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.
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.
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.