start that the civilian population did not want us there. While on our journey to Taji, we met a man who told us to leave because we were making things worse. I was very humbled by the Iraqis that I worked with. Despite the fact that their infrastructure was wrecked by our war, they would come to work on our camp to dispose of trash and sewage and to perform manual labor. While deployed, I read books such as e Kite Runner and A ousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. ese were sent to me by family and proved to be instrumental in my coming to grips with what we had done to the people of Iraq, as these were stories that humanized people from the Middle East. It was a long, slow, and grueling process to unpack how I felt about being part of an occupying Army and providing communications that undoubtedly led to innocent deaths. When I joined VFP Chapter 47 in 2013, it was a great chance for me to really begin a healing process and to be able to work toward peace within myself and for the world. Jessie Medvan is an active member of VFP Chapter 47. least a dozen others. Here in North Carolina, she wrote, we are buoyed by the knowledge that so many other VFPers were standing in solidarity as we cried out against the war economy and the ceaseless wars of terror supported in our name and with our tax dollars. As we sang today: Its gone on far too long, and we wont be silent any more! Chapter 157 members attended three additional rallies in Raleigh as well as PPCs June 23rd Mass Mobilization in D.C., where Vicki got to march for a while beside VFP Executive Director Michael McPhearson. Her report signals inner strength and steady perseverence, not just for herself but for the PPC: As Rev. Barber continues to remind us, weve really just begun. e Poor Peoples Campaign will continue its ght against systemic poverty and racism, the war economy, environmental devastation, and this countrys distorted moral narrative until we set it right once and for all. Siempre en la lucha! Poor Peoples Campaign from page 8
26 Veterans For Peace Newsletter Loose Ends 1914: A Novel book review contd from page 23 glory in exchange for a very short time in the eld, into the trenches, where the realities of war take hold. Artillery attacks, mustard gas, rats, heat, despair and angerno one is spared. Upper-class Charles is swooped out of the infantry and placed into a plane to photograph the war from a privileged and, everyone thinks, protected space. Here we nd recent technologies of warfare delightfully merging.rUntil a bullet travel[ling] 40 feet through the air at 3,280 feet per second at an altitude of 2,300 feetenter[s] the left eye of Nobles [the pilot]as Charles, gaping over Alfreds slumped shoulder, sees the ground on which he will crash approaching at tip-top speed. Charles working-class brother, Anthime, at rst seems to be worse o. As an infantryman, he slogs through the sicken ing brutality and inhumanity of the trenches to nd himself one day emerging alive from an artillery attack using 105mm percussion-fuse shells that haphazardly claims the lives of all those around him: [S]ilence seemed intent on returning when a tardy piece of shrapnel showed upan iron fragment shaped like a polished Neolithic ax, smoking hot, the size of a mans hand, fully as sharp as a large shard of glass.rWithout even a glance at the oth ers, as if it were settling a personal score, it sped directly toward Anthime as he was getting to his feet and, willy-nilly, lopped o his right arm clean as a whistle, just below the shoulder. Echenozs use of such trite, cliched language to capture a life-changing event is masterful. No God present in these trenches.rEverything is a matter of chance. (Welcome to one of wars most hidden secrets.)rAnthimes good wound lets him be sent home to be coddled and admiredand to be riddled by nightmares for the rest of his life. At the novels start, Anthime arrives at the barracks in the company of three shing and cafe comrades: Padioleau (a butchers boy), Bossis (a knacker), and Arcenel (a saddler). Bossis loses his life in the same assault that claims Anthimes arm, and Padioleau returns from the front a blind man. But it is Arcenels fate that captures the absurdity and classism of all war.rAs the one in four remaining in the war, having escaped maiming or death (a choice in some cases), he found a third solution [for getting out], without truly choosing it, actu ally. In a classic account of battleeld PTSD, Arcenelrmere ly sets o on a meandering walk away from his unit, and nds himself moving toward life, only to be met by the dreaded gendarmes whose task it is to make sure [soldiers] would go get themselves killed properly. Lacking the wherewithal to ef fectively plead his case, Arcenel nds freedom by ring squad.r Back at home, Charles lover, Blanche, watches the war from afar, but is not untouched