My Lai Touring Exhibit in Binghamton

My Lai Memorial Exhibit is a project of Chicago Veterans for Peace and honors the Vietnamese people who died as a result of our political and military actions in their country during the Vietnam War.

Your donation to My Lai Memorial Exhibit will help us defray the costs of displaying.

Broome County Public Library

  • Thursday 11/7 – 10am to 8pm
  • Friday 11/8 – 10am to 5pm
  • Saturday 11/9 – 10am to 2pm

The My Lai Memorial Exhibition reception will be at the Broome County Library at 4 PM on Thursday, November 7th. Remarks by designer/artist from Veterans for Peace Chicago, Mac McDevitt, music by folk artist Andru Bemis. Snacks and drinks.

A woman at My Lai trying to protect women and children from U.S. troops who killed more than 500 villagers, including women and children on March 16, 1968

Sponsored by Peace Action of Broome and Veterans for Peace
More info contact Jack Gilroy 607.239.9605 or VFPbroomecounty@gmail.com

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Children’s Peace Fair

Veterans for Peace & Peace Action of Broome worked together to produce a Children’s Peace Fair this past Hiroshima Day, August 6. Adults said it was a resounding success.

Earlier in the day, adults kept our decades-long tradition around 8 AM we rang the huge ground bell at the First Congregational Church Binghamton to sound off the horror start of the nuclear weapon age, the incineration of Hiroshima. Comments were made by a number of people and then coffee and snacks in the parlor and then set up jobs in the First Congregational parking lot as we hauled tables and chairs up from the basement.

By 10 AM all was in place but no kids. Around 10:15 a few came and then someone called out: “Look whose coming”? Children by the score were hiking to the Fair from the Urban League and Columbus Park many blocks away. Hearts were raised to see them flock around the large bell and help ring in the Children’s Peace Fair.

Some children were interviewed by local TV reporters as Hillary Rozek, Choir Director of her group, Kenny’s Kid’s sang peace songs on the church steps (later Hilary would come back with 24 high school kids to do great song and dance from the play she was directing, Lion King, Jr). Mrs Terry Dempsey had two tables including a Peace Photo Shop plus lots of ground space for her multiple peace-oriented games and creative peace art such as painting peace slogans or words on rocks to be left in parks or given to others. A big attraction were parrots…birds rescued and maintained by (need her name). Jennifer Jones of Parrott rescue had kids feeding a large blue and gold macaw and an Australian sulfur crested Cockatoo. Helena Garan and Nancy McDonough took in Kimonos for kids to try on and one young woman didn’t shed her kimono until the fair was almost over. Silvia Martinichio invited children to learn Yoga on the Front St lawn side of the church one little three-year-old red head stole the show of new yoga performers. MaryEllen Gilroy had kids doing sidewalk chalk drawings of peace symbols as her sister Maureen had kids do a large Peace Puzzle. Marlene Lausen had a table of origami papers and taught kids (and Fr Tim Taugher) the art of paper folding. Cecily O’Neil offered kids homemade Peace Scarves as Josie & Ameerah, teenage Johnson City Middle School girls wowed the crowd with their talented dance moves. Ann and Jim Clune and Ellen Connett offered kids watermelon and ice cream bars and ice pop sticks–thanks to the generosity of Bonnie Mando and Doug Garner.

All the while, our videographer, Vera Scroggins was busy capturing the action that she later put on YouTube as a five-minute Children’s Peace Fair, Binghamton NY.

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Our Main Mission: No Nuclear Weapons

By Jim Clune

The original impetus to forming Broome County Peace Action was the Freeze Campaign of the 1980’s.

However, the nuclear weapons never went away. The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists’ Doomsday Clock is now set at 2 minutes to midnight. The current resident of the Oval Office tears up treaties with impunity and calls for a new arms race, even into space, while Pentagon planners continue to pursue “total spectrum dominance” of all of humanity.

It is hard to get public attention onto American Weapons of Mass Destruction because they have institutional momentum with unlimited funding, timid political will to oppose them, and most people are just trying to financially and medically survive. The survival of life on this planet hangs in the balance while other ways of plundering our environment economically and socially continue apace. Holding WMD’s at humanity’s collective throats sets the pattern. It is not just that a nuclear accident could occur, but that the destruction is already happening to almost everybody and everything under an ongoing 73-year reign of terror.

The existence of WMD’s calls into question our morality as a species, the fate of the poor of the world which is on track to eventually include almost everybody, and the entire balance of factors that allow ANY life on this planet to continue, even if the bombs never go off.

The King’s Bay Plowshares 7 (Kingsbayplowshares7.org or Kings Bay Plowshare on Facebook) are nonviolent activists who entered the Trident sub base in King’s Bay, Georgia last year on the anniversary of Martin Luther King’s assassination. They are awaiting trial. Their message was loud and clear: “The Ultimate Logic of Trident is Omnicide.” Getting rid of all WMD’s is quite doable, and is a necessary first step to addressing ALL other questions.

It is time to face our fears and self-imposed limitations. We deserve a better fate than this, and we are all quite capable of choosing a different course, believe it or not.

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Weekly Peace Vigil Marks 20 Years of Standing Up For Peace

By Ann Clune

On Monday, April 22 we marked the twenty-year anniversary of our weekly vigil for peace. Members of Broome County Peace Action, Broome County Veterans for Peace, and friends gathered in front of the Federal building on Henry Street in Binghamton with a variety of posters and banners addressing current issues and the need to work for justice and peace.
We believe true peace is not merely the absence of war, so our signs reflect many issues encompassing militarism, racism, environmental destruction, and oppression.

It all began in April of 1999, when, in solidarity with an international day of protests against the US/United Nations bombing of Yugoslavia, a coalition of peace and justice organizations held a demonstration at the Federal Building in downtown Binghamton. That gathering led to holding weekly vigils in solidarity with international “Bridges of Light” when people in Kosovo stood with candles and lanterns on bridges to prevent the bombing of their vital infrastructure

When that campaign ended, we decided to continue to hold weekly peace vigils, moving the vigil back to the Federal Building on Henry Street for the symbolism of addressing national policies, and changed to Monday afternoons around rush hour for the sake of visibility and public attention.

This weekly peace vigil has continued for 20 years, meeting for about an hour beginning at 4:30 PM (4:00 from late fall till the return of daylight-saving time) every Monday, with a few temporary changes of site, and in recent years some limited breaks due to winter weather.

Besides promoting public awareness of important human issues, we find that standing together gives an enjoyable opportunity to chat with agreeable friends, and gives us a sense of support and a sense of hope, as so many passers-by honk, wave, and thank us. There are comparatively few negative reactions. Please join us any week you can for any part of the hour.

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Three Courageous Congresswomen

By Fred Trzcinski

The jackals have been unleashed!

The venom and the smears have been spreading daily, notably targeting three of our newest congressional representatives, viz., Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC), Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib. Besides being “freshman” Members of our Congress, they happen to be women of color, outspoken, well-educated, young and smart as the dickens! Oh, and by the way, two of them are (Gasp!) Muslims.

In my opinion, the attacks on the aforementioned individuals have reached their zenith with the publication of the New York Post’s cover page this past April 11th. With a backdrop of the horrific burning World Trade Center, Representative Omar was grossly misquoted regarding 9/11. With no pun intended, the cover was inflammatory, insensitive, racist, hateful and outrageously misleading. Seemingly, by impulse and no surprise to anyone, our president jumped into the fray to add fuel to the firestorm by tweeting his own hateful and misleading video. Fox News and various right-wing pundits piled on with their own diatribes.

Sadly, the April 11th piece is just the tip of the iceberg as to what the far right media have been spewing since the election of these three Members of Congress. Representative Tlaib quickly attracted right wing wrath when she used an expletive (Oh horrors!) while suggesting that President Trump should be impeached. Given our president’s expletive use (think of the Billy Bush interview on the bus), she was probably thinking that such language is the new Washington norm. Nevertheless, Tlaib was incessantly attacked.

