27 April 2006 Minutes
Veterans for Peace Chapter 001

Prior to the meeting, the documentary After the Fog was shown, 6:15-7:30 pm. The film featured comments by veterans of the Korean War, WWII, Vietnam, & the Iraq war about their enlistment experiences, their war experiences, and their post-war adjustment experiences. The documentary was put together by a group from Vermont. The quotations between the veterans’ statements were also excellent. A brief discussion followed.

Meeting began at 7:47 pm.

Treasurer’s Report: We have a balance of $5,417. Two thousand dollars originally committed to support the PTSD symposium was not needed. All PTSD expenses are in. The program cost us $6000 and we raised a little over $8000 in donations and entrance fees. Doug also noted that $976 was recently donated to Chapter 001 from proceeds taken from the “Songbird” play at U-Maine Farmington. For three nights, the theater was packed with college students and community members. Doug would like to see this play go on the road to perhaps Deer Isle and Brunswick or other venues. “Songbird” is a play with a cast of 12 involving children and adults w/ lighting and music pre-recorded. It’s a 2 hour show with one intermission. It features the story of a young man in the National Guard who is sent to Iraq. Although there are children in the cast, it is very much an “adult” play with themes and language suitable for mature audiences. Peggy Akers volunteered to send a thank you note to the director for donating all the proceeds to VFP.

April Actions:

April 21—Town hall meeting in Portland. Bruce Gagnon and the rest of the group did a fabulous job. Peggy said she loved it that everyone had a voice. Jack and Faye distributed over 570 post cards to be mailed to our congressional delegation. WMPG was there and will use in a campaign special. Over 60 people spoke. DVD’s will be sent to the congressional politicians and the governor asking them to respond, letting them know that their responses will be shared with those present who have signed the mailing list. This meeting expanded the base of interested people. This was an opportunity for candidates for political office to speak and Jean Hay Bright, Pat Lamarche, Dexter Kamilewicz and Chris Miller spoke. There will be a follow up meeting on May 6 at 1 pm at O’Naturals in Portland.

There was a Lenten vigil at BIW the five Saturdays prior to Easter Sunday. It was noted there was a more positive response than in prior years.

Richard Clements spoke at a rally in Waterville that was organized by young people. Sixty to seventy people were present.

This coming Sat. there will be a march in NYC. Several people indicated they were going.

Dud noted that he went to Camp Casey for Easter with Cindy Sheehan and Rob Shetterly. There he met Ann Wright, Daniel Ellsberg among other national peace activists. Dud also noted there is a publication at $10 each, from New Press “Ten excellent reasons not to join the military” and the book “The Logic of Withdrawal” by Arnove.

Dud also passed out toy soldiers with stickers saying “Bring me home now”. www.mouthswideopen.com. These are being placed strategically throughout communities (banks, libraries, etc). .

Question raised if perhaps Cindy Sheehan would come to speak at the September launch at BIW.

“Sir, No Sir” movie distribution-Michael Uhl says the producer has 500 to give away and that details are on the website IVAW.net

May 29—Memorial Day parade in Brunswick.Stan went to the preliminary meeting and registered VFP for the parade. Alan McGillivray of Farmington is working on the helicopter and the float. Rob Shetterly has approved using his portrait of Hugh Thompson as part of the float. Thompson is the helicopter pilot who put his helicopter between American troops and Vietnamese civilians, saving many Vietnamese lives, during the My Lai massacre. We need a large number of VFP members to participate in this parade. We will also develop a brochure to be passed out at the parade. Doug, Dan Ellis, and John Wirtz will work on that (Peggy will send Doug the cover from a children’s book that might help in developing the brochure). There was discussion about what the banner on the float would say. It would be similar to the lead statement on the brochure. The float will cost us $500 ($250 paid and $250 paid when completed). Anyone with ideas for wording on the banner for the float send to Doug. Dud volunteered to be the photographer during the Memorial Day parade. Bob Dale asked if we might use the same float during the Bath Heritage Day parade on July 4. Bob will check into what is needed for that parade. May 26—Friday night. Bruce, Dud and Doug discussed having a movie or speaker in Brunswick on Friday, May 26th, prior to the Memorial Day Parade.

It was mentioned that Tom Lewis, who was with the Catonsville Nine, might be available to speak at the launch on 16th September. John Wirtz said that he’d check into that possibility.

Maine Social Forum: We continued our discussion of becoming a sponsoring organization at the forum this July. We decided to spend $100 to set up a table at the forum and to present a workshop on non-violence but not to be official sponsors. Stan stated forcefully that they are a peace organization and that we are not being reasonable in our reluctance to join with them. And they stand for exactly the same thing as VFP. Doug thinks that we have to stand by our avowed mission statement: to abolish war and to do so non-violently. It was noted that American Friends Service committee will have a table there as well. Dud questioned if the VFP decision was a slap in the face to the Maine Social Forum & if having a table is sufficient support. Is VFP being picky? Bruce noted that perhaps discussion within VFP prior to approaching Maine Social Forum would have been better. Not really a problem then. Jack will send a letter to the forum expressing our intent to have a table.

PTSD symposium evaluation meeting was held and it was decided that a fall follow-up program focusing on the modern battlefield and post war illnesses would be held. Perhaps a symposium would be held on a regular basis—either annually or semi-annually. VFP has established itself as a strong PTSD voice in Maine. Tom wondered if having multiple programs would dilute the effect. Perhaps we could sponsor legislation calling for testing and treatment of all National Guard Units regarding exposure to depleted uranium. Other states are doing this & perhaps we should focus on this in the fall for the upcoming legislative session. Kim Hawkins is a knowledgeable specialist on depleted uranium who has expressed interest in coming to a meeting to further inform us on the issue.

It was suggested that Seth Burner become an honorary member of Maine VFP Chapter 001. Doug read a letter from Jack making that recommendation. It was noted that we currently have 3 other honorary members—Larry Dansinger, Mariah Holt and Rob Shetterly. It was agreed that we would invite Seth to next month’s meeting in Portland to formally “induct” him as an honorary member.

Doug stated that he thinks of Maine VFP as having three roles: education, street action, and community awareness. Perhaps a fourth could be legislative action. It was suggested that we hold a retreat to discuss our activities in each of these roles and our organizational structure some time in November. It was suggested that this be an overnight retreat.

Other business:

Bob Dale noted that the movie Why we Fight is at the Evening Star Cinema in Brunswick and on May 4 at 7 pm there will be a special showing at which Maine candidates for state and federal offices have been invited to speak after the movie.

Tom Sturtevant noted that the movie Why we Fight is at Bates College May 9 at the Archives and the producer of the film will be there. It was suggested that members attending either of these showings wear their VFP sweatshirts.

Doug noted that Maine VFP has a 1/2 page ad in War Resisters League award program for women.

Doug noted that the 2006 National VFP convention will be in Seattle and at the end of the convention many plan to go to Vancouver, British Columbia to meet up with war resisters from Canada.

Bruce said that the radio ads ($500) to promote the town hall meeting were very good and effective.

Next meeting in Portland, Thursday, May 25th at the Portland Public Library.

The April meeting adjourned at 9:08 pm.