Dedicated and disciplined nonviolent military veterans are planning a peaceful vigil in New York City to protest the beginning of 12 years of war in Afghanistan, to remember the fallen from this and all wars and to assert free speech and assembly rights.
The time will be 6 p.m. on October 7, 2012,as the United States and NATO complete the eleventh year of the current occupation of Afghanistan and launch the twelfth. The crowd at the Republican National Convention cheered for complete immediate withdrawal, but the nominee's plans don't include it. The crowds at rallies for President Obama's reelection cheer for both the continuation of the war and its supposed status as "ending," even though the timetable for that "ending" is longer than most past wars, and a massive occupation is supposed to remain after the occupation "ends." Veterans For Peace, an organization dedicated to the abolition of war, is hoping to inject a discordant note into this happy discourse -- something that the ongoing reports of deaths just don't seem to manage.
The place will be Vietnam Veterans Memorial Plaza, 55 Water Street, New York City. It was there that some of the same veterans gathering this October were arrested last May First. The memorial is normally open around the clock, but on that day the New York Police Department decided to close it at 10 p.m. in order to evict the Occupy Movement's nonviolent general assembly. Eight members of the Veterans Peace Team and two members of Occupy Faith were arrested for refusing to leave.
Participants will lay flowers for the fallen.
Speakers at the vigil will oppose a single additional day of U.S. warmaking in Afghanistan. Speakers will include Leah Bolger, Margaret Flowers, Glen Ford, Mike Hastie, Chris Hedges, George Packard, Donna Schaper, Kevin Zeese, and Michael Zweig.
Vietnam vet Paul Appell says, "War veterans, loved ones of the fallen, and certainly those living in war zones do not have the option of closing down their memories at 10 p.m. There is a good reason why suicide is an attractive option for many. It is truly the only sure way of ending the memories. For a memorial to shut down at some convenient time for the city is an insult to all those who do not have the luxury of shutting down their war memories at a specific time. I know that many want us war vets to go out of sight and not bother them, except when we are needed for some parade. Some of us are not going away at 10 p.m. or any other time. If they do not like it, maybe they should have thought of that before they sent us to war."
Tarak Kauff, U.S. Army, 1959-1962, Veterans For Peace Board member and one of the organizers of VFP's Veterans Peace Team, says, "We will be there standing together to remember the fallen, to oppose and 'abolish war as an instrument of national policy' and to affirm our right to do so in a public place of remembrance that has great meaning for all veterans."
The plan is not for a mass demonstration. In fact, many are explicitly not invited. Non-veterans are enthusiastically welcome, including associate members of Veterans For Peace and anyone else dedicated to ending violence in the world. But "diversity of tactics" is unapologetically rejected. Anyone inclined toward violence, provocation, or threats, including violence to inanimate objects, is kindly asked on this day, to respect the Memorial, the veterans, and the commitment to nonviolence. This event will involve hundreds of activists who intend to peacefully vigil all night, and who will not respond to police violence with any violence of their own. There is a website for more information at StopTheseWars.org
Veterans For Peace was founded in 1985 and has approximately 5,000 members in 150 chapters located in every U.S. state and several countries. It is a 501(c)3 non-profit educational organization recognized as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) by the United Nations, and is the only national veterans' organization calling for the abolishment of war.