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Commentary :: War and Militarism
War And Remembrance- A Boston Veterans For Peace Memorial Day Observance-May 30, 2011
31 May 2011
One Veteran's View Of The Boston Veterans For Peace Memorial Day Remembrance -May 30, 2011
<b>Memorial Day for Peace

When: Monday, May 30, 2011, 1:00 pm
Where: Christopher Columbus Park • Atlantic Ave. at Long Wharf • Aquarium T • Boston

Start: 2011 May 30 - 1:00pm</b>

Please join Veterans For Peace, Military Families Speak Out, United for Justice with Peace, Gold Star Families for Peace and the American Friends Service Committee for a ceremony for Peace on Memorial Day.

Speakers to include:
John Schuchardt – House of Peace, Ipswich, MA

Ross Caputi – Marine veteran of the Iraq War (2003 – 2006)
President of Boston University Anti-War Coalition

Kevin & Joyce Lucey, parents of Corporal Jeffrey Lucey, U.S. M.C.

Melida & Carlos Arredondo, Gold Star Families for Peace, parents of Marine Lance Corporal Alex Arredondo U.S,M.C.

Oday Mahmood & Ayfer AbedAljibar– Iraqi Refugees – Will speak on behalf of the new Iraqi community here in Massachusetts.

James Vanloy – Poet

John Olivere – Singer Songwriter
*******
Fritz, old battle-scarred and battle-weary purple-hearted Fritz Taylor, Vietnam, 1969-1971, Fritz John Taylor, RA048433691 to be exact, had to laugh as he made his way from Adamsville to the downtown Boston waterfront. To the green jut of land Christopher Columbus Park (and that name, causing further bemusement when he first heard the locale, could itself tell a big story about the old days European-centered military adventures to the Americas)for what he was not sure, exactly, was either the third or fourth annual Veterans For Peace counter-Memorial Day commemoration (really counter-traditional observance).

Fritz had not laughed a funny laugh as he was prone to do these days when something struck him as unusual, but laughed out loud at the thought of a no-go, not even boot camp as far as he knew, commander-in chief of all the American imperial armed forces , United States President Barack Obama, suddenly warming up to his post-Osama Bin Laden kill authorization (after having , vicariously, watched the SEAL action in “real time”) very consciously earlier this day placing himself at the center of the Memorial Day action in Arlington National Cemetery trying to draw succor from the ghost of Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg. Talking aimlessly, or maybe better superficially, about valor, about the good of the cause, about the last full measure of devotion, and lastly, what war in the end is all about, saving your buddy’s ass, or he yours.

But see, to Fritz’s way of thinking, Lincoln at least had the advantage, the very distinct advantage, of not only having said those kinds of words and those kinds of sentiments first and therefore in a more free-lance, free-wheeling eloquent way but said them at humankind's hallowed Gettysburg in the wake of what turned out to the decisive great Northern victory (along with Grant’s Vicksburg victory) in a war, that by hook or by crook, turned chattel slavery times out the door.

What could one imperial chief, Barack Obama, today draw on for succor? Leading a 50,000 troop wind-down in Iraq, a thoughtlessly unjust war if there ever was one, with more than its fair share of collateral damage, read American troop-driven civilian killings, and to call it by its right name murder. Yes, yes, by all means Fritz Taylor knew, knew chapter and verse, that when it did not really count one non-president Barack Obama opposed George’s Follies but that was then, and this, this was desperately now with the latest headlines out of Baghdad announcing a 200,000 mass march calling for an American withdrawal post-haste. And Fritz Taylor, Fritz Taylor who had gotten “religion” on the subject of war, on collateral damage, on don’t give a damn about spent soldiers’ lives since those lost Vietnam days, lost in some drug addiction time, some newspaper-strewn park bench time, some lost family connection time, took a moment to reflect on that fact, and to murmur softly to himself- Obama, Mr. President, since Fritz is putting things in a more kindly fashion now- get the hell out of Iraq, completely out, and stay out.

And Fritz had to laugh, and the nature of that laugh need not be repeated here, about how big bad Barrack Obama, whom almost every non-veteran of any battle, except maybe the battle for the Democratic nomination for President in 2008, or of the bar stool in some ill-lit barroom but those don’t count in real battle scars world, has been touting as some kind of Gandhian pacifist while constantly upping the ante in Afghanistan since about day one of his administration, the troop commitment ante, the one that really counts. And making that ill-conceived policy the lynch-pin for his whole world-wide war strategy, with no serious end date in sight (and no congressional oversight to stop him, according to a recent vote on the question of war budget authorizations-the real deal when it comes to war policy).

