Armistice Day 2014: Ring out war, ring in peace

On Tuesday, November 11, 2014, please join us in Portland’s Pioneer Square (701 SW 6th) at 10:30 a.m., and bring a bell if you have one. At 11 o’clock we will circle around and ring bells together — 11 chimes — to celebrate the end of one of the bloodiest wars in history, and to call for cessation of today’s hostilities and for the end of all war.

Event sponsors:
Veterans For Peace Chapter 72
Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom Portland Branch
Code Pink Portland
Living Earth
Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility
Recruiter Watch

More commonly known as Veterans Day in the United States and as Remembrance Day in Great Britain, many in the world peace movement prefer to remember November 11 as Armistice Day, a day that was to commemorate the end of war.

The day marks the armistice signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany at Compiègne, France, for the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front of World War I, which took effect at the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day and on the eleventh month,” in 1918. The WWI Christmas Truce, which centenary VFP plans to celebrate come December, happened in the first year of the war.

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Nicaragua Today

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Lifelong nonviolence practitioner tells his stories

David Hartsough book coverDavid Hartsough, co-founder of the Nonviolent Peaceforce, talks about his inspiring memoir, Waging Peace: Global Adventures of a Lifelong Nonviolent Activist (Oakland: PM Press, 2014).

Saturday, Oct. 18 • 7pm
Multnomah Friends Meeting
Sunday, Oct. 19 • 7pm
First Unitarian Church of Portland

Since meeting Martin Luther King in 1956 and working with the Civil Rights Movement in the south, Hartsough has over and over again found his way to exciting nonviolent direct actions all over the world. He has used his body to block Navy ships headed for Vietnam and trains loaded with munitions on their way to El Salvador and Nicaragua. He has crossed borders to meet “the enemy” in East Berlin, Castro’s Cuba, and present-day Iran. He has marched with mothers confronting a violent regime in Guatemala and stood with refugees threatened by death squads in the Philippines. Hartsough was a founder of Nuremberg Actions at Concord, California, and witnessed the events in which S. Brian Willson was run over by a US Navy munitions train during a publicized demonstration in 1987.

During the 1990s, Hartsough trained civilians in Kosovo how to use nonviolence to defend themselves in their struggle for justice. Inspired by those experiences, he began seeking partners to expand the defensive use of nonviolence more widely. By 2002, he had partnered with fellow nonviolent activist Mel Duncan to found the Nonviolent Peaceforce with the support of nonviolent leaders from 49 countries. The group’s first project began the next year in Sri Lanka.

Hartsough’s story demonstrates the power and effectiveness of organized nonviolent action. He shows how nonviolent struggle is being waged all over the world by ordinary people committed to ending the spiral of violence and war.

Hartsough’s book will be available for sale and signing at both book talks.

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THE GHOSTS OF TONKIN Comes to Portland

Ghosts of Tonkin very small imageSeptember 27 at 7:30pm
Lincoln Hall at Portland State University
Tickets: $20 available at the door, online, or by calling 503-725-3307

August 2014 marks the 50th anniversary of the Gulf of Tonkin resolution. Bellingham TheatreWorks is touring a 60-minute theatre piece called The Ghosts of Tonkin, a drama about Wayne Morse and the origins of the Vietnam War. The play premiers in Bellingham and then tours to Portland and Eugene.

This award-winning play dramatizes the behind-the-scenes story of how seemingly well-intentioned public officials brought about one of the most devastating chapters in the history of the United States: The Vietnam War. The Vietnam War devastated two countries, toppled the President of the United States, and killed two million people. And one man tried to stop it before it began, Oregon’s Senator Wayne Morse.

In 1964, Oregon’s Senator Wayne Morse was an outspoken critic of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution that authorized military intervention in Vietnam. Senator Morse was one of only two congressmen to vote against the resolution.

The Ghosts of Tonkin is based on telephone conversations, senate transcripts, recently declassified NSA documents, and other sources. In addition to Wayne Morse, characters include LBJ, Robert McNamara, Dean Rusk, William Fulbright, as well as several fictitious characters.