Even more notable, Omar early on touched the “third rail”, criticizing the
relationship between our nation’s leadership and the Israeli lobbies and “allegiance to Israel”. A firestorm erupted and as published in the April 1st edition of the The Nation, “irate lobby officials demanded that the Democratic House leadership punish Omar for what they falsely claimed was her use of an anti-Semitic slur regarding Jews and dual loyalty— words and meaning that she never spoke or implied.” And of course we all know that Israeli lobbyists have little, if any, influence upon our elections or legislation. It is just the right thing to do to funnel billions of dollars each year to Israel rather than support the people of Flint, Michigan or Puerto Rico (Wink! Wink!).

Turning attention to Representative AOC, she has genuinely been fresh meat for the right-wing media. In particular she has been, and continues to be attacked for her support of “The Green New Deal” which addresses climate change and income inequality. Frankly, a day does not seem to go by when the New York Post or Fox News does not attack or mischaracterize what either of our three new representatives have to say or do.
The same seems to be true for our president and his attacks on anyone who dares to speak truth to power.

Lastly, and perhaps most disturbing has been the silence and absence of support for these three courageous representatives from their more senior colleagues of their very own party. Not much from Senators Schumer or Gillibrand. Not much from Speaker Pelosi. And so it goes.

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Teach Peace & Justice Action Research Grant

By Tim Wolcott

Do you have a child, grandchild, niece or nephew who seems more concerned about right rather than might? Do they live and learn in Broome County? If so, a recent collaboration between Broome County Peace Action and TeachPeaceNow.com might be of interest to you. If one of their teachers and their principal support your child’s concerns for peace and justice, please consider supporting them as well.

Why should people of all ages participate in social action and service projects?

  1. They develop a history of being involved in making a difference.
  2. They learn that working together gives people power.
  3. They learn that taking effective action is a process that involves
    specific skills.
  4. We build on the natural desire of people of good-heart to be fair and
    right wrongs.
  5. It relieves the stress caused by the feeling that we are helpless and
    must be shielded by government and movers and shakers in society.

The Teach Peace & Justice grant program’s mission is to encourage students to initiate discussions on injustice and areas of conflict resolution. The program seeks to link academic skills with activities designed to promote peace, justice and social activism. Under the guidance of teachers, students will research and solve problems in their school and community. Effective Peace & Justice Action projects address numerous areas in the curriculum. Students will use mathematics in collecting and analyzing statistics, writing in developing their ideas, the arts in designing marketing and instructional materials, and the social sciences in coming to understand the workings of law and government. Collaborative participation will provide opportunities for students to use their creativity and imaginations as well as develop 21st century skills including critical thinking, problem-solving, and teamwork.

For the 2019–2020 school year a total of $ 1,000 is available. From this amount, three grants will be made: one for elementary, one for middle school, and one for high school. The funds provided by a Teach Peace & Justice Grant can be used toward research, materials, and activities needed to successfully carry out the project.

For the 2019 – 2020 school year, grant applications will be accepted starting September 10, 2019. The DEADLINE to apply is October 31, 2019. Successful applicants will be notified by November 20, 2019.

Applications are only accepted online at teachpeacenow.com/bcpeaceaction-grant-program

For information concerning grant requirements, project ideas, possible solutions and the grant assessment rubric, please visit TeachPeaceNow.com or bcpeaceaction.org.

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Make Veterans Day Armistice Day Again

By Jack Gilroy

Over one-hundred years ago, November 11, 1918, the Great War, World War I, came to an end.

People around the world rejoiced and celebrated the end of hostilities, a time to declare peace. The following year of 1919, the day became known as Armistice Day. It was not a day to celebrate war and warriors, but a day to celebrate peace.

The British and German governments are issuing a unique joint appeal to communities across the world to ring their church and other bells in unison on Armistice Day at 11 a.m. to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of the awful slaughter.

It’s time for Americans to reclaim Armistice Day. In 1954, we dropped the name “Armistice Day” and adopted “Veterans Day.” We replaced a sacred day of thanksgiving for a day to glorify warriors. That was not the intent of veterans of WWI.

