Memorializing Peace

Thoughts from May 28.

Consider joining the Poor People’s Campaign, supported by Vets for Peace.  In Minnesota, there is a rally at the Minnesota State Capitol today, Tuesday afternoon May 29, 5 p.m..  Details here.  For the event in your area, simply enter your zip code.

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For a lot of years I’ve attended the annual Memorial Day program of the Veterans for Peace at the Minnesota Vietnam Memorial on the State Capitol grounds.

It is always impressive, as it was again this year.  We are folks who have served, many who’ve seen war up close and personal, or know comrades who have, and who know war is not glamorous, nor the desirable option for resolving problems, however righteous it might seem.

Each year people in attendance are invited to speak, and so it was today.  A gentleman, 91, from WWII era (below), remembered someone from even earlier in his life.  Someone else read a poem, so on.  Sr. Brigid McDonald sang the song “Patriot Game”*, and on and on for an hour and a half.   It was a very hot day, but no one left.  It was inspiring.  No guns….  Talk of Peace, not of horrors of War.

Vets for Peace, St. Paul, May 28, 2018

Before leaving the grounds, I took a walk over the to stone “garden” between the Veterans Service Building and the National Guard Armory across Cedar.

At this garden, each county in Minnesota is represented by one boulder, and on each boulder is a portion of one letter to or from someone at war.  Individually and collectively they elicit thoughts and feelings.  The garden is worth a reflective visit.

Today a Native American veteran from the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate, a platoon leader in Vietnam, spoke powerfully about the reality of war.  Behind him, about the time he spoke, a group of people who appeared to be Native American gathered at the Vietnam Wall, remembering people on the wall.

Vietnam Memorial St. Paul, MN State Capitol Grounds, May 28, 2018

“We were young.  We have died.  Remember us.”  The words say it all.

Mark your calendar for August 23-26 in the Twin Cities, and find ways to participate in the National Conference of the Veterans for Peace, hosted by VFP Chapter 27.

* A rendition of the song Patriot Game, here.

At the memorial garden on Minnesota State Capitol grounds May 28, 2018

Dwight Eisenhower, as quoted in Just Above Sunset “Not Just embarrassing“: “I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity.”  At the Canadian Club in Ottawa Jan. 10, 1946, from the War/Defense quotes from the Eisenhower Presidential Library.

1 reply
  1. Eileen Jerome
    Eileen Jerome says:

    Thank you for the thoughtful post. Especially for Liam Clancy’s song. I wish I had something profound to add. I offer deep respect and a blended knee to all who have served.

    Reply

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