Friday, May 22, 2015

Memorial Day seized for peace

Remember Armistice Day? No, of course not; it was hijacked by the militarists and transmogrified into Veterans Day. A peace holiday stolen and flipped to war.

Remember Mothers Day, the day when, in 1872, Julia Ward Howe issued a proclamation, an appeal, to all mothers of the world? Now, instead of the radical peace holiday of its origins, we find it a sentimental Hallmark holiday, free of all thought except thanks, Mom, for sacrificing your full humanity so you could enable your sons to achieve their dreams. 'Preciate it.

OK, fine. Thirty years ago, some of us decided to make a move the other way. We chose Memorial Day in 1985 as a day of nonviolent resistance to militarism, and as a day to memorialize past, current, and future civilian victims of war. Yes, civilians. Remember them, war hawks? They are forgotten on all your war days, even though the vast majority of those who die at the hands of warriors are not, in fact, other warriors, they are civilians.

We did our commemoration at a thermonuclear command center in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, a facility opposed, in counted official referenda votes, by more than 80 percent of the citizens of the UP. It was linked to another command center in Wisconsin, where the overwhelming majority of citizens and their elected officials also opposed that facility. Further, just three years prior, in the largest exercise of direct democracy in US history, the citizenry of almost half the states--every state except one (Arizona) in which the issue could be on the ballot--voted overwhelmingly to call for a nuclear freeze.
The original transmitter in Wisconsin linked by underground cable to the Michigan site.

Democracy had spoken; the Pentagon and President Reagan flouted that voice of the people, so we did our level best to act in nonviolent resistance to the anti-democratic nature of our own military and Commander-in-Chief. Four were arrested in nonviolent blockade of the military base. I went out with some hand tools, dismantled a portion of the command center, and turned myself in at the sheriff's office the next morning (had to enjoy some last pizza and beer with peace buddies before going to prison for an indeterminate period of time).

Does it get any more sentimental than that? Memorial Day 2015 is my personal 30th anniversary of my First Felony for Peace celebration. This time I'll have pizza with some peace families and enjoy my role as peace grandpa.

My country claims to be spreading democracy. But it takes all of us, on the ground, in civil society, to reify that, to renew it, to make sure that we practice what we preach, and we stop regarding war and warriors and bombs and guns as tools of democracy. The best tools are the nonviolent actions and commitments from our people.

We see the results here and abroad. Our violence, our bombs, our warriors, have produced ISIS. The harder we act, the more we kill, the greater the pushback. It took the lying, rogue Bush regime and the mighty American military killing enormous numbers of Muslims to bring back a caliphate, and yet the call is for more bombing, ground troops, more expense and destruction. Perhaps it's time to try a new path that might actually work. I am sick of Memorial Day glorifying war and honoring those who kill. They are killing noncombatants and turning even more noncombatants into violent insurgents. Time for more Peace Memorials and no more war memorials.

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