Tag Archives: scholarship

Rousing Peace Rally at Gates of Heaven During Hottest Memorial Day on Record

 By David Giffey

Alfred McCoy’s newest book concludes with five scenarios for the potential end of U.S. global hegemony. The book was McCoy’s topic as guest speaker at the annual Veterans for Peace May 28 afternoon rally at the Gates of Heaven.

McCoy’s sobering, realistic, and carefully researched presentation described historical evidence of empires built and undone. While identifying aspects of a declining “American Century” [of U.S. hegemony] as signaling an end to an American Empire, he also noted positive results of the “American Century” including formation of the United Nations and the World Health Organization, and global advances in human rights.

(Note to readers: “hegemony” may be defined as “domination” or “control.” In McCoy’s usage, “hegemony” may also be substituted for “empire” or “the American Century.”)

In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power, (Haymarket Books 2017) is McCoy’s newest book. He wrote to end the final chapter, “Now that the American Century is ending, we can only wonder what kind of shadow it will cast across the globe for future generations.” His presentation at the peace rally posed a similar question.

The American Century is described by McCoy as beginning around the time of WW II. Five scenarios detailed by the author as potentially ending the American Century by 2040 include an evolving world order, economic decline, military misadventure, World War III, and climate change. Climate change, McCoy writes, “…is on such a clear scientific trajectory that there is no need for speculation about its impact…world power would silently shift away from Washington by sheer force of geopolitics and ‘extreme weather’.”

Sharing the peace rally program was Progressive magazine publisher Norman Stockwell, who told the audience of more than 100 about his recent return trip to Vietnam and the ongoing efforts and successes of Madison Quakers Inc. (MQI) and director Mike Boehm. Micro-credit loans, compassion houses, primary schools, My Lai Peace Park, and drilling of water wells are among projects headed by Boehm and MQI over the past decades in Quang Ngai Province.

Father David Couper is an ordained Episcopal priest, author, former Madison police chief and member of Veterans for Peace. Couper spoke during the peace rally about his path to nonviolence, and ended his invocation with a poem.

During the program, seniors from six area high schools were honored as winners of 2018 cash scholarships in the Chapter 25 essay contest. Since the program began 11 years ago, close to 200 student essays have been submitted by scholarship applicants from high schools in Madison, Spring Green, Dodgeville, Muscoda, Richland Center, Baraboo and Boscobel. Student essays are written on topics of peace and nonviolence. Attending the peace rally and introduced by VFP member Paul McMahon was the 2018 winner from West High School, Diana Nava. She was accompanied by her mother, Julia, younger brother, Alex, and a friend. Scholarship recipients from other schools in 2018 are: Lily Scallon, Boscobel High School; Nichole Erdman, Dodgeville; Miles Statz, Baraboo; Garrett Prem, River Valley; and Cole Darling, Richland Center.

Diana Nava, 2018 Madison High Schools scholarship winner, and her family.  Photo by Tom Glassel.

Members of Veterans for Peace who have died were named and remembered fondly, 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.

The rally began with a stirring set of music by the band Old Cool. Band members are Dan Hildebrand, Sandy Nowak, Arvid Berge and Lee Grady. Ending the event was Sean Michael Dargan’s bagpipe music while attendees placed red carnations at the nearby monument to Wisconsin Lincoln Brigade volunteers fighting Fascists in 1937 during the Spanish Civil War. Clarence Kailin, namesake of Chapter 25 Veterans for Peace, was a member of the Lincoln Brigade. His name is listed on the marker. Clarence died in 2009 at age 93.

Attendees place carnations on the Abraham Lincoln Brigade monument in James Madison Park. Photo by Tom Glassel.

Al McCoy wrote of the May 28 Veterans for Peace Rally:

“Although I speak regularly at diverse locations in America, Asia, and Europe, I found myself unexpectedly moved by the esprit of the Veterans for Peace event that makes Madison such a special community. The pride of the student essay awardee, the eloquence of Rev. David Couper’s recollections of witnessing nuclear tests in the Pacific back in the 1950s, and Norm Stockwell’s description of contemporary peace-building at My Lai all came together to make the quest for peace seem not a Quixotic quest, but a matter of political necessity.”


