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

I grew up in a military family and joined the Air Force in 1971 during the Vietnam War. It was there that I became a peace activist.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Memorial day: End all the wars

These Veterans Have a Different Message on Memorial Day. Produced by Chris Smiley

Swords to Plowshares Bell tower interactive memorial can be seen next to the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC this holiday weekend and around the country throughout the year delivering it's message. A project of Veterans For Peace.
We had about 13 of us in the Topsham to Brunswick memorial day parade that began (late as usual) this morning at 9:30 am. Carrying the banners of our local group PeaceWorks and Maine Veterans For Peace we arrived at our appointed spot at 7:45 am as instructed.  The police closed the road down at 8:00 am and then we stood around for the next 90 minutes in the cold morning air.

Finally the march began with our slot (#'s 43 & 44) near the end of the long parade.  Behind us were two local Republicans carrying their banner and then several fire trucks.  So clearly the peaceniks were shunted to the end of the line.

The crowd was fairly thick this year throughout the parade route.  People would often clap for the PeaceWorks and VFP banners but then Mary Beth and I were in the rear of our group carrying our 'Convert the war economy' banner and we got some cold stares as we marched along.  (It's to be expected in a community that is addicted to military production.)  Now and then someone would say something nice and we got some favorable nods from folks who were not eager to be noticed by being too demonstrative.

MB and I in past years at the end of our peace delegation in the Topsham-Brunswick memorial day parade.  We carried the same banner again today.  Not everyone appreciated it.

All in all its a journey through the hard core working class looking for some free entertainment on a holiday weekend.  Many of them liked the two Republicans behind us so that gives you an idea where they were coming from.  Lots of Navy baseball caps were seen in the crowd and many veteran scrambled egg hats were visible as well.

So while the memorial day parade is not 'fun' - as an organizer whose job it is to reach beyond the choir - being in the parade gave us a chance to make our point to people that we don't normally have contact with.  It is also a way to reinforce the good spirit in the few diamonds in the rough that we saw along the march route.

My only real complaint from the day was why can't the marching bands from local public and church schools learn a few new songs besides 'Anchors away' and 'The Halls of Montezuma'?



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