Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Monday, April 28, 2008
We rushed, got lost, but luckily the helicopter was late, too. Whereas past Beach Impeach events had an honest 1,000 and more attendees, this one had only about 300; due in part, no doubt, to the event's having been cancelled, then brought back to life. I've learned from experience that within 24 hours after word goes out an event is cancelled, most people will already have made other plans.
I didn't realize the Beach Impeach organizers had decided to spell just 1 or 2 letters at a time, I only saw that the "E" was empty, so I decided to fill it with crosses and 4 of the blue "War is Not the Answer" yard signs I agreed to distribute for the Friends Committee For National Legislation (a Quaker Lobby in the Public Interest http://www.fcnl.org/index.htm). Someone asked if I needed help, so I took his offer and we carried the "Thanks Vets and Families" sign down to the beach and used it to anchor the end of the center branch of the letter "E".
My sons and I joined the others standing in the form of one letter after another as the helicopter made loop after loop so the photograher could get the photos he needs. (Must've cost a small fortune to fuel the chopper) I, M, P... then we ran to the E and many folks chose to hold us the crosses. I kind of doubt they'll show up in the aerial photos, but they were still quite a hit. Several found new homes -- I didn't keep count. Ironically, Beach Impeach's webmaster, Steve Meiers, said he'd come up with an idea similar to ours and had independently placed a couple of white crosses in his yard after he heard about the Crosses of Lafayette.
After we finished spelling "IMPEACH BOTH!!", I left the crosses in the sand around the "Thanks Vets..." sign. Several photographers and videographers said the took pictures of the display. I know Shirley Golub was photographed, so we may see it soon at http://www.shirley08.com/ or maybe even "YouTube.
Saturday, December 8, 2007
Since Dan Judge's article appeared in the Vallejo Times-Herald (2 blogs down), we've distributed even MORE Crosses4Peace. I believe the number is approaching 280.
I heard from a delightfully vociferous Vallejo woman who's son(-in-law) was beginning his 3rd tour as a Marine, serving in Iraq. As you may know, the Marines asked to be moved to Afghanistan, but their request was denied by Defense Secretary, Gates. (cite below) She wanted to make it abundantly clear that she supported the troops 110% and she opposed the war just as much. But she NEVER, EVER wanted to see some of our country's greatest, bravest kids being treated as they were on returning from Viet Nam. I'm not quite old enough to remember, but I know a little about history and I couldn't agree with her more. She gave me permission to post this photo. She's, too, is an amazingly courageous lady. I'm beginning to believe the good guys are going to win, here, in America.
One quiet Sunday morning, I heard from Loana, who'd seen the article while visiting the Bay Area. She didn't have time to read it, so she stashed it in her suitcase to read when she returned to Louisiana. She called me to say she was going to build her own Cross4Peace. I told her about the directions on the main website, http://www.crosses4peace.org/. John's design works very well. It's a model of efficient engineering, particularly the pointed bottom that makes it easy for anyone with water and dirt to plant.
I want to officially offer my gratitude to Derek Cathron and his family and to every family grieving for a loved one lost in Iraq or Afghanistan. I will remember.
I want to offer my deepest condolence and sympathy to every family who lost an innocent relative or friend and to every person who’s lost his home and some sense of his dignity and security to these many conflicts in the Middle East.
I want to thank and support the wounded warriors like my friend’s brother (I don’t have permission yet to publish his name). He was wounded in Iraq, including injuries to his head. At some point during the military triage process, he said he was ambulatory, i.e. he could move and bath himself, etc. After all, many around him had lost legs or arms as he was not inclined to take scarce, but vital services away from his brothers and sisters in arms. He ended up in a large room where soldiers like him who had working limbs, were caring for others who had somehow claimed mobility, but couldn’t feed or get themselves to a bathroom. My friend, who’s seen plenty of ugliness right here, fights not to cry when she remembers how her brother was treated when he was most vulnerable. All he had was his family and his http://www.woundedwarriorproject.org/ backpack. He clung to that backpack, she told me, like life itself. It had clean clothes, a calling card, a toothbrush and a cd player for company. I want to thank all you wounded warriors, and your families. I wish you all the fullest and fastest recoveries possible. May you always be remembered as the heroes you are.
I want to apologize to the people who have been unjustly imprisoned and tortured by our government and to their loved ones who must be tormented by not knowing, but imagining the worst. Too many of those who’ve had atrocities committed against them in our name were innocent. Some of them are still locked up in places like Guantanamo and other secret prisons around the world. I want you to know, many people are trying to stop this evil. We won’t forget. Torture is not about intelligence, it’s about control.
I want to thank and support the servicemen and women who are still there and those who are finally home safely. Whatever you’ve endured, I know you went there to do good and I’ll bet you did every chance you got. The Bible says there’s a time for war and a time for peace. I sincerely wish you less war and more peace. I can only offer you my respect, my gratitude and my tangible support. These organizations help me show my appreciation: http://www.anysoldier.com/ and http://www.votevets.org/
Finally, among the cornucopia of peace workers in the world is a particularly courageous, steadfast and INFORMATIVE group, the Friends’ Committee for National Legislation. http://www.fcnl.org/index.htm They provide information on military alternatives, how to become a conscientious objector, withholding taxes and other milder forms of protest like “Peace” bumper stickers and “War is not the Answer” yard signs. No matter how loudly the sabers rattled, the Friends (Quakers) have stood for peace and justice. Many folks ask “What Would Jesus Do?”. Too few do it.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
As you can imagine, most people were pretty excited and gave honks of support, waves, peace signs and the like. As you can also imagine, not everyone was so pleased. A passenger who was stopped at the light yelled "How dare you?! They died for your right to do that!" I replied he was correct and that just as my grandfather had fought against facism on the beaches of Normandy, I was fighting against it here.
Nevertheless, his reminder was timely. On November 10, 2007 I remembered what he said: "They died for your right to do that!". So, on Sunday, 11-11-07, I left the Crosses4Peace and "War is not the Answer" signs (provided by Friends Committee for National Legislation [FCNL]) at home. I made it to the "live blog site" at 1:00. Old Glory flew high and proud that day. I carried a smaller flag behind my billboard which read simply "Thanks Vets & Families". This day wasn't about hawks or doves (or even vultures with no bid contracts). It was about Americans, gratitude, respect and human decency.
I was apprehensive when the Wal-mart truck driver pulled over. Was he just checking some mechanical whatchamacallit or would he come to talk to me? Most people who stop usually say something kind, whereas harsh words are hollered from the safety of a car's interior, but I have been confronted personally before... so you never can tell. He was REALLY big and his black t-shirt proclaimed he was an "American Trucker". He extended a closed black-gloved paw (it was HUGE!). In my mind, I thought, I can't believe this big man is going to hit (li'l ole) me without even saying anything and I imagined what it would feel like when his fist met my face. That's when he opened his hand and gave me the firmest, yet warmest hand shake I've ever had. He said he wanted to thank me. Fortunately, I was standing uphill from him so I could see the sincerity in his light blue eyes. The repressed fear and emotion of the moment began leaking from my eyes. I was glad I was wearing sunglasses.
"Are you a Vet?," I inquired.
He said, "Yes."
I gauged his age. "Desert Storm?"
Still holding my hand, he nodded.
"I'm glad you're back." I said
"Thank you." He said, then turned to go. I blew him a kiss before as he merged into traffic.
It's ironic. I felt so vulnerable alone on the hill when he first came to me, but because of the warmth of his grip and the vulnerability behind his eyes, I stayed twice as long as I'd planned. I'd gone to make other people feel appreciated and important -- and I believe I did -- but I was the one who went home feeling more valuable that I had in years.
Is this still a great country, or what!
P.S. As I expected, this was the most well-received live highway blog -- as measured by honks, waves, peace signs and verbal high 5's -- I've ever hosted.
Saturday, September 8, 2007
As the city of Napa increasingly begins to resemble a cemetery, organizers of a silent anti-war protest are getting their point across.
NAPA - If the white crosses appearing on front lawns throughout Napa are starting to make the city increasingly resemble a cemetery, the organizers of the silent anti-war protest are getting their point across.
The unique Crosses4Peace demonstration is meant to serve as a stark reminder of the deaths resulting from the war in Iraq, said John Stephens, a member of the grassroots group UNCOIL (United Napans Concerned Over Iraq Lunacy).
"We are appalled at the number of people who are dying - not just soldiers but also civilians," he said Thursday. "The idea is to remind ourselves and the community that people are continuing to die and our tax dollars are paying for this terrible consequence."
Since the campaign started last December, UNCOIL has handed out 77 (actually more like 223)of the 3-foot crosses to Napa residents who request them, said Stephens, a 63-year-old retired plumber at Napa State Hospital.
Some leave the crosses unadorned while others personalize them with messages such as "peace" or a Star of David, he said.
"It's a great anti-war protest," Stephens said. "When we have a demonstration, we stand out there one or two hours. With the grave markers, our protest of the war is out there 24 hours a day. It's a very powerful message."
The inspiration for the protest was a contractor named Jeffrey Heaton who, with the help of the Mount Diablo Peace and Justice Center, placed thousands of crosses on a privately owned hillside in Lafayette as a memorial to those killed in the war. The goal is to erect one cross for each fallen U.S. soldier.
Members of the Napa group found the message dignified and undeniable as well as one they would like to emulate.
Without enough land available to hold so many crosses, however, they elected to settle for a single cross on the lawn of anyone who wants to register their objections to the war.
UNCOIL member Summer Mondeau, 43, said a member of the Sonoma County Chapter of the Veterans for Peace put it best when he learned about the project.
"He said, 'Rather than putting 3,000 crosses in one place, the idea here is instead to put one cross in 3,000 places.' That summed it up rather nicely," she said. …
"I guess my wish is that that they just really understood what they've done - how much they've hurt the whole world," she said. "I guess this is my way of reminding them."
Mondeau added that anyone who would like to request one of the crosses free of charge can contact her by calling (707) 252-8242 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
E-mail Dan Judge at UBDJudge@thnewsnet.com or call 553-6831.
U.N.C.O.I.L. - United Napans Concerned Over Iraq Lunacy
- Includes a working membership of well over 200
MISSION: To bring a swift end to the Iraq war
- Protests "the United States' questionable preemptive entry into war
- Promotes peace through responsible grassroots activism
CONTACT: email@example.com; www.uncoil.org