In August, 1964, our smoldering involvement in Vietnam was ignited into all out war when the North Vietnamese attacked a US destroyer in the Gulf of Tonkin. But it was later revealed that the alleged attack, in fact, never happened. When the Iraq War began, people drew an analogy between the genesis of that war, and the beginnings of the Vietnam War. This made playwright Steve Lyons curious to learn more about the origins of the Vietnam War. That curiosity led to Wayne Morse and to this script.

Every performance is followed by a post-play discussion. In Portland, the post-play discussion panel includes playwright Steve Lyons as well as Joe Smith, a former member of Morse’s staff. The panel also features Vietnam vet David Leverenz, who served on the destroyer Turner Joy. KBOO radio host Jo Ann Hardesty moderates the discussion.

More information at www.BellinghamTheatreWorks.org

The Ghosts of Tonkin is presented in association with the Wayne Morse Center of the University of Oregon.

 

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Nicaragua Today

Yellow school bus travels to July 19th celebration

Hop on the bus!

Join us for a very special event
September 7, 2014 – 3:00 PM

214 NE Thompson, Portland, Oregon

Click here to download flyer pdf.
Click here for fb event page.

How has Nicaragua managed to avoid the violent crime and grinding poverty that are driving the mass immigration of unaccompanied minors from neighboring Central American nations such as Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras to the U.S. border?

VFP72 members S. Brian Willson, Mike Hastie and Becky Luening traveled to Nicaragua (July 13-22) to help celebrate the 35th Anniversary of the 1979 victory of the revolution. They learned about some of the progress made by the Sandinista Government since reclaiming power in 2007 (after being voted out in 1990) as well as ongoing challenges the country faces. The three will share highlights of their trip along with a few photos and videos captured by Mike Hastie, followed by Q&A. Refreshments provided. Please join us!

SUGGESTED DONATION: Asking for $5 to $20 sliding scale to benefit VFP, but no will be turned away. Cosponsored by Occupy Portland Elder Caucus.

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Veterans Oppose Drums of War

News Conference/Action: Friday, June 27, 2014

For a PDF version of this press release, click here.

Time: 11 AM to 12 NOON
Place: Edith Green–Wendell Wyatt Federal Building, SW 3rd Avenue between Madison and Jefferson, Portland, Oregon

Veterans and their allies will hold a picket line and news conference opposing the renewed US military intervention in Iraq this Friday, June 27 from 11 am to Noon at Portland’s Federal Building at SW 3rd and Madison. Organized by Veterans for Peace Chapter 72, the speakers will include veterans of various wars making connections among the current US policies at home and abroad, past and present.

“We have bombed Iraq into a failed State and it is no surprise it is disintegrating before our War Foreign Policy Eyes,” said Daniel Shea, a US Marine Corps Vietnam Veteran. Veterans For Peace has a membership that spans the combat years of WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq and many interventions in between, so they know the monstrous face of war and the ugly truth, all wars were unnecessary.

Shea added: “Wars are the designs of empires and tyrants coveting land, minerals and power. The Empire sometimes wars to divide one people against the other least they unite and rebel against their masters and if they do rebel they must be severely punished. Iraq had been forced to surrender under the iron heel and to accept the cruel hands of a false Democracy but now has dared to rebel against our puppet Nouri al-Maliki. There is only one solution and it is an Iraqi solution: the U.S. must get out and stay out.”

The message for Friday’s action is clear: No More War! No More Dead & Wounded! Stop Wasting Lives for Lies and Care for the Veterans here and now!

The action is organized by VFP Chapter 72 with support from Iraq Veterans Against the War, Vietnam Veterans Against War, Military Families Speak Out, September 11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, Peace and Justice Works Iraq Affinity Group, Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility, and American Friends Service Committee. All are part of a community that supports peace and demand political not military solutions to resolving disputes and belligerent conflicts.

More info: Daniel Shea djshea@hotmail.com 503-750-7649

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Hats off to Ben Griffin and Veterans For Peace UK!

UK_picVery exciting to see this news story published May 31, 2014 on Mail Online, about the efforts of the Veterans For Peace UK chapter, under leadership of Ben Griffin: Soldiers secretly join pacifist group that forbids bearing arms in remarkable breach of military law

According to the article, VFP UK has 120 members. Speaking about the group’s “illegal” members (those still on active duty), Griffin is quoted in the article:

“These men have taken the brave step of joining us because they have come to the conclusion that war is not the answer to our problems.

“Given the issue with Queen’s Regulations and membership of political organizations we were not actively seeking to recruit serving troops. But we were not going to turn them away and will not do so in future.”

The group is refusing to disclose the names of those members.

 

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Full Disclosure Radiozine

Facilitated by community radio producer extraordinaire, Jimmy Tardy, a couple of our chapter’s Vietnam veterans have launched a special “radiozine” series on KBOO (90.7 FM). The two shows aired thus far are in the Vietnam: Full Disclosure vein. In a nutshell, this national VFP campaign is about offering an alternative, more honest commemoration of the American War in Vietnam in response to the US Department of Defense’s thirteen-year effort, kicked off in 2012, to mythologize and trumpet the Vietnam War as a noble cause, to culminate in 2025 with the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the end of that war!

Jimmy Tardy, Mike Hastie and S. Brian Willson have taken it upon themselves to bring some of the stories the DoD won’t be sharing, to listeners in Portland and around the globe, via KBOO community supported radio technology. And they’re off to a rocking start. (Descriptions below, by Tardy, are excerpted from the KBOO website.)

Kent State: May 4, 1970

Kent State: May 4, 1970

Full Disclosure: Joe Lewis | KBOO

This show, aired April 30, 2014, features a conversation with Kent State shootings survivor Joe Lewis. Joe was the closest shooting victim to the National Guard unit that opened fire on students protesting the announced expansion of the Vietnam War into Laos and Cambodia.

Full Disclosure: Larry Colburn | KBOO

Larry Colburn was one of the door gunners on Chief Warrant Officer Hugh Thompson’s helicopter when the three-man crew intervened in what may have been an everyday massacre by American troops in Vietnam, the one that occurred on March 16, 1970 in My Lai, Vietnam. When the American public, including new soldiers being sent to Vietnam, found out about My Lai after pictures of the aftermath were printed in Life magazine, it sparked such an outcry that many people feel it deserves a place as one of the nails in the coffin of the Vietnam War. In this segment, Jimmy Tardy, Brian Willson, and Mike Hastie talk with Larry Colburn about My Lai, what it represents, and what it felt like to be in the middle of this historic, heroic moment.

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A Memorable Memorial Day

Many many thanks to everyone who contributed to making VFP Chapter 72′s “People’s Peace Park Picnic” a great success. (Click here to view photo album.) ALL who turned out played a part, but we would like to take this opportunity to name a few names…

First of all, we want to thank all the musicians who came and contributed their fine voices to the cause of peace—Camilla Rose; Karyn Ann Patridge; George Neidhart (a.k.a. Grandpa Wally, a Korean vet who, besides being willing to come strum his banjo, also provided key encouragement and advice to organizers ahead of time); Larry Lotz; and our own Grant Remington, past president of VFP Chapter 72.

“Yesterday was among the best events we’ve hosted at the Park, and we’ve been doing it for seven years.  There was such a strong feeling of family, as well as of peace, and of all those we gathered to remember—and the musicians had a big part in creating and sustaining that sensation.”

—VFP Chapter 72 outgoing president Chris Knight

Love and gratitude to Portland artist Nancy Hiss and her husband Dan Berkman for chalking “Peace” in many languages around the Peace Memorial Park’s peace sign circle, a creative act which has become a Memorial Day tradition. (Thanks to the gods for bringing sunshine to the park to facilitate  the chalking as well as a really wonderful picnic atmosphere.)

Love and gratitude to Portland artist Sara Kirschenbaum for bringing her cool car and the book containing her 100 Letters for Peace project, for which her car serves as Letter #100.

Love and gratitude to Portland artist Carye Bye for mentioning the Peace Memorial Park in her Circle Portland edition of “Hidden Portland” guides.

We also want to acknowledge the VFP members who organized this first of what we hope may become an annual Peace Memorial park event: Becky Luening for the spark of an idea and for making the flyer and helping with promotion; Dan Shea for coordinating musicians and helping with social media outreach; Malcolm Chaddock for arranging for the generator, and generally making himself available to pick up the slack; Sarah Hobbs for inviting photographer Tyler Austin to the event; Chris Knight for providing and helping set up the sound system as well as canopy, tables, and chairs, and for managing all this during the event; and to Bob Projansky for creating and bringing a special sign to help explain the Peace Memorial Park’s raison d’être.

And MANY MANY THANKS to all the volunteers who have been turning out, month after month, to transform the park from an annual to perennial garden while keeping on top of the mulch, the weeds, the watering, etc. If you want to learn more about this special project of VFP Chapter 72, click here.

Organizers were pleased with the turnout, though modest, and in response to all the positive feedback, hope to build on this event for a second People’s Peace Park Picnic on Memorial Day 2015. (Promises have already been made to arrange for a porta-potty next year.)

Last but not least… Special thanks to the picknickers (you know who you are) who were moved to share personal stories and feelings at Monday’s gathering. We urge you all to continue to raise your voices to call out the true nature of war and to engage in creative actions that help foster movement toward peace and reconciliation, and greater recognition of our interdependence and common humanity.


YouTube videos captured by Dan Shea at the MEMORIAL DAY 2014 People’s Peace Park Picnic hosted by Veterans For Peace chapter 72. Musicians, artists, veterans and friends gathered to memorialize all victims of war, and raise our voices in songs of peace and healing in the spirit of the late great Pete Seeger.

 

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May 23 Guantánamo Day of Action

A 15-minute video produced by Joe Anybody and a small selection of photos by Daniel Webb document the May 23, 2014 Guantánamo rally held at Director Park in southwest Portland, Oregon. This is just one of the actions that took place in more than 40 cities on that Global Day of Action to Close Guantánamo. Marking one year after Obama said he was going to close the Naval detention center, protestors called on the prez to end indefinite detention, transfer the dozens of cleared detainees, and make good on his commitment to close the facility this year.

Singing in the Rain: Megan Harrington [photo by Daniel Webb]

Singing in the Rain: Megan Harrington
[photo by Daniel Webb]

The Portland action drew a small but scrappy crowd, despite steady rain. Cosponsors included Amnesty International, Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC), Veterans For Peace, and closegitmo.net. Megan Harrington of Amnesty International took the lead on pulling this action together; the response to her call was impressive considering the relatively short notice.

VFP72 members Malcolm and Sarah brought VFP flags to the event. Responding to a call from Mike Horner to help pick up signs, Becky stuck around for the rally and provided reinforcement for the singing/chanting led by Megan. Regulars from last year’s long-running Close Gitmo solidarity actions in front of City Hall turned out in force: Jimmy, Nan, Charles, Kevin, Mike and Tom. Among other familiar faces was Kelly Campbell from Oregon PSR, who joined in with her husband and son. The hour-long rally was witnessed by a huge group of elementary aged kids on a lunchtime break during their downtown field trip, as well as many passersby, some of whom stopped to capture pics or videos on their smartphones.

Below are words of the three songs/chants we cycled through, for future reference. You can also hear them in the background of Joe Anybody’s video (link above).

Songs for May 23rd Director Park Rally

[1]
“We Who Believe in Freedom
We who believe in freedom cannot rest,
We who believe in freedom
cannot rest until it comes!
We gotta close Guantánamo today.
We gotta close Guantánamo today.
Stop torture now!”

[2]
“Our brothers on a hunger, hunger strike
Can’t let them, let them, let them die
If we do then we lose our dignity
America stand up and sing with me!”

[3]
“We’re gonna have a nation
that don’t torture no one,
but it’s gonna take courage
for that change to come.”

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