Veterans rejoiced at no more artillery and mortar rounds ripping through young bodies; mustard gas searing lungs and burning skin; the end of machine gun fire projecting 450 rounds per minute; innovation monster weapons of death, like tanks and weaponized aircraft that killed millions for Empire. People mourned for the mostly poor and working class drafted or lured by disinformation and lies of propaganda.

When Armistice Day was declared one year after the war, 1919, people were beginning to understand that the bloodshed was not about valor or glory or medals or service but about power and money. Just in the United States alone, 15,000 new millionaires were made in our short participation in the European war.Republican Herbert Hoover, director of the Food Administration in Democrat Woodrow Wilson’s administration, summed up the situation by noting: “Older men declare war, but it is the young who fight and die.” He could have added, “who fight and die for lies of the rich and powerful.”

Rory Fanning, a former U.S. Army Ranger with two deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq, has written: “It gets clearer and clearer with each passing year that Veterans Day is less about honoring veterans than it is about easing the guilty consciences of those who have sent others to kill and die for reasons that have very little to do with democracy and freedom.” (The Guardian, August 2014) Kurt Vonnegut, one of our great American writers, lived the misery of World War II as a U.S. infantryman in Europe. Vonnegut has one of his characters saying in “Breakfast of Champions”: “Armistice Day has become Veterans Day. Armistice Day was sacred. Veterans Day is not. So, I will throw Veterans Day over my shoulder. Armistice Day I will keep. I don’t want to throw away any sacred things. Veterans Day celebrates ‘heroes’ and encourages going off to kill and be killed in a future war — or one of our current wars.”

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Tiniest Teachers Offer the Greatest Lesson

By Tim Wolcott
(April 2017)

It took me by surprise. I couldn’t see the value of the forest due to the matter of the trees.

Recently I’ve been getting compassion fatigue taking a nursing home resident to church with me. I’ve been feeling helpful, and she would always voice her gratitude as we left services, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that she was her own worst enemy and that I was complicit in her demise. Jane (not her real name) is morbidly obese and would spend her time during the after-service social hour having numerous helpings of cakes, cookies and bagels with extra cream cheese. I felt pained from this dilemma until reading Alain De Botton’s latest novel, called The Course of Love.

I had been reading it to better understand the dynamics of spousal relationships. Mr. De Botton is an expert on emotional intelligence. His global organization, www.theschooloflife.com, offers great resources and a unique vision of education. Little did I anticipate how the section on Children, specifically the chapter on “Love Lessons” would clarify my mind and unweigh my heart.

Our dominant culture emphasizes that love, especially Romantic, is a give and take affair, quid pro quo. Our individualistic culture doesn’t acknowledge contentment with being at someone’s call. Mr. De Botton believes that this particular view of love tends to limit our compassion and frustrate our rational minds. Very young children through their exhausting dependence, egoism and vulnerability offer a different vision of loving to adults who are ready to listen. This kind of love in not based on reciprocity. Its “true goal is nothing less than the transcendence of oneself for the sake of another”.

Children teach us that genuine love is a kind of service. What’s so consequential is that most of us readily accept this service when it pertains to the very young, but ignore its legitimacy when it concerns an adult in need. I was surprised when I realized why my innate compassion for children hadn’t been activated toward Jane. She certainly needed my help, and I should have definitely valued the love that service to her offered me.

Children tutor us in a love based not on admiration for strength, but on compassion for weakness. Moreover, the child teaches the adult that service (love) “should involve an attempt to interpret with maximal generosity what might be going on beneath the surface of difficult and unappealing behavior”.

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Searching for Peace, Once Again

search4peace

Searching for Peace, Once Again

By Tim Wolcott

Soon before the beginning of the current school year, Bob Graves, the Maine-Endwell High School Spartan Theater Company Director, was asked what they were going to present in 2015-2016.  “Would it be another musical or a tragedy?”  The questioner (which was not me) went on, “I really liked when you produced those little plays about peace.”  Bob wasn’t yet sure what the company was going to do, so he honestly admitted, “we haven’t decided yet.”

