August 18, 2005

Maine VFP Chapter 001

Meeting: Portland, Peace & Justice Center, 7:00 pm

President Doug Rawlings called the meeting to order at 7:07 pm.  The minutes of the June 30 meeting were approved with the following corrections:  John & Debbie Howe live in Waterford (not Waterville).  The Post Traumatic Stress book by Glenn R. Sheraldi was published in 2000.

The Treasurer reported a balance of $5909.08.  Recent receipts included the semi-annual grant (7/25) from Maine Share of $2575.83 as well as several new memberships of $75.  Expenditures included $210 for a quarter-page ad in the Maine Principal’s Association publication.  Anticipated expenses are $1800 for book covers, which will be distributed in the near future – contact Peggy Akers.

The Captain William Ladd series of Free Public Forums co-sponsored by The Harward Center for Community Partnerships at Bates College and VFP Chapter #001 in celebration of its first 20 years was launched July 29th with AN EVENING WITH THE ADAM & ARLIE HOCHSCHILD.  The Hochschilds, who live in San Francisco and Turner, are internationally recognized authors.  They spoke on “Finding Our Way in Bush’s America” to an audience of over 100. VFP President Doug Rawlings and Treasurer, Arthur Whitman moderated the two-hour session; many searching questions were asked.  The speakers agreed with a statement from one listener that we need to be speaking with people with whom we disagree as we seek to resolve critical issues of our time.

A committee of three (Arthur Whitman, Doug Rawlings and Dr. Tom Whitney) was named to plan future forums.  N.B.:  An agenda for quarterly sessions is being planned with a similar format; possibly adding additional Forums as issues arise. The facilities in Pettingill Hall at Bates were ideal and articles in the Lewiston Sun Journal, both before and after the event, were well received. A Free publication distributed widely in the area also included the announcement of the first Forum.

Recent activities involving VFP with other Peace organizations:

  1. A demonstration at the Bath Iron Works with 20 to 25 participating at the launch of an Egis Destroyer.
  2. The Brunswick Peace Fair on the Green with 17 organizations participating and many activities for children.  VFP displayed an eight-foot poster titled the Cost of War. Many stopped to read the entire text, especially young people of military age.  VFP members were on hand to discuss counter recruiting.  There was excellent publicity before and after the event. With $400 in proceeds the organizing group was planning weekly Confrontation Cafes.
  3. Reported by Jack Bussell:  Discussion with Representative Tom Allen on the issue of “Opt out / Opt in” referring to military recruiting in Maine schools and HR551, a legislative action.
  4. Report of Maine Street Moms planning to “adopt a School Board” program
  5. Report that Morse High School in Bath has adopted a policy of “military recruiters permitted only in the Guidance Office”.
  6. A student at the Freeport High School is heading up similar restrictions on military recruiting and providing space for counter recruitiing.


Celebrating 20 Years of Waging Peace

President Doug Rawlings represented the Captain William Ladd Chapter #001 spoke enthusiastically of the meeting.  As a founding member 20 years ago in Auburn, Maine he accepted on behalf of the Chapter a plaque recognizing that event.  He distributed recognition pins to Founding VFP members present (Tom Sturtevant of Winthrop and Victor Skorapa of Harpswell) and will distribute pins to others involved in the early history of VFP: Jerry & Judy Genesio (Jerry was first National President) of Bridgeton, Michael Uhl of South Bristol (Uhl’s excellent write-up is attached to these minutes.) and Brian Wilson who was run over by a munitions train in California.

Keynote speakers and special guests included Professor Satoru Konishi who was sixteen and a victim of the A-bomb dropped on Hiroshima.  He is the Assistant Secretary General of the Japanese Confederation of Atomic and Hydrogen Bomb Suffers’ Organizations; Dahr Jamail, a widely published reporter on the realities of the Iraq war; Mike Hoffman, a Marine Corporal who founded Iraq Veterans Against the War; Cindy Sheehan, founding member pf Gold Star Families for Peace and a member of Military Families Speak Out.  She left the VFP meeting in Dallas to confront President Bush with about 50 VFP delegates and set up a vigil near the gate of the President’s Ranch in Crawford, Texas.  As a result of her action over 1000 vigils were held across the country.  Her question for the President (yet unanswered):  What is the “noble cause” for which my son Casey died?

