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: Bath, Maine, United States

Monday, May 26, 2014

INSIDE THE MEMORIAL DAY PARADE

MB and I carrying our conversion banner just as the Memorial Day parade got going today from Topsham to BrunswickWe were at the tail end of the peacenik delegation in the parade.

Before the parade started a photo with fellow VFP member George Goodwin



Today about 25 folks from Maine Veterans for Peace (VFP) and the Brunswick-area group PeaceWorks lined up in Topsham, Maine for the annual Memorial Day parade that ends in the next town of Brunswick.  Along the way thousands were on the sidewalks to watch the show.

Each year we dress in black, carry banners with the group names, and lots of the white VFP flags.  This year MB and I were at the tail end of our group carrying the new banner made by Maine artists that calls for conversion of the war economy.

VFP member Doug Rawlings wrote today about the parade, "Our presence was met with muted applause from some, enthusiastic applause from others, and some turned backs from others."

I saw two people turn away as we passed by and heard one woman say "Support the troops".  Other than that I heard no overt negative reactions against us.  Not everyone loved us - but we saw legions of people along the way reading the words on the conversion banner.   Some looked a bit stunned but many got the message and a good number of them gave us a thumbs up or a peace sign.

It was bit unusual to be carrying a banner calling for conversion of the war economy in this nationalistic parade but it is the kind of thing we need to do if we are ever going to successfully have a real dialogue across the nation about our addiction to military spending and war.

One woman in particular caught my attention as she sort of secretly flashed us a positive wave and a guarded smile.  She obviously wanted to show her approval but was also very concerned about being too demonstrative, not wanting to stand out in the crowd.  I believe that being in the parade helps open the door for others to feel safe to question the prevailing authority around the war and peace issue.

George Goodwin, in the photo above, was a career Navy man and is a long-time VFP member.  He carried one of the white flags today and walked in front of us.  At one point he turned to me and said, "We've got to stop doing these damn parades, but we've got to end war first."  He sure is right about that.

But how do we end war unless the peace community, and our many allies, talk more about jobs.  The military industrial complex has us all over the barrel because any threats to cut the Pentagon budget are met with fear and silence about the waste and immorality of war.... resulting in domestic political inaction.

My feelings about the largely working class crowd today is they are afraid.  They know that solar, wind, rail make more sense than endless war but they don't see how anything will ever change.  So they support the one government agency that gives their kids jobs - the military.  Sure they get killed and are deeply emotionally wounded by war trauma.  But what is anyone else offering them these days so they can feed their families and have some kind of a future?

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Blogger Bekah Cougle said...

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5/27/14, 8:13 AM  

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