Mr. Graves recounted this story in his introduction to this season’s first presentation, “Searching for Peace”, a collection of one-act plays and songs with peace as the central theme.  He went on to say, and I paraphrase, “after thinking about all the current wars that are putting American lives at risk, maybe it is time to revisit the theme of peace.”  I am glad he made that decision.  Too often the courage to trumpet peace is drowned out by the false majesty of war.

The present production was very similar to the 2006 production, but had musical interludes and a couple of additional theatrical acts.  The November 7th, 2015 performance was, depending on the piece, poignant, audacious and/or inspirational.

I also had the pleasure of seeing the production in 2006.  This production was a reprise of the four original acts – “How Violence Is Ended”, “The Christmas Truce”, “When the Twins Went to War” and “The War Prayer”.  The staging was different, but the text was the same.  In the Buddhist legend, “How Violence Is Ended”, the clarion call was repeated, “Do not be short-sighted” (seek impulsive revenge) and “Do not be long-sighted” (hold grudges).  “The Christmas Truce” recounts the spontaneous cessation of war on Christmas Eve by German and English troops during W.W.I.  Hearing “Silent Night”, hauntingly sung, in German, offstage while the English trench soldiers become visibly mesmerized by its serenity was very powerful. The message of Mark Twain’s “The War Prayer” could not resonate more.  In that act, a preacher in the pulpit is rallying the congregation to war through biblical passages and patriotic slogans when he is interrupted by a female messenger from God.  She proceeds to translate the preacher’s uplifting rhetoric to its barbaric reality.  After a prolonged silence of rapt understanding, the congregants declare her insane, and the preacher continues his sermon as the play ends.

During the interludes, talented musicians within the cast amplified the powerful content from the dramatic acts.  A faculty member sang, in French, a WWI protest song (while a translation was shown simultaneously) that included the words, “President, if blood be shed, let it be yours.”  John Lennon’s “Imagine” and “Let It Be” were sung to echo the non-violent sentiment of the production.  The evening ended with the entire cast and audience singing Lennon’s “Give Peace a Chance”.

We all do have to participate in giving peace a chance.  This production surely helped us see and hear how.

 

 

 

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We’re Number 88! We’re Number 88! US Ranked Low on Global Peace Index

2012 Global Peace Index shows slightly more peaceful world from 2009

– Common Dreams staff

The just released 2012 Global Peace Index (GPI) from the Institute for Economics and Peace shows that the world has become slightly more peaceful over the last two years, with Iceland ranking as the most peaceful country and Somalia ranking as the least peaceful place. The U.S. ranks 88 of 158.

The index takes into account factors including jailed population, political instability, conflicts fought and military expenditure.

“What comes across dramatically in this year’s results and the six year trends is a shift in global priorities. Nations have become externally more peaceful as they compete through economic, rather than military means. The results for Sub Saharan Africa as a whole are particularly striking – regional wars have waned as the African Union strives to develop economic and political integration.” said Steve Killelea, founder and Executive Chairman of the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP).

“Peacefulness has returned to approximately the levels seen in 2007, but while external measures of peacefulness have improved, there has been a rise in internal conflict. This is particularly noticeable in the rise in fatalities from terrorist acts which have more than trebled since 2003,” states Killelea.

The findings also highlight the fact that peace has an economic advantage. The IEP estimates that global peace in 2011 would have had an economic benefit of $9 trillion.

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Video uploaded by Vision of Humanity with highlights of the 2012 Global Peace Index

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10 Most Peaceful Countries

Source: 2012 Global Peace Index

Rank Country
1 Iceland
2 Denmark
2 New Zealand
4 Canada
5 Japan
6 Austria
6 Ireland
8 Slovenia
9 Finland
10 Switzerland

 

10 Least Peaceful Countries

Source: 2012 Global Peace Index

Rank Country
158 Somalia
157 Afghanistan
156 Sudan
155 Iraq
154 Dem. Republic of Congo
153 Russia
152 North Korea
151 Central African Republic
150 Israel
149 Pakistan

 

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Global Peace Index: Key Findings

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