Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Brunswick, Maine, United States

I'm back to work for the Global Network. Will continue to help Lisa Savage for US Senate campaign on my free time. Trying to self-isolate as much as possible. Best wishes and good luck to you all.

Monday, May 30, 2005

MEMORIAL DAY PARADE - VETS & BEAUTY QUEENS

Our Maine Veterans for Peace chapter was in the Brunswick memorial day parade this morning. It is said the parade was the largest in the state. Some of our group of thirty pushed a float with 800 crosses, the number of GI's killed in Iraq at this time last year. On the front of the float was a large sign saying the number was now over 1,600 GI's killed in Iraq. Behind the float was a large banner listing the number of GI's killed in Korea (Korean war was the theme for the parade today). The banner also listed the number of innocent civilians killed during the Korean war. Then behind that was a banner that took up both lanes of the road as we marched through the neighboring town of Topsham, over the bridge, into Brunswick. This banner listed all the military and civilian war dead from WW I until 2004. And then finishing up our group I helped carry a large banner that said "Abolish War" on it.

The response was interesting. A bit of applause now and then as we walked along, but many who clapped were timid as they did it, almost like it was an illegal act to do so. Then there were others who didn't clap but who would flash us a look with their eyes to say they agreed. Still others made a slow easy nod of the head, very discreet. I saw two men turn their backs on us as we went by and I heard one man yell out something about the Taliban while another called us "hippies".

Mostly the crowd was in stunned silence by our Veterans for Peace display. I at times felt like I was marching through the Confederate south during the early 1860's with a banner that said "Abolish Slavery." The concept is just far from people's comprehension, they have been well trained to see war as a noble endeavor. Obviously, that is what this parade is for.

Behind us in the parade were a small group of young girls doing cheerleading exercises with blaring music coming from their lead car. And behind them were the lovely young women contestants in the Miss Maine pageant -- all dressed in sexy clothes with fancy spring hats while sitting on the back seat of convertible cars. They waved to the crowds on the street and you could see people's relief when they came along. Here was something that many folks could understand on this memorial day. Cheerleading and beauty queens. Now that is more like America than these veterans reminding people about the atrocities of war.

I felt such pride in our Veterans for Peace chapter. Time after time here in Maine we keep finding a way to place ourselves in these parades and other settings that promote war. World War II, Korean war, Vietnam vets, and our new member who served in Afghanistan. It is truly a great bunch of men and women.

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