Memorial Day Peace Rally 2019

Veterans for Peace, veterans, friends, supporters and family all gathered at the Gates of Heaven at James Madison Park in Madison to honor the dead and rally for a peaceful tomorrow on May 27, Memorial Day, the peace rally is an annual event.

Finding peace and comfort in uncertain times was a theme that accompanied a week-long installation of the Memorial Mile along Atwood Avenue on the shores of Lake Monona. The Mile gives remembrance to the deaths of over 7.000 military members who have died in ongoing military actions around the world.

“The traditional Memorial Day programs have, we feel, a very militaristic flavor, and our program is really a peace event,” according to Veteran for Peace, David Giffey, who acted as emcee.  The Veterans for Peace rally is, in part, focused on communicating the great costs of war.


The event began as the band, Old Cool, led by singer Sandy Nowak along with Dan Hildebrand and Arvid Berge sang to remember the military members and other victims of war and to hope for a better future.




The Class of 2019 students from area high schools were recognized for their winning essays on topics about peace and nonviolence.  Veterans for Peace-Madison received 30 essays this year.

Ashley Cornwell, from Baraboo, read from her essay dealing with conflict resolution through diplomacy. We can do much more to communicate better and in working to understand how others feel and what they think.

Priest, poet and former Madison police chief David Couper addressed the peace rally. Couper spoke during the peace rally about his path to nonviolence and read his poetry, including a poem about what it means to be a patriot.



Our goal is to abolish war, said David Giffey, we can be advocates for peace and be patriotic.  The cost in lives, the cost of displacement of human beings and the opportunity costs are all  immense and avoidable.



Giffey read the names of Veterans for Peace who have passed away including Clarence Kailin, Joey Camarrano, Jim Ellsworth, Sidney Podell, Dr. James Allen, Jeff Goldstein, Charles Sweet, Dr. Eugene Farley, Joel Gaalswyk, John Oliger, and Ed Garvey.  Since Memorial Day, we have also lost Bob Kimbrough, Professor Emeritus of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and veteran of the Korean War.

Melissa Sargent, a state representative from the local Madison area; spoke on peace, government, the civil rights of citizens and immigrant communities.

Give a listen: Audio of Melissa Sargent’s May 27 speech, courtesy of WORT FM and Gil Halsted.

Sargent honored the dead while reflecting on the moral injustices of war. The effect of violence and war on the military members cascades down to spouses and family members, and the impact continues long after the immediate conflicts are ended.

Melissa Sargent:  “This Memorial Day, it was my pleasure to speak at and to be a part of the Veterans for Peace rally. While we were honoring those who have sacrificed their lives for our country, we also recognized the moral injustices of war and that the cost of war encompasses more than the loss of those killed. With lost loved ones, post-traumatic stress disorder, civilians who are impacted and injuries that continue after wars are over, too many people have had their lives torn apart by war.

While we cannot bring back those whose lives have been lost, we can continue to strive for peace in the future. We must lift one another up, and take small steps towards peace each and every day. I know that when we each do better, we all do better. We are stronger together, and together we can build strong and peaceful communities.”

As the attendees filed out of the synagogue, musician Sean Michael Dargan played somber tunes on his bagpipe lending to the sense of seriousness of the loss of these human beings, and we were handed carnations.





The red flowers were then placed on and near the Lincoln Brigade monument.




The Lincoln Brigade were volunteers who fought the fascists in Spain during the Spanish Civil War, which initially the US government was not opposed to.  At least until, Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini gave fascism a bad name.

More info on the Lincoln Brigade and the Spanish Civil War


Photographs taken by Paul McMahon, Heartland Images. Thanks to Paul.  Thank you to Norman Stockwell, publisher of the Progressive Magazine, for all of your technical expertise and hard work.

Veterans for Peace-Madison includes veterans from a variety of conflicts around the world.  We meet every third Wednesday of the month, our meetings are open to the public.  We invite you to attend.


Memorial Mile 2019: Join Us in Remembrance & In Working for Peace

Veterans For Peace Chapter 25 will be setting up over 6000 tombstone replicas, called the Memorial Mile, at Olbrich Park on Atwood Avenue on the shore of Lake Monona.  We do this  for Memorial Day to remember those who have died in conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and other nations of the world post September 11, 2001. This year, the display will be set up on May 25 and taken down on June 1.

If you would like to lend a hand putting up/taking down the Memorial Mile
* Setup is scheduled for Saturday, May 25, starting at 9am
* Take down – Saturday, June 1, starting at Noon

RSVP John or 608-438-7480

Map to Memorial Mile 

Memorial Mile 2018 Channel 3000 News Coverage 

Remarks by Ruth Coniff of Progressive Magazine  

Remarks by Dave Zweiful of Capital Times 


VFP includes all military veterans. In addition to veteran members, a select group of our allies in peace join as associate members.


Statement of Purpose
We, as military veterans, do hereby affirm our greater responsibility to serve the cause of world peace. To this end we will work, with others both nationally and internationally

1. To increase public awareness of the causes and costs of war

2. To restrain our governments from intervening, overtly and covertly, in the internal affairs of other nations

3. To end the arms race and to reduce and eventually eliminate nuclear weapons

4. To seek justice for veterans and victims of war

5. To abolish war as an instrument of national policy

To achieve these goals, members of Veterans For Peace pledge to use non-violent means and to maintain an organization that is both democratic and open with the understanding that all members are trusted to act in the best interests of the group for the larger purpose of world peace.

Veterans for Peace Memorial Day Observance James Madison Park

May 27, 2019 1:00 PM | Gates of Heaven [Shaarei Shamayim] 302 E. Gorham St., Madison, Wisconsin 53703

Gates of Heaven Reconstructionist congregation


Finding peace and comfort in uncertain times will be a theme as members of Madison area Veterans For Peace host a peace rally the afternoon of May 27, and a week-long installation of the Memorial Mile along Atwood Avenue May 25-June 1.



Main speaker at the peace rally – beginning at 1 p.m. Monday, Memorial Day May 27, at the Gates of Heaven building in James Madison Park – will be State Representative Melissa Sargent, 48th Assembly District.

The Memorial Mile is a powerful graphic display of more than 6,000 simulated grave markers, which members of Veterans for Peace and other volunteers will install along Atwood Avenue at Olbrich Park. The Memorial Mile brings attention to U.S. deaths in ongoing wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere. Motorists and pedestrians are welcome to view and discuss the display for the week it is in place along the busy east side street.

Also at the peace rally, Class of 2019 students from Madison and Southwestern Wisconsin high schools will be honored for their winning essays on topics about peace and nonviolence. Some scholarship winners this year wrote about refreshing new attitudes about working for peace, and the consequences of videos, television and electronic media.

David Couper

Priest, poet and former Madison police chief David Couper will address the peace rally. Music will be provided by the band Old Cool. Audio equipment and assistance will be provided by Norman Stockwell, publisher of The Progressive magazine.

Bagpipe music by Sean Michael Dargan will end the rally as audience members place red carnations at the nearby memorial marker for volunteer members of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. The late Clarence Kailin, a founding member of Chapter 25 Veterans For Peace, was a Lincoln Brigade veteran of the Spanish Civil War. Chapter 25 founding member and Vietnam War veteran David Giffey will emcee the program.

Melissa Sargent

Rep. Sargent’s speech is titled “Stronger Together.” Among her subjects will be the importance of strong labor, peace, government, citizens’ rights and immigrant communities.

She was born and raised in Madison, and graduated from East High School and UW-Madison. First elected to the legislature in 2012, Rep. Sargent is in her third term representing the East and North sides of Madison and the village of Maple Bluff.



Rep. Sargent is a strong progressive voice in the Wisconsin Assembly, working to raise the minimum wage, provide equitable access to menstrual hygiene products, legalize marijuana, empower survivors of sexual assault, protect privacy rights, and other important issues.

Educational literature will be available from Veterans For Peace at the Memorial Mile site, and the peace rally at James Madison Park on May 27. Free will donations will be accepted during both Madison events.

Monday Noon Vigil: Mothers Day, the Original Proclamation

VIGIL FOR PEACE Monday’s Noon-1pm – Week 1627, Date: 5.06.2019

The group meets in downtown Madison from 12:00 noon to 1:00 pm on the corner, by the County-City building: The corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Doty Street.

There are signs and flyers available each week. The flyers to be handed out to passers-by.
All are welcome to join this group, which meets every Monday noon, except Federal holidays – (or if the temperature sinks below -20 degrees… and even then, some members enjoy standing for peace.) Link to the Vigil Facebook Page, give them a like

The Original Mother’s Day Proclamation

author: Julia Ward Howe

Arise, all women who have hearts, whether your baptism be that of water or of tears! Say firmly: “We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies, our husbands shall not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause.

“Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience. We women of one country will be too tender of those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.”

From the bosom of the devastated earth a voice goes up with our own. It says, “Disarm, disarm! The sword is not the balance of justice.” Blood does not wipe out dishonor nor violence indicate possession.

As men have often forsaken the plow and the anvil at the summons of war, let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel. Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead. Let them then solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means whereby the great human family can live in peace, each learning after his own time, the sacred impress, not of Caesar, but of God.

In the name of womanhood and of humanity, I earnestly ask that a general congress of women without limit of nationality may be appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient and at the earliest period consistent with its objects, to promote the alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement of international questions, the great and general interests of peace.

While countries around the world celebrate their own Mother’s Day at different times throughout the year, several countries, including the United States, Italy, Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, and Turkey celebrate it on the second Sunday of May.

Arise, all women who have hearts!

In the United States, the origins of the official holiday go back to 1870, when Julia Ward Howe

Julia Ward Howe

(1819-1910) – an abolitionist best remembered as the poet who wrote “Battle Hymn of the Republic” – worked to establish a Mother’s Peace Day. Howe dedicated the celebration to the eradication of war, and organized festivities in Boston for years. In 1907, Anna Jarvis, of Philadelphia, began the campaign to have Mother’s Day officially recognized, and in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson did this, proclaiming it a national holiday and a “public expression of our love and reverence for all mothers.”

Mother’s Day Peace Pole Celebration

First Unitarian Society
900 University Bay Dr.
Sunday, May 12th

Come decorate peace poles any time before 12:30 pm, at which time we will share fellowship, songs, & words for Peace
“May Peace Prevail on Earth”

Mother’s Day is a world-wide event of pagan origins. In the United States, this day was linked to the concept of peace by Anna Jarvis in 1908 in memory of her mother, a well-known activist who started Mother’s Day work clubs to support soldiers on both sides of the American Civil War. After a checkered start in individual states and commercialization that Anna Jarvis grew to resent, in 1914 Woodrow Wilson declared the 2nd Sunday in May an official holiday to honor mothers. It’s link with peace became lost.

The “Peace Pole Project” has been an official Project of The World Peace Prayer Society since 1955. As a response to the bombings on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Masahisa Goi from Japan dedicated his life to spreading the message, “May Peace Prevail on Earth”. White Peace Poles with this phrase etched on them were created in many different languages, handcrafted, sold and erected the world over as international symbols of peace.

In 2012 the Social Justice Committee of the First Unitarian Society started installing decorated posts, flanked by two white Peace Poles. Seven of the eight languages on both posts were provided by the scholars of Shorewood Elementary School. The eighth was provided by members of the Ho-Chunk community to help us acknowledge that we are situated on Ho-Chunk land. The Ho-Chunk words are said to be an equivalent phrase, as there is no direct translation for “May Peace Prevail on Earth.” in Ho-Chunk.

These posts have been installed and decorated annually on Mother’s Day ever since. They remain up for approximately one month. Any empty posts can be adopted by anyone moved to decorate them at any time while they are in place and the undone posts serve as a reminder that there is always more work to be done. First Unitarian Society is proud to co-sponsor this event with the following organizations this year: Wisconsin Network for Peace Justice and Sustainability and the Downtown Vigil for Peace.

Grant Us Peace.