metablue.jpg (14625 bytes)

February, 2003, Volume 10 Nr. 6, Issue 114

Cadence and Unity,
Veterans For Peace and the People

by Jozef Hand-Boniakowski

On January 18, 2003, there was an enormous sea of humanity cruising through the veins of power in Washington D.C.  In great numbers, too awesome to accurately count, hundreds of thousands of people, perhaps, half-a-million, the life-blood of an emerging and robust U.S. peace movement, came to the citadel of corporate capital power to express their displeasure with the war policies of the Bush-Cheney oil barons.  

This issue is being written in the dark on a chartered bus on the New York thruway, two hours from home in Vermont, in the middle of the night.  This issue is about the day that non-violent and peace-loving people gave the peace movement momentum and challenged the mind-set of the Pentagon profiteers to pause and reflect, perhaps, to rethink their insane drive to war.  It is about little progressive Vermont which sent 1,000 protestors to the demonstration.  It is mostly, however, about all the people who went on the buses to D.C, who drove, flew, walked, or wheeled themselves in the finger-numbing cold to say, "Enough.  Not in our name."  It is about teachers, students, dental technicians, information technologists, bus drivers, architects, sales people, socialists, capitalists, anarchists, Christians, Jews, atheists, the young, the old, veterans and non-veterans, all, who for one day, intensely united to say, "No!" to a war machine out of control.  

This issue is especially written and dedicated to the hundreds of Veterans For Peace, who reincarnated and redefined military drills learned long ago, into a peace cadence that inspired the throng.  The sheer numbers, upwards of 300,000, hopefully, chagrinned, the present administration's chickenhawks, who once again, are far too eager to turn our youth into canon fodder by fighting for oil.  The chickenhawks include amongst others, George W. Bush (AWOL), Dick Cheney, Trent Lott, Paul Wolfowitz, John Ashcroft, Tommy Thompson, etc.  The full and comprehensive list of chickenhawks is located at the URL: http://www.nhgazette.com/chickenhawks.html.  Chickenhawks send others to kill, while they themselves, avoid military service.  

As a consequence of substituting military action for foreign  policy, many U.S. veterans are wounded, suffering the side effects of Agent Orange, Gulf War syndrome, radioactive poisoning, post traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD), and other military-related illnesses and health conditions.  Tom Nugent writing for fedbuzz.com reports,

The percentage of Gulf War veterans granted disabled status -- 26 percent -- is now higher than for any modern U.S. combat experience and is two and one half times the disability rate from the 10-year-long Vietnam War, according to VA sources.

VA Public Information Officer Jim Benson told FedBuzz that more than 183,000 veterans have been granted "disability status for one or more conditions" resulting from Operation Desert Storm between August of 1990 and April of 1991.

Many veterans return home in boxes covered with the thank you of crisp, clean U.S. flags.  

As Dick Cheney put it, "I was smart enough to get 5 deferments."  As a veteran, I have no problem with those who avoid military service not allowing themselves being exploited by the military-industrial complex.  I do have a problem, however, with those who avoid service and then turn around and send other's sons, husbands, brothers, mothers, wives and sisters, off to war.

At the January 18, 2003, D.C. rally for peace, Veterans For Peace warned the masses not to go to war.  Don't listen to the exporters of death who tell the lies and manipulate patriotism to get the public to accept war as an always-acceptable solution to conflict.  Don't go to protect profits over life.  Veterans For Peace called upon the crowd to stop the administration's killing in our name. 

The Fix in In - State Propaganda

On the day before the D.C. demonstration, the president of Veterans For Peace, David Cline, was interviewed on MSNBC.  The subtle manipulation by the corporate media punditry was easy to miss.  The program, a countdown to war, showed demonstrators against war in Baghdad and then proceeded to mention that on the next day there would be big protests in Washington D.C.  This attempt at negatively linking Iraqi opposition to war with U.S. protesters was followed by an amazing segue -- a segue in keeping with George W. Bush's, critical thinking-stifling, "if you are not with us, you are against us", philosophy.  Little does he know that the people can see through the Bush dyslexicon. 

The MSNBC program went to a commercial break after mentioning that upcoming next there would be an interview with the President of Veterans For Peace.  During the segue, the generic action music was turned up and the announcer said, "War protestors, pro-Iraq or Anti U.S."  Think clearly.  I ask you to consider the choice offered.  This insult to a dedicated and wounded Vietnam war veteran is an affront  to all veterans who served their country so that freedom of speech prevails -- even if that freedom is expressed through the distortion of the corporate-state media, the propaganda organ for the establishment. 

It is bad enough when the corporations steal the collectively-owned airway natural resources which belong to the people.  It is anathema to a free society when the lies spread through advertising are interrupted by the lies that pass for news and reporting.  With dignity, David Cline, responded to the professional MSNBC media man with a Veterans For Peace perspective that is beyond the understanding of the chickenhawks who ask the questions.  

Dispersion and Cadence

The January 18, anti-war demonstration was so huge that it was impossible for groups and organizations to stay together.  The wave after wave of protestors, in their creative and exuberant spirit, dispersed the Veterans For Peace group.  Any cohesiveness was diluted like salt mixing with water becoming the brine of cacophonous resistance.  The blending was gratifying show of solidarity.  

Veterans For Peace regrouped near the intersection of Pennsylvania and Independence Avenues.  Here, dozens of huge and colorful Veterans For Peace trademark helmet and dove logo-laced banners called veterans to gather, drawing  the attention of the marchers.  We were ready.  And, we did not let our demonstrating comrades passing by in the streets down.

Here was the same David Cline, who just the day before, in the belly of the beast, presented a stern and committed call to peace on national television, who called some of the talking head questions ridiculous, with bullhorn in hand, calling out in military cadence, anti-war chants.  Veterans For Peace responded.  The crowd loved it.  A drill sergeant might not.  Veterans For Peace from Maine, New Jersey, New York City, Yonkers, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Vermont, who knows, how many others, yelled out in response.  

When passing demonstrators first saw the Veterans For Peace they yelled and cheered.  The vets responded with the cadence.  The crowd joined them.  Soon, everyone was one mass peace drill team.  Then, a new crowd would notice the vets and it started over.  And, over.  And, over.  For almost two-hours, the chanting continued.  I cannot over-emphasize the impact this had one me and the crowd.  People came over saying, "Thank you for serving our country and thank you for being here."  We, Veterans For Peace, were profoundly moved.  We were one in solidarity, chanting:

HEY THERE UNCLE SAM
WE REMEMBER VIETNAM

VETS FOR PEACE ARE HERE TO SAY
NO WAR WITH IRAQ TODAY

VETERANS AGAINST THE WAR
WE KNOW WHAT WE'RE MARCHIN' FOR

BUSH WANT TO ATTACK
SEND THE ARMY TO IRAQ

GOT TO BE A BETTER WAY
TIME TO PUT THE GUNS AWAY

GUNS TO SHOOT AND BOMBS TO DROP
ALL THIS KILLING HA GOT TO STOP

THEY WAVE THE FLAG WHEN YOU ATTACK
WHEN YOU COME HOME THEY TURN THEIR BACK

WE DON'T WANT ANOTHER WAR
PEACE IS WHAT WE'RE MARCHIN' FOR

AM I RIGHT OR WRONG? (YOU'RE RIGHT)
AM I RIGHT OR WRONG (YOU'RE RIGHT)

We'll Be Back

In the book, "War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning", Chris Hedges writes,

There is among many who fight in war a sense of shame, one that is made worse by the patriotic drivel used to justify the act of killing in war.  Those who seek meaning in patriotism do not want to hear the truth of war, wary of bursting the bubble.  The tensions between those who refuse to let go of the myth and those that know it to be a lie feed into the dislocation and malaise after war.  In the end, neither side cares to speak to the other.  The shame and alienation of combat soldiers, coupled with the indifference to the truth of war by those who were not there, reduces many societies to silence.  It seems better to forget.

Veterans For Peace who have been to combat refuse to forget.  Veterans For Peace, who served our country, but did not see combat, commit ourselves in working with our brothers and sisters to end war.  We know the consequences of American foreign policy because once, at a time in our lives, so many of us carried it out.  We find it sad that war seems so delightful, so often, to those that have no knowledge of it.   We will proudly, and patriotically, continue to denounce war despite whatever misguided sense of euphoria supports it.  We will be back on February 15, 2003 in New York City, where we will join millions world-wide in saying, "No to war!"  Sound off, 1-2.  Sound off, 3-4.  Sound off, 1-2-3-4.  Wage Peace! 

2003 Jozef Hand-Boniakowski, PhD

 
Return to Homepage

Feedback