Friday, April 29, 2016

Send A Memorial Day Letter To The Vietnam Veterans Wall In Wash DC


Photo credit: Meutia Chaerani - Indradi Soemardjan - Own work Indrani, CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=779984
My life has been touched by the suffering of Vietnam veterans since I was a teenager. My first lover was a Vietnam veteran who eventually killed himself. 

I began to fall in love with my husband when I heard him tell a military age young man why he had risked his own health to avoid the draft during the Vietnam war: he knew that his government was lying to him.

My friends in the current antiwar movement often are veterans of Vietnam who have sustained the moral injuries of combat and who struggle with depression and despair. Many family members of students I've taught have suffered from PTSD, substance abuse, cancer and other health effects of being Vietnam vets. This continues to put stress on families down through the generations.
"Heavily bandaged woman with a tag attached to her arm
which reads 'VNC Female' meaning Vietnamese civilian"

Photo credit: By Philip Jones Griffiths - National Library of WalesThe National Library of Wales, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=38576244
The above is my response to this invitation from Veterans for Peace co-founder Doug Rawlings:

AMERICA NEEDS TO HEAR FROM YOU

If you have suffered through the Vietnam war, either as a military veteran or as a resister or as a partner of a veteran or a child or a sibling of a veteran or just as a caring citizen of this country, you need to know that your voice is needed. 

On Memorial Day, May 30th, we will be delivering letters to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (The Wall) with heartfelt messages to those young men and women whose names are on The Wall. Please join us. 

Your note can be one paragraph long or many paragraphs. It can be written to a specific name on The Wall or just as a general cry out against war. Last year we laid 151 letters and 32 postcards at the foot of The Wall in a ceremony that not only profoundly affected us but also those who read the letters as they passed by. Rest assured that your letter will be treated with the respect and caring it deserves -- this ceremony is not a political action. It is an act of remembrance and grief. 

But it also is more than a reaching out to the past. It is a message to the future.  You who have firsthand knowledge of that war need to have your voices heard. For the next ten years we will be witnessing a series of fifty year commemorations that will mark the Viet Nam War in the minds of many young people. They need to know more than the "official" story of that war. They need to know the many truths that only you can tell. Please join us.

You have until MAY 14TH to write your letter and send it either as an email message to rawlings@maine.edu or as a handwritten letter to Doug Rawlings, 13 Soper Road, Chesterville, Maine 04938. 

I will guarantee that your letter will be placed in a business envelope, opened at the top, with the words "PLEASE READ ME" emblazoned on the front flap, and then placed at the foot of The Wall at 10:30am, Memorial Day, May 30th.   

Last year, the National Park Service collected all of our letters and then asked if they could place the letters in a special display. We agreed. Our voices continue to be heard. Please put your voice alongside ours.

Doug Rawlings
Veterans For Peace

Thursday, April 28, 2016

More Troops To #Syria, More Refugees Fleeing U.S. Imperial Violence

Image source: Organizing Notes

Can you find Syria on this map? Can you find the Aegean Sea where toddlers are drowning when boats of refugees capsize fleeing war in Syria? Most in the U.S. could find neither if the map weren't clearly labeled.




When President Obama announces he will send more troops into Syria, do his constituents care? He already sent B-52 bombers to drop weapons of mass destruction this month and there was hardly a peep. People in the U.S. are too busy being super excited about the presidential election which will change nothing in the march toward a third world war.

Liberal Democrats are being outflanked by far right Republicans when it comes to criticizing U.S. imperial expansion abroad. Probably because the project of empire is seen as tremendously expensive and ultimately unsustainable by fiscal conservatives. Some of the criticism is nativist as in "let them kill each other, it's none of our business" which exhibits a deep ignorance of the history of colonialism.

Japan is effectively a U.S. colony and has been since the end of the second world war. Yesterday President Obama threatened North Korea with bellicose rhetoric, saying "the U.S. could destroy" that country. As reported by Reuters via the Huffington Post:
Separately, President Barack Obama said the United States is working on defending itself and its allies against potential threats from what he called an “erratic” country with an “irresponsible” leader. 
On April 15, the North failed to launch what was likely a Musudan missile, with a range of more than 3,000 km (1,800 miles), meaning it could, if launched successfully, hit Japan and also theoretically put the U.S. territory of Guam within range.
Here's the question corporate news has trained the taxpayers who support all these wars never to ask: why would Guam be a U.S. territory? There must be actual human beings on Guam who have the right to govern themselves.

Here's another one: why is the U.S. funding terrorist groups like ISIS on the one hand and bombing them on the other? Don't ask Obama. Ask the CEOs of General Dynamics, Boeing, Lockheed and other "defense" contractors.

I vote we return to calling the Department of "Defense" the Department of War. In this age of information control and euphemisms, this will not happen. In the meantime, I will continue to call out the Pentagon for its crimes against humanity and the environment.

Toddlers will keep drowning, the charade of two corporate parties running against one another will continue to entertain, and the super rich will get even super richer as we escalate the unwinnable "war on terror." If history is any indication, none of this will end well.

What to do? Use the internet while you still have it and use your networks to find real information. Lift up your voice and share some truth.