Armistice Day is almost on us again, the 100th anniversary. I have attached the flyer which Sean Michael Dargan, one of the organizers, sent me. Please distribute it widely. Chapter 25 VFP is going to be involved in some way. I will keep you posted. Fran
On Thursday evening, August 2nd, professor Lisa Gilman of George Mason University was a special guest of Chapter 25 at the community meeting room of the Urban League, 2222 S. Park St. About 40 attended her hour-plus presentation on the unique subject of music played by troops in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars (My Music, My War). The contrast of this musical experience—from the sociology of the troops to the rapidly evolving technology that underpinned the music—was understandably different than that of the Vietnam War troop experience in the 1960’s—and earlier wars for that matter. Those who attended the presentation a few years ago by UW-Madison authors Craig Werner and Doug Bradley (We Gotta Get Out of this Place) no doubt appreciated the distinctly different war worlds. During her years of research for this book, Lisa also produced and directed Grounds for Resistance, a documentary film about the veteran-run anti-war coffee house, Coffee Strong.
We give credit to The University of Oregon for this very brief summary of her book:
In the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, technological developments in music listening enabled troops to carry vast amounts of music with them and easily acquire new music, for themselves and to share with their fellow troops as well as friends and loved ones far away. This ethnographic study examines U.S. troops’ musical-listening habits during and after war, and the accompanying fear, domination, violence, isolation, pain, and loss that troops experienced. My Music, My War is a moving ethnographic account of what war was like for those most intimately involved. It shows how individuals survive in the messy webs of conflicting thoughts and emotions that are intricately part of the moment-to-moment and day-to-day phenomenon of war, and the pervasive memories in its aftermath. It gives fresh insight into musical listening as it relates to social dynamics, gender, community formation, memory, trauma, and politics.
We were pleased to host this community presentation and grateful to Lisa Gilman for her visit. The Chapter intends to continue engaging both its members and the community with more special programs. Please join us if and when you can—mark your calendars! A coming announcement: A special musical program on Veterans Day-November 11-at the Barrymore Theater on Atwood Avenue. Stay tuned.
Fran introduces the evening’s subject and Professor Lisa Gilman (left)
Lisa Gilman responds to an audience question.
Gilman’s presentation drew approximately 40 members, Iraq-Afghanistan veterans and
members of the public.
Book signing and post-presentation conversation. Left to right: Lisa Gilman, Norm Stockwell of the Progressive Magazine, and VFP member Daryl Sherman.
Professor Lisa Gilman and Chapter Coordinator Fran Wiedenhoeft.
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.”
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.
Veterans for Peace, Inc. (VFP) is a national non-profit 501(c)(3) educational and humanitarian organization dedicated to the abolishment of war. The Madison Chapter is named in honor of Clarence Kailin, long-time Madison peace activist and social reformer, who was a founding member. Clarence died in late 2009 at the age of 95. We honor him by carrying on his name and making efforts to establish a more peaceful and just nation.