Other outstanding speakers at the VFP Annual Meeting included Camilo Mejia who was sentenced to a year in prison for refusing to return to Iraq after his home leave.  (He was the first Iraq War veteran to file for discharge from the Army as a conscientious objector.); Jim Hightower, a well known national radio commentator and author broadcasting on over 100 stations (he was twice elected as Texas Agriculture Commissioner); and Jesselyn Radack, an attorney in the Department of Justice who has lost her job because of her advice to the Department on the ethics of an FBI interrogation of John Walker Lindh (the “American Taliban”) without his family-hired attorney with him.

Doug Rawlings was able to attend only two of the many workshops:  Counter Recruiting and The Roots of War.  Discussion of these and other workshops may be found on the VFP website.

Many resolutions were presented including one from the Maine Chapter proposing a new classification of VFP membership for High School and Junior High students (this resolution was rejected because it would involve creating a new membership category, which would require a change in by-laws).

The National VFP Treasurer reported an accounting error that resulted in a necessary $51,000 adjustment.  While that does not jeopardize the organization financially,  Chapters were asked make donations to fill the gap.

VOTED:   To ask Chapter #001 members who are able to make a one-time donation to enable the State Treasurer to send a contribution of $500 to the National organization.

Membership:  National reported 10,000 names in the data base with 5000 National dues-paying and 3600 enrolled in Chapters.  Maine has approximately 150 dues-paying members.

Coming Events

Distribution of 6000 Book Covers to High School Guidance Counselors and Social Study teachers in early September in packets of 50 or 100.  Contact: Vice President Peggy Akers 761-4526 to help.

August 26 Lewiston Reading of Names at Senator Susan Collins office of those who have died in Iraq War. VFP will be joining other Peace Organizations gathering at 9:00 am corner of Main and Lisbon Streets and continuing throughout the day.  An equal number of American military and Iraqi civilian names will be read.  Come dressed with VFP cap and T-shirt if possible.

September 9th All-night vigil in Brunswick preparatory to the protest the next date of the Blue Angels.

September 10th Action: a protest demonstration in opposition to the use of  the Blue Angels as a recruiting tool for the Navy and Air Force.  This is the first known demonstration against this popular two-day public event.  All participants are asked gather on the Brunswick Green on Saturday at 8:00 – 9:00 am and walk to the Naval Air Station (1.5 miles).  Over 500 from Peace Organizations are expected; plan to show up; volunteer to be a Marshal – (orange vests or armbands to be available).  Speakers: Kathy Kelley and others (to be announced).

Voted: to print 1000 flyers to be distributed at the event.

September 18th Fundraiser at Bradbury Mountain, Hike and Bike, followed by good food.  Veterans for Peace members are urged to participate in this major activity supporting VFP and many service organizations across the State. The Fundraiser is supported by business organizations and individual donors.

September 23, 24, 25th Common Ground Country Fair, Unity, Maine.  VFP has reserved a corner table.  The theme will be Counter Recruiting; Informing Young People and Parents. Ken Meyers, National VFP Treasurer to speak. Volunteers helping with the booth should contact Doug Rawlings for a daily pass or the Treasurer – 783-785 for reimbursement of admission expenses.

September 24th March on Washington – two buses from Maine, 2nd bus half full.  Contact: John Lezer – 865-0655.

September 30th Pax Christie Retreat, Winslow. –  Auxiliary Bishop of Detroit and Founder of Bread for the World to speak at a public meeting.  VFP members are welcomed.  Contact: Bill Slavic for further details – 773-6562.

October 22 proposed Traumatic Stress Disorder workshop with Glenn R. Sharalde, author of the book on the subject.  It was recommended that his $2300 fee be shared with a Mental Health agency or hospital.  Hopefully the co-sponsor would also share facilities for the workshop.  We decided to postpone the conference until the spring.  Don Harden is working on getting health organizations to co-sponsor the day; Tim Blanchette has contacted Glenn Schiraldi, who has agreed to be the keynote speaker on a Saturday sometime in March.  More details to follow.

Veterans Day November 11th  – Walk down Congress Street, Portland


  • