2021 Memorial Day Commemoration Webinar ~ Monday, May 31st
(May 25, 20210 — The New York City chapter of Veterans For Peace (V4P) raises an interesting question: “What would Memorial Day look like if we commemorated all the victims of war, and not just the military fallen from our own country? What would it be like to honor all the dead and acknowledge all the destruction wrought around the world by US military actions?”
And V4P has come up with a rousing and reflective response—a 2021 Memorial Day Zoomathon set for Monday, May 31st at 2:00 PM Eastern Time. The online conversation will pair Americans (mostly military vets) with a globe-spanning array of nearly two-dozen Indigenous and foreign speakers “who have been on the receiving end of US military aggression.” It’s a remarkable list a speakers:
Cheyenne Arapaho Nation: Larry Bringing Good
Afghanistan: Nematullah Ahangosh, Basir Bita, Kathy Kelly, Danny Sjursen
Iraq: Matthew Hoh, Lubna Mousa
Vietnam: Peggy Akers, Theresa Mei Chuc, Doug Rawlings
Japan: Susan Schnall, Kiyoko Takei, Masashi Takei
Okinawa: Ken Mayers, Teiko Yohana Tursi
Korea: Soobok Kim, Stan Levin, Georgia Wever
Palestine: Afaf Alnajjar, Miko Peled
Closing: Leah Bolger, Rory Fanning
Moderator: Susan Schnall
Music: Anthony Donovan
As Arundhati Roy has written in Public Power in the Age of Empire:
“Colorful demonstrations and weekend marches are vital but alone are not powerful enough to stop wars. Wars will be stopped only when soldiers refuse to fight, when workers refuse to load weapons onto ships and aircraft, when people boycott the economic outposts of Empire that are strung across the globe.”
Who Do You Remember on Memorial Day?
(May 25, 20210 — This Memorial Day we remember all who have died in war and understand that no one wins in war. Many of us have been personally touched by war. But we must also extend that mourning. We must remember the civilian victims, and their families, who are all equally human beings. Honoring and remembering some deaths while ignoring others not only perpetuates war, but also ignores the moral injuries of war, which some now recognize as a significant cause of veteran suicide.
Veterans For Peace is a group of military veterans, family members and friends who are joined in association by our pledge to serve the cause of world peace and abolish war. We bring a different message to Memorial Day than the themes usually promoted by popular media, the government and traditional veterans’ organizations.
We do not seek to glorify either warriors or war. Rather, Veterans For Peace seeks to educate the public about the folly of war and the human, economic, civil rights and liberties and environmental cost of war. VFP members march in parades, lay wreaths, give talks and speeches, recite poetry and vigil to honor US service members who died in and as a result of war, as well as all the civilian victims of war.
There are people who profit from war, mainly those who invest in the defense industry or the oil sector. But the veterans and civilians who survive war suffer for the rest of their lives. And the entire society is robbed of billions of tax dollars which could be spent on jobs, education, healthcare, infrastructure and sustainable energy.
Veterans For Peace has commemorated Memorial Day every year to remember the true costs of war. We know that this year physical gatherings may not be possible even as the current virus has revealed the massive need to put people over the pentagon and the need to fund healthcare and human needs over the massive expenses of the military.
Our message for Memorial Day is to remember all who have died in war and to understand that no one wins. We understand that those who fight the wars gain the least from them and those who send us to war gain the most from war. There are many people who either profit from war or are misled by war mongers and profiteers. These are the people who seek to block our message to question war and to work for peace.
WE WILL EXERCISE OUR RIGHT TO PARTICIPATE IN MEMORIAL DAY EVENTS
Veterans For Peace is a veteran organization with members who have served from WWII to the current era. Yet there are organizations and government officials who seek to block VFP members’ freedom of expression and participation in Memorial Day observances.
Not all members of Veterans For Peace seek to be present in public events honoring veterans, because the events tend to be a platform to venerate war and spread militarism. However a significant number of members choose to participate by providing an alternative message of peace and nonviolence. We seek to honor the dead by telling the horrible truth about war in an effort to protect the living. VFP will not be intimidated by efforts to block member participation and we will take all steps necessary to participate in any public event members consider appropriate.
Is your chapter planning something for Memorial Day? Let us know by filling this form out!
Chapter Actions for Memorial Day 2021
Chapter 9 – Boston, MA (Smedley Butler Brigade)
Gather with VFP Chapter 9 on Memorial Day Monday, May 31st at Park St. T Station at 11:30 am. Step off will be at 12:00 noon and attendees will parade up to the Soldiers and Sailors Monument on the Common behind the bagpiper. Several Smedleys will do Memorial Day readings and place carnations on the monument in remembrance of the Victims of War. Event attendees will realign around the field of flags and ring the bell for departed Smedley Brothers. Taps will then be played on the bugle and there will be a parade back to Park St. T Station behind the bagpiper.