Fritz’s thoughts just then as well dwelled on the more recent, the more off-hand stuff, the several hundred drones attacks in Pakistan, the few thousand, give or take, cruise missiles (oops, that’s a NATO operation, he forgot, sorry) in Libya and the general policeman of the world carrying a big stick, a very big stick indeed, in the rest of the world. So he felt compelled to murmur under his breathe, no really curse under his breathe, Mr. President, Fritz still being the soul of politeness these days, these got anti-war “religion,” drug- free, alcohol-free, stable home under his feet days, get the hell out of Afghanistan and stay out. And while you are at it, Mr. Obama, keep American hands off, way off the rest of the world, as he then saw the first of several white dove on black background Veterans for Peace (VFP) flags flying in the wind down near the ferry docks adjacent to this Columbus honor park.

And while a moment ago he raged with grievous anger at the American imperial state and its two-bit sheriff (oops, sorry again, President) he felt calmer, as he always felt calmer, when he spied the white-doved, black-background flags because that meant kindred, mainly Vietnam-era kindred but sprinkles of others as well. Guys, mostly, and a few women as well, now graying guys, seriously graying guys, now walking a little more haltingly due to life’s toll, now maybe not in that tip-top shape that made them prime Grade A cannon fodder back in the days, who had been through battles, real battles and post-war battles, some of them anyway just like him, whom he always argued had more than enough “cred” when anti-war talk time came around. And others, other anti-warriors, who only credentials were some well-written papers, some well-spoken speech, or a safely-protected street march in some big or middle-sized American city or town who knew, knew deep in their hearts that Fritz’s point was true. And they were deferential, sometimes just a little too paternally or maternally deferential, when the big brassy white flag-draped veterans came marching their way.

Oh sure, this third (or was it fourth) commemoration was not well-attended, maybe a hundred, not the thousands standing on those big and mid-sized city and town street corners, or walking past those benighted American flag-bedecked blessed sweet good night grave sites with their complements of still-grieving kin, but this place, this momentarily hallowed anti-war place is not measured by numbers this day but by remembrance, hard-earned remembrance, hard-earned rage against the night cannon fodder-used and folly remembrance. And, oh sure, the speeches, the speeches by those graying activists, with just the barest sprinkle of newer Iraq and Afghanistan era veterans, were directed at that hundred angel choir of kindred. And Fritz, having heard every anti-war argument before, having heard every political prisoner Private Bradley Manning story before, having heard about the collateral damage, foreign division, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Palestine, civilian horror story before; and every collateral damage, domestic division, devastated military families story before still drank in the words. And said his fair share of old-time protest “right on,” brother, or sister. And yelled loudly and proudly, “Free Bradley Manning.” Yes, these days Bradley Manning’s fight is us, our younger fighting spirit us. The torch has now been passed to the new guys, and the couple of hours as well. Fritz Taylor just for that moment felt ten feet tall for having made this day’s journey. He was charged-up again.

On the way home, or rather on the way to meet, over near the Adamsville River, his better other, Lillian, his “sweet pea” he had named her for her sunny disposition, and her tough determination to give him a home to feel planted in and, early on, a little anti-war “religion” bump start too he passed, as thinking about it later he should have expected, a very different Memorial Day celebration sponsored by the Adamsville Veterans Of Foreign Wars (VFW). Before he got “religion” he had spent many a cheap drinks drinking hour at that same VFW hall, or the American Legion hall farther up the street, and had thought nothing of retelling many bar stool battle stories to anyone who would listen. And listen they did because Fritz had another kind of “cred” in those days, battle-tested credentials, as against the state-side duty and or rear area supply sergeants that populate these VFW and American Legion barrooms.

But right now he was chagrined at this tactless “celebration” going on before his eyes, complete with family-friendly barbecue, pony rides and merry-go-round for the kids, and more thoughtless, neglected and discarded American flags than one could shake a stick at. Those quickly passed scenes momentarily brought back to Fritz’s mind ancient unhealed, unheal-able, wounds, and ancient, also unheal-able, angers as well. What was not ancient, although also unheal-able, was when, as he quietly passed by, some long-in-the-tooth ex- supply sergeant VFW honcho noticed Fritz’s still shirt-pinned buttons calling for Obamian troop withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan and freedom for Private Bradley Manning and called him a “commie”. Fritz thought, jesus, where has this guy been but he also reflected, especially seeing the kids unconsciously drink in the warrior atmospherics that went with this celebration, that charged-up or not, he still had a hell of a lot of work to do. A hell of a lot.

This work is in the public domain
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