by it.rFirst of all, she has to live with the fact that it was she who suggested to an inuential doctor that Charles be given a safer assignment utilizing his photography and his interest in aviation.rUnder the cover of wartime, she manages to hide the shame of bearing Charless illegitimate daughter after his death. Later, she and her fam ilyowners of the shoe factory that prots by using cheaper materials on soldiers boots as the war grinds ontakes care of Anthime after he returns a wounded hero. e novel closes with an ohand description of a night in Paris during which Anthime suddenly wakes up, crosses the corridor to Blanches room, where she wasnt sleeping either.... And the following autumn, during the very battle at Mons that turned out to be the last one, a male infant was born who was given the name Charles. At last, a male heir to continue the lineage of fami lyand of war. Translator Linda Coverdale helps readers understanding of the main characterthe war itselfwith fourteen Transla tors Notes, in which she denes terms used by the troops and oers insightful commentary, such as: e Battle of the Somme (July 1November 18, 1916), one of the biggest and bloodiest battles of the war, was also one of the most deadly confrontations in history, with a butchers bill of more than a million casualties. Butchers bill, indeed. And: In the end, almost half the French infantry at the Western Front may have taken part in insubordination at some point, encouraged at times by the stunning example of the Russian Revolution, news of which was spread by socialist newspa persrand the infantry rumor mills. Before the books end, we are convinced that both the cause and result of this war is, by all reasonable accounts, a devas tating collapse of Western Civilization.rAnd another truth is realizedthat it was the spirit of the fatigued soldier that brought the war to an end.rMutinies in the ranks forebode di saster for the ruling classes and their subservient generals.rAnd they knew it. Near the end of the story, passing by the Gare de lEst station in Paris less than a year before wars end, Anthime stops where drunken soldiers are gathered, some of them singing seditious songs o-key. Recognizing e Internationale (a standard anthem of the socialist movement since the late nineteenth century), Anthime stood perfectly still and his face showed no expression as he raised his right st in solidarity, but no one saw him do it (his phantom limb being invisible). Perhaps we will yet see the so-called War on Terror troops mount their rebellion.rPerhaps.rat is always the thought that comes to my mind after reading a subversive war nov elmaybe, just maybe, ctionalized history can be a prelude to the future.rJean Echenozs superb tale is well worth reading for many reasons, a handy book to have at the ready when a reference point is needed. Read this book, we can tell the young soldiers of today, and see how history repeats itself, with you in the drivers seat. Come join us so we can work together to change the story.
Summer 2018 27 is was another reminder of what we are up against. Not only the econom ic draft, but the need for people to nd meaning in life, feel good about what they are doing, and about themselves. People want to do good, they want to do the right thing, and our society teaches us that the military, above all else, is the place to nd honor and self-sacrice. e lure of being a hero, making your family and community proud, is a powerful force that is not easily countered with alternatives to military service, because there is no alternative to societal adula tion. Quoting Dr. King, we need a revo lution in values before we can hope to have young men and women refuse to ght in wars. Next, I headed to San Diego. e Hugh ompson Memorial Chapter 91 in San Diego is doing incredible work and growing their chapter. ey have a two-prong approach. eir Compassion Campaignoriginally motivated by the plight of homeless veteransis an outreach eort to help displaced people sleeping on the streets of San Diego. As of May, they have given out 3,400 sleep ing bags! is kind of campaign shows that we care and work for peace by directly helping people. Yet we demand accountability and systemic change. e chapter has also embarked on a ve-year plan to change public understanding of what the local Miramar Air Show is actually all about. One of their goals, as stated on their website, is to steer the public to resist attending in su cient numbers to make the show not worth the time, eort, risk and expense. [Learn more at www.sdvfp.org.] is type of action campaign is compliment ed by the direct services work. Walking the talk is always more eective than simply talking. I went to San Diego primarily to visit VFP 182, the Baja, Mexico, Chapter founded mainly by deported U.S. veter ans. is is the second time I have visited with our deport ed U.S. veteran members in Mexico. Led by Hector Lopez and Robert Vivar, I am inspired by the chapters ini tiative and organizing. ey are providing real-time help to people. A veteran who had just been deported arrived while I was there. I cannot imagine being forced out of my country to a place I know nothing about. How lost he must feel. However, the Veterans For Peace family is there to help with the transition and to ght with him for his right to return home. e absurdity of the deported veter ans is a stark example of our nations dis torted moral narrative. A narrative that justies bombing and killing innocent people in the name of peace. A narrative that allows constant praise of veterans for our service, while at the same time throwing us away to the streets, to de portation, or to a personal, deep despair that too many times ends in suicide. A narrative that claims pride in being a nation of immigrants, while at the same time attempting to extinguish the light guiding todays tired, poor and hud dled masses to our nations borders and shores. A narrative that claims to believe in liberty and equality yet elects a racist, misogynist narcissist president. Veterans For Peace chapters and members are doing awesome and important work. ank you for your service to humanity! You are working to end the scourge of war before it ends us. You know that war is a choice and that most who participate are manipulated into believing it is a necessary evil. I am grateful to you for making the choice to struggle for peace. I am honored to be in your company as a member of Veterans For Peace. Michael T. McPhearson Executive Directors Report: ank you for your service contd from page 4 Michael McPhearson (second from left) and members of San Diego Chapter 91 pose with deported veterans during a recent visit to VFP Chapter 182 in Tijuana, Baja, Mexico. Arlington West at Santa Monica Beach MAURICE MARTIN
Veterans For Peace 1404 N. Broadway Saint Louis, MO 63102 veteransforpeace.org US Postage PAID St. Louis, Missouri Permit #5414 Planning for the August 22-26, 2018, VFP National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota has been challenging at times, but our conference calls have enjoyed great participation, lively discussion, and fortunately, some hearty laughs. e convention will be held at the InterContinental St. Paul Riverfront, a union hotel that was selected for its location and because it is owned and operated by the native Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, designated in their language as Misi-zaaganigani Anishinaabeg. Many, many excellent workshops, plenaries, and mini-plenaries are in store. Consolidating topics and presenters in a cogent manner has taken a lot of careful thought, and planners are feeling very good about the overall program as it continues to be dened and rened. Caucus meetings for VFP women and possible others are also on the program. As of this writing, conrmed speak ers include Christine Ahn, founder and international coordinator of Women Cross DMZ, who will be the keynote speaker at the banquet, and David Swan son, of World Beyond War, who will be a featured presenter, wth local peace activists, for a closing plenary panel on the Kellogg-Briand Pact. e traditional Wednesday evening Poetry Salon is being coordinated by John Spitzberg. Film screenings are also in the works. ere will be two o-site special events: erboat cruise on the Mississippi includes tasty nger food and music. Tickets are available via the registration page for an additional $25/person). a public Poor Peoples Campaign event on the Intersection of Systemic Racism, Poverty, War Economy and Ecological Devastation, featuring local speakers aected by these issues. at event will also feature music. anks to John Jadryev, the morn ing yoga sessions have leaders from the Veterans Yoga Project. And a local Zen Buddhist monk will lead the morning meditation sessions. Many volunteers are still needed to make the convention run smoothly, and a comprehensive list of volunteer roles is being compiled and will be available soon. Make your interest in volunteering known in advancewe need you! Please feel free to contact any of the members of Chapter 27s convention planning committee with questions: Penny Gardner: email@example.com Dave Logsdon: firstname.lastname@example.org John MacLeod: email@example.com Barry Riesch: firstname.lastname@example.org Members of the Will Miller Green Mountain VFP Chapter 57 in Vermont marched with this special new banner in two Memorial Day parades The 50-feet-long banner utilizes different colors and proportional lengths to represent the distorted 2019 U.S. budget: ORANGE = 43.5 ft. ($686 billion for War and Defense, up 13% from 2017) INVISIBLE = 0 ft. ($0 for Restoration of the Environment and Communities damaged by war and defense). Will we see you in St. Paul?