Chapter 14 – Gainesville, FL
Veterans For Peace Chapter 14 in Gainesville, Florida will be hosting a virtual Memorial Mile this year to remember those who have died in the wars in Afghanistan since 2001 and in Iraq since 2003. This is the 14th year that Gainesville VFP has held a commemoration, and two years ago the city of Gainesville re-named the usual location of the memorial (8th Avenue Northwest) as “Memorial Mile,” in honor of their work.
The virtual commemoration will include videos made over the years of the line of tombstones, including photos of those tombstones with written messages on them from loved ones who visited their friend or family members’ tombstone. It will also include testimonials from VFP members and others impacted by Memorial Mile and its message of remembrance. Original music will be provided by Bob McPeek.
Chapter 23 – Rochester, NY
At 4pm on Monday May 31st, Rochester Witness For Palestine has invited Veterans For Peace, Chapter 23 members and friends to join and participate in the Memorial Day Service for Israeli and Gazan children. The event will take place outside at the back of Irondequoit United Church of Christ, 644 Titus Avenue. View the Flyer.
After a reading of the children’s names, participants in the interfaith service will process to the side yard of the church and silently place flags with the names of the children in a field of sorrow. This flag field will be available through Wednesday for picture taking.
Chapter 27 – Minneapolis, MN
Chapter 27 will resume their Memorial Day Service May 31, 2021 beginning at 9:30 am on the State Capitol grounds on John Ireland Blvd, just outside of the Vietnam Veterans memorial. Attendees will gather and have a Native welcome, hear some music, spoken word and have a time to remember “All” those have been lost to the scourge of “All” wars, veterans and non veterans. If the weather is inclement they will gather under the walkway between the VA administration buildings. They ask that those attending please bring a chair and whatever you need to be comfortable.
Chapter 25 – Madison, WI
VFP Madison & Progressive Magazine will be going live on Facebook and YouTube [www.youtube.com/theprogressive] on Monday, May 31 at 1:00-2:00 pm CDT with their Annual Memorial Day Peace Rally Online.
Guest Speakers the Reverend David Couper and David Giffey, plus one of this year’s high school essay awardees. Live music by Old Cool and others, poetry- and more. The event will conclude with the laying of carnations at the Spanish Civil War Veterans monument and bagpipes by Sean Michael Dargan. View the Facebook Event Page here.
Chapter 34 – New York City, NY
2021 Memorial Day Commemoration – Monday, May 31, 2 pm EDT
What would Memorial Day look like if we commemorated all the victims of war, and not just the military fallen from our own country? What would it be like to honor all the dead and acknowledge all the destruction wrought around the world by US military actions?
Join the New York City VFP Chapter to explore this theme, as we pair Americans, mostly military veterans, with speakers who have been on the receiving end of US military aggression.
Chapter 72 – Portland, OR
Join members of Chapter 72 on Monday, May 31, 2021 at 2 PM MDT at the Peace Memorial Park of Portland as they remember fallen comrades alongside all the victims of senseless wars.
This year, they will highlight those who dutifully served our nation, yet faced deportation under archaic immigration regulations. There will be speeches and calls to action with a focus on finding peace at home and abroad. Parking is limited, so please plan accordingly. View the Facebook Event Page here.
Chapters 74 and 93 – South Michigan
Veterans For Peace Chapters 74 and 93 have again joined forces to set up the Veterans For Peace Arlington Michigan display (one grave marker for every Michigan soldier killed in the Afghan and Iraq wars – 230 total) in downtown Detroit on Memorial Day.
The purpose of this display is to honor those who have fallen, to provide a place to grieve, and to educate the public about the costs of war, as well as the needs of those returning from conflicts. The display will be held on Monday, May 31st, 11am to 5pm, in downtown Detroit’s Grand Circus Park (Woodward at East Adams – map link).
Chapter 157 – North Carolina Triangle
Virtual Zoom gathering from 2 to 3:30 p.m. on Monday, May 31
Each year, as an alternative to the usual glamorization and glorification of war that accompanies Memorial Day, the Orange County Peace Coalition invites the greater Triangle community to its Commemoration for Victims of War — war casualties, military families, civilian casualties, and the social structure deprived of resources due to the many costs of war. They honor those in the military who have died, living veterans, and those who resisted, while bringing attention to the causes of conflict, the harm it does to society, and the many ways it intersects with other social ills.
The keynote address, “Everyday Resistance: The Art of Living with Endless War,” will be offered by Dr. Joseph W. Groves, retired professor of Peace and Conflict Studies and project director of Palestine/Israel: The Economics of Inequality, Nonviolence International. Dr. Groves lived in Iraq from 1966-69, has traveled extensively in the Middle East, and has led several delegations to Palestine/Israel with Eyewitness Palestine.
Also on the program will be songs of peace by Mary Johnson Rockers and the Raging Grannies, selected poetry and other readings, an annual message from Veterans For Peace, and Memorial Day proclamations from the mayors of Chapel Hill and Carrboro. The program will conclude with the playing of “Taps” by Christopher Meglan. The Orange County Peace Coalition is an alliance of local groups supporting the promotion of peace through education and outreach. For more information, contact Wes Hare firstname.lastname@example.org.
Zoom link. Meeting ID: 885 5391 3758 Passcode: 013471