Friday, May 09, 2014

The Latest From The “Veterans For Peace” Facebook Page-Gear Up For The Spring 2014 Anti-War Season-Troops Out Of Afghanistan Now!-Hands Off The World!

Click below to link to the Veterans For Peace Facebook page for the latest news on what anti-war front the organization is working on.!/pages/Veterans-For-Peace/49422026153

A Stroll In The Park On Veterans Day-Monday November 11, 2013 - Immediate, Unconditional Withdrawal Of All U.S. Troops From Afghanistan! Hands Off Syria! Hands Off Iran! Hands Off The World!

Peter Paul Markin comment:

Back on Veterans Day 2010 I happened to be at the Boston Common located just off the downtown section when I came across some white flags, maybe twenty, waving in the distance over near when Charles Street intersects Beacon Street (the main street of the famous Beacon Hill section of Boston). Since I was heading that way I decided to check out what those flags were all about. Upon investigation I found that the white flags also contained in black outline a peace dove symbol and the words Veterans for Peace. Yah, sign me up, my kind of guys and gals. So, to make a long story short,  I marched with the contingent that year in their spot behind, and not part of, the official parade sponsored by the city (the reason for that separation will be described in more detail below) and have marched each year since, including this year. Previously in promoting and commemorating this peace event I have recycled my sketch from 2010 out of laziness, hubris, or the basic sameness of the yearly event. I have updated that sketch a bit here to reflect on this year’s event.    

Listen, I have been to many marches and demonstrations for democratic, progressive, and socialist causes in my long political life. Some large, many small but both necessary. However, of all those events none, by far, has been more satisfying that to march alongside my fellow ex-soldiers who have, like I have, “switched” over to the other side, have gotten “religion” on the questions of war and peace and what to do about it, have exposed the better angels of their nature after the long hard thrust of war, and preparations for war have lost their allure, and are now part of the struggle against war, the hard, hard struggle against the permanent war machine that this imperial system has embarked upon.

From as far back as in the Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) days (the days when even guys like the present Secretary of State John Forbes Kerry had to march in the streets to allay their angers and hurts) I have always felt that ex-soldiers (hell, active soldiers too, if you can get them out of the barracks, off the bases, and into the streets as happened a little as the Vietnam War moved relentlessly onward ) have had just a little bit more “street cred” on the war issue than the professors, pacifists and little old ladies in tennis sneakers who have traditionally led the anti-war movements. Maybe those brothers (and in my generation it was mainly only brothers) and now sisters may not quite pose the questions of war and peace the way I do, or the way that I would like them to do, don’t do a bookish analysis, complete with footnotes, of the imperial system and their cog part in it, but they are kindred spirits.

Now normally in Boston, and in most places, a Veterans Day parade means a bunch of Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) or American Legion-types taking time off from drinking at their post bars (the infamous “battle of the barstool,” no, battles) and donning the old overstuffed moth-eaten uniform and heading out on to Main Street to be waved at, and cheered on, by like-minded, thankful citizens. And of course that happened in 2010 (and this year) as well. What also happened in Boston this year as in 2010 (and other years but I had not been involved in prior marches) was that the Smedley Butler Brigade of Veterans for Peace (VFP) organized an anti-war march as part of their “Veterans Day” program. Said march to be held at the same place and time as the official one, one o’clock in the afternoon in downtown Boston near the Common.

Previous to 2010 there had been a certain amount of trouble, although I am not sure that it came to blows, between the two groups. (I have only heard third-hand reports on previous events so all I know is that were some heated disputes) You know the "super-patriots" vs. “commie symps” thing that has been going on as long, maybe before, as there have been ex-soldiers (and others) who have differed from the bourgeois parties’ pro-war line. In any case the way this impasse had been resolved previously, and the way the parameters were set in 2010 and this year as well, was that the VFP took up the rear of the official parade, and took up the rear in an obvious way. Separated that year, if you can believe this, from the main body of the official parade by a medical emergency truck. This year by a phalanx of Boston Police motorcycle cops. Nice, right? Something of the old "I’ll take my ball and bat and go home" by the "officials" was in the air on that one on every occasion.

In the event this year’s march went off as usual for both parties, as we waited behind the motorcycle cordon for the “officials” to pass by. While waiting I noticed that while the anti-war contingent was about the same size as it has been for the past few years that I have participated, filled out with other peace activists from Quakers and shakers to ranters and chanters and ant-drone folk (strolling along with a mobile replica of a drone to make their point nicely), all angelic, or at least all also on the right side of the angels, the VFP component looked a little smaller. This reflecting the inevitable aging, can’t make the walk, reality that VFP like myriad peace and social justice-oriented organizations are now peopled, alarmingly so, mainly by older activists who cut their teeth in the struggles of the 1960s (or earlier).

Equally as alarming was the sight of more of my Vietnam era veterans using canes, walkers and other aids to either walk the parade or to get around and listen to the program at the end of the march at the Samuel Adams Park at Fanuiel Hall. The hopeful sign though was an increased number of Iraq (Iraq 2003) and Afghanistan veterans who have had enough time to reflect on their war experiences and made a decision to come over to the side of the angels. One such veteran spoke from platform, as did veterans from the Korean and Vietnam War eras, as well as a speaker on behalf of Chelsea Manning, the heroicWikileaks whistle-blower soldier.            

But here is where there is a certain amount of rough plebeian justice, a small dose for those on the side of the angels, in this wicked old world. In order to form up, and this was done knowingly by VFP organizers in 2010 and this year well, the official marchers, the bands and battalions that make up such a march, had to “run the gauntlet” of dove emblem-emblazoned VFP banners waving frantically directly in front of their faces as they passed by. Moreover, although we again this year formed the caboose of this thing the crowds along the parade route actually waited for us after the official paraders had marched by and waved, clapped, and flashed the ubiquitous peace sign at our procession from the sidelines. Be still my heart.

That response just provides another example of the "street cred” that ex-soldiers have on the anti-war question. Now, if there is to be any really serious justice in the world, if only these fellow vets would go beyond then “bring the troops home” and pacific vigil tactics and embrace- immediate, unconditional withdrawal of all U.S./Allied Troops from everywhere, embrace a more studied response to the nature of war policy “in the belly of the beast” then we could maybe start to get somewhere out on those streets. But today, like at that first white flag sighting in 2010 I was very glad to be fighting for our socialist future among those who know first-hand about the dark side of the American experience. No question.

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