News Coverage of Memorial Day Program

Channel 3000: Veterans for Peace host Memorial Day program at park

WKOW27: Veterans For Peace Holds Rally for Change

Chapter 25 counter-recruiting, essay contest in Six Rural Southwestern Wisconsin High Schools

VFP Counter-Recruiting display at Baraboo High School.  Photo by David Giffey.

VFP Counter-Recruiting display at Baraboo High School. Photo by David Giffey.

In early 2016, Veterans for Peace Chapter 25 members spent lunch hours counter-

recruiting in six high schools in rural Southwestern Wisconsin. This photo shows

the visual display set up at Baraboo High School in March. Also included in the

counter recruitment and essay contest sponsored by Chapter 25 are high schools:

River Valley in Spring Green, Riverdale in Muscoda, Dodgeville, Boscobel, and

Richland Center. Students receive information regarding alternatives to the military

and details about the on-going essay contest. In 2015, a total of 39 seniors at the six

rural high schools wrote essays on the topic “Why I Believe War Is Not the Answer.”

The winning essay writer in each school received a $500 scholarship from Chapter

25. The counter-recruiting and scholarship essay program in Southwestern

Wisconsin is coordinated by Chapter 25 founding member David Giffey. Member

Randy Converse assisted with counter recruiting in the rural high schools. The

scholarships will be presented to the winning students at award night ceremonies at

each of the schools before the end of the 2016 school year. For more information

about the rural high school scholarship program, email David Giffey:

barnowl1941 (at) gmail (dot) com

Chapter 25 works for peace and justice with Peace Rally and Memorial Mile

Featured speakers at the May 25 peace rally in Madison, Wisconsin, sponsored by  Veterans for Peace Chapter 25, are pictured in this photo montage by photographer  Paul McMahon, a member of Veterans for Peace. Clockwise from lower left: David  Newby, president emeritus of Wisconsin State AFL-CIO; Father David Couper,  former Madison police chief and ordained Episcopalian priest; social justice  advocate Everett Mitchell, pastor of Christ the Solid Rock Baptist Church; and Will  Williams, Vietnam War veteran, activist, and peace movement spokesman. Rev.  Mitchell is pictured wearing a stole of Kente cloth, a traditional fabric used for West  African garments and worn at times of great importance.  (Photos by Paul McMahon)

Featured speakers at the May 25 peace rally in Madison, Wisconsin, sponsored by Veterans for Peace Chapter 25, are pictured in this photo montage by photographer Paul McMahon, a member of Veterans for Peace. Clockwise from lower left: David Newby, president emeritus of Wisconsin State AFL-CIO; Father David Couper, former Madison police chief and ordained Episcopalian priest; social justice advocate Everett Mitchell, pastor of Christ the Solid Rock Baptist Church; and Will Williams, Vietnam War veteran, activist, and peace movement spokesman. Rev. Mitchell is pictured wearing a stole of Kente cloth, a traditional fabric used for West African garments and worn at times of great importance. – (Photos by Paul McMahon)

By David Giffey

The historic Gates of Heaven building resounded with applause and affirmation during the annual peace rally sponsored May 25, Memorial Day, in Madison, by Clarence Kailin Chapter 25 Veterans for Peace.

Four featured speakers delivered important and thoughtfully prepared comments, high school student scholarship winners were honored, and names of war casualties were read to live bagpipe music as the audience of 100 people received red carnations to be placed at the Lincoln Brigade monument at James Madison Park. The Gates of Heaven building, a former Jewish Synagogue, was moved to its present site at the park and served as a home for the peace rally.

A somber display – The Memorial Mile – also was erected by Chapter 25 members on May 23, and was scheduled to remain in place along Atwood Avenue until May 30. The Memorial Mile consists of 6,675 symbolic grave markers, which stretch a saddening and impressive distance along the street to be viewed by thousands of motorists, cyclists and pedestrians.

The peace rally began with a stirring set performed by the band Old Cool.

Veterans for Peace member David Couper, an ex-Marine, and former Madison police chief and advocate of community policing, told the crowd: “Excessive militarism is dangerous in a free society…we have seen it manifested in our nation’s police. As soldiers, we fought an enemy, but police in a society such as ours must be our guardians, especially of those among us who are most vulnerable…” After Couper retired from his peace keeping work he was ordained a priest in the Episcopalian Church. His invocation was included in his thoughtful comments.

Activist and labor leader David Newby, president emeritus of the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO, described the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal as being devised in secret to benefit powerful corporations. “Memorial Day is such an important day,” Newby said, “for remembering those killed in this nation’s wars…It’s an important day for remembering too that the reasons for our being in these wars are so often not what we are told. So often it has been not the American people who we went to war to protect, but rather powerful corporations whose interests and profits were considered more important than the lives of the women and men sent to war.”

Everett Mitchell, a social justice advocate, attorney, activist, scholar and pastor at the Solid Rock Baptist Church, devoted some of his comments to lessons taught about war and peace by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. As injustice and police violence reach into the lives of African Americans in Madison and communities across the U.S., Rev. Mitchell repeated a message for peace and justice activists: “Until there is justice, we can’t stop.”

Chapter 25 Veterans for Peace is heir to anti-war history.  Beginning in 1967, this hand-sewn flag made in Madison, Wisconsin, was used by Madison Veterans for Peace in Vietnam at numerous public demonstrations and protests against the war. Chuck Goranson, a Vietnam veteran, was a grassroots organizer of the group. “Vietnam” was dropped from the group’s name in 1970, when the war was expanded into Cambodia and Laos. Clarence Kailin Chapter 25 Veterans for Peace is a 21st century renewal of the earlier veterans for peace organization. This photo, by Chapter 25 member Phillip Fransen, was taken during the peace rally May 25, 2015, at the Gates of Heaven in James Madison Park. The aging flag serves as a reminder that veterans have long been active in the peace movement.  (Photo by Phillip Fransen)

Chapter 25 Veterans for Peace is heir to anti-war history. Beginning in 1967, this hand-sewn flag made in Madison, Wisconsin, was used by Madison Veterans for Peace in Vietnam at numerous public demonstrations and protests against the war. Chuck Goranson, a Vietnam veteran, was a grassroots organizer of the group. “Vietnam” was dropped from the group’s name in 1970, when the war was expanded into Cambodia and Laos. Clarence Kailin Chapter 25 Veterans for Peace is a 21st century renewal of the earlier veterans for peace organization. This photo, by Chapter 25 member Phillip Fransen, was taken during the peace rally May 25, 2015, at the Gates of Heaven in James Madison Park. The aging flag serves as a reminder that veterans have long been active in the peace movement. (Photo by Phillip Fransen)

Two of seven 2015 high school scholarship winners, Lyric Simonson and Jose Hernandez, read excerpts from their prizewinning essays titled: “Why I Believe War Is Not the Answer.” This year, Chapter 25 provided a total of $4,200 in scholarships to seven high school graduates. A record 39 students from seven high schools in Central and Southwestern Wisconsin wrote essays for the contest.

Closing comments by Chapter 25 member and Vietnam War veteran Will Williams pointed out the injustices of war that he realized after serving in war. Williams emphasized the importance of educating and supporting young people in order to overcome traditions of militarism and violence.

The peace rally ended with an invitation from the family of Clarence Kailin, namesake of Chapter 25 and a veteran of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade from Madison, to join in scattering some of Clarence’s ashes near the monument at the park. Norman Stockwell, of WORT-FM, offered the invitation on behalf of Clarence’s family, some of whom attended the peace rally.

Names of Wisconsin residents killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and those of civilian casualties were read.

See more photos of the event here.  Courtesy of Tom Glassel.

Montage of Chapter 25 and Chapter 970 members marching in Monona Memorial Day Parade. (Youtube Link)