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 MARCH 20th EVENT NEWS

MARCH 20, 2004 NEWS FROM MARCH & RALLY
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" America, my wish today, this first day of spring, is for a seed to be planted in every child's heart, a seed that produces courage to walk unarmed and refuse to hate and kill.  A seed that will flower and bloom as wars and guns and hatred are buried forever."  Peggy Tuxen-Akers, Veteran

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Taking a Stand for Peace in Lansing

 Kathie Kuhn

On March 20th, over 550 people came together in Lansing -including some 200 from Detroit- to make a non-violent stand against war and occupation.  The event, a year to the day from the beginning of the last intensification of the 13 year long war against the people of Iraq, was in tandem with 100’s of other similar events taking place in over 50 countries and including at least 250 in the U.S. alone.  Over 100,000 people marched in New York City, spanning 45 blocks.  Organizing groups include ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and Racism): www.internationalanswer.org, and the Greater Lansing Network Against War and Injustice (GLNAWI):www.peaceforiraq.org .

 

 The two marches in Lansing merged at the State Capitol: one, (Direct Action!) without a permit, that took over Michigan Avenue with about 110 people; and the other, (GLNAWI): a permitted march that stopped at the 9-11 memorial for a moment of silence, leaving a wreath in the shape of a peace symbol. Both marches included drumming, chants, and a joyful sense of strength and solidarity.  Speakers at the steps of the Capitol included Representative Reverend Michael Murphy, Abayomi Azikiwe: Michigan Emergency Commission Against War and Injustice (MECAWI)  in Detroit, Arnold Stieber: Veterans for Peace,  singer Pat Madden-Roth and representatives of Greater Lansing Youth For Peace and Justice,  Direct Action!, and GLNAWI, and myself alongside three amazing drummers from Sankofa Shule.  Energy and hopes remained high even through the brief but cold rain.

 

Following the rally, about 160 people walked the block to Lansing Community College to take part in a series of educational workshops.  Many, many topics were discussed including:  the USA Patriot Act, economic costs of war, effects of globalization, U.S. involvements in Haiti, Iraq, Palestine, Columbia, Afghanistan, Cuba, Korea & Vietnam, U.S. military recruitment of youth, women activists, U.S. weapons of mass destruction, and the Free Trade Area of the Americas ministerial meeting in Miami, resulting protests, and the chilling accounts of police violence that happened there. Children worked on music and creative art projects expressing visions of peace. The day ended with a group forum focused on state-wide organizing esp. in regards to the next presidential (s)election ( i.e. electronic voting) and the need for peaceful solutions to global conflicts.  A decision was made to claim the Mackinac Bridge annual walk/run on Labor Day as a ‘bridge over troubled waters’ peace event.

 

So what does it all mean?  Did George and friends notice the pleas for peace coming from around the world, take heart, and decide to lead this country to a place of healing and creation, vs. hurting and destruction?  To spend our resources on the needs of the people, rather than on corporate gains and the military industrial complex?  To decide that war really does cost too much, not only economically,  but in the immeasurable cost of the 10,000 deaths of Iraqi civilians in the last year… the nearing 600 American soldiers lost there…all the wounded…the loved ones left behind… the unborn victims of our depleted uranium (nuclear waste) ammunitions that remain radioactive for billions of years (www.cadu.org.uk) that our military has scattered in Iraq, Afghanistan and Yugoslavia… and that has also claimed the lives of  10,000-12,000 American Gulf War Veterans already, and landed 300,000 on disability? Stop building new nuclear bombs?  End 'star wars'?  Will Bush and company at the very least decide to stop cutting veteran’s benefits???  I admit I have my doubts.  However, my hopes rest more-so in the people, and not the people in power, anyway. Someone, somewhere said that you cannot have a war if the soldiers refuse to fight, and they are right. “If you have to hurt someone to solve the problem, than you are the problem.” (Arnold Stieber)

VIETNAM VETERAN - SPEAKING MARCH 20th - WASHINGTON D.C.

Thank you everyone for being here today, this beautiful day, this first day of spring.
America, look at us. Look at all of us. Your being here today is a courageous gift to every American soldier, to every Iraqi child, whose mothers and fathers have the same dreams and passionate yearnings for their children as we have for all our children in this country.
America, do not tell us we are not patriotic.
America, do not tell us we do not care.

It is because we do care so deeply for the future of our world, for all of the children all over the world, that we are here today.

Veterans often feel a little crazy, clinging to the truths of their war experience of so many years ago. We have a very special responsibility to tell others what we learned in war, and what we saw there. We are a part of the conscience of this country, and we must continue to tell America that war is wrong.

What I learned in Viet Nam was that life was so painfully real. It seemed so plain and simple, the suffering of others was real, and the maimed remain maimed, and the dead forever dead. And I learned that war, no matter how necessary or justified by our government, is immoral. And I learned that our terrible and powerful American wisdom is engraved over 58,000 times on the face of the Viet Nam Memorial in Washington, and now on the 576 crosses here before you today.

I wonder today still if the President and Congress and the American people, if they could have been with me the night a landing zone was overrun, and I carefully and sadly and incredibly painfully put one young son in a body bag to be sent home to America.   I wonder if they could have touched their young hands and stroked their young faces and said goodbye as I did if they would have ever have allowed this to
happen again.  And I wonder if they had to send their young sons and
daughters first, if there ever would have been this war.

America, I was your daughter.

Dear America,

Remember me?

I was the girl next door.

Remember when I was 13, America, and rode on top of the fire engine in the Memorial Day parade? I'd won an essay contest on what it meant to be a proud American.

And it was always me, America, the cheerleader, the Girl Scout, who marched in front of the high school band . . . carrying our flag . . .the tallest . . . the proudest . . .

And remember, America, you gave me the Daughters of the American
Revolution Good Citizen Award for patriotism, and I was only sixteen.

And then you sent me to war, America, along with thousands of other men
and women who loved you.

It's Memorial Day, America. Do you hear the flags snapping in the wind?  There's a big sale at Macy's, and there's a big parade in Washington for the veterans.

But it's not the American flag or the sound of drums I hear - I hear a helicopter coming in - I smell the burning of human flesh. It's Thomas, America, the young Black kid from Atlanta, my patient, burned by an exploding gas tank. I remember how his courage kept him alive that day, America, and I clung to his only finger and whispered over and over again how proud you were of him, America - and he died.

And Pham. He was only eight, America, and you sprayed him with napalm and his skin fell off in my hands and he screamed as I tried to comfort him.

And America, what did you do with Robbie, the young kid I sat next to on the plane to Viet Nam? His friends told me a piece of shrapnel ripped through his young heart - he was only seventeen - it was his first time away from home. What did you tell his mother and father, America?

Hold us America . . .

Hold all your children America.  Allen will never hold anyone again.  He
left both his arms and legs back there. He left them for you, America.

America, you never told me that I'd have to put so many of your sons,
the boys next door, in body bags.

You never told me . . .

America, we have sent another generation of children to see life through
an M-16 and death through the darkness of a body bag.

America, my wish today, this first day of spring, is for a seed to be planted in every child's heart, a seed that produces courage to walk unarmed and refuse to hate and kill.  A seed that will flower and bloom as wars and guns and hatred are
buried forever.

Thank you.

Peggy Tuxen-Akers (kizzypax@maine.rr.com <mailto:kizzypax@maine.rr.com>)
Viet Nam 1970-1971

http://www.commondreams.org/views04/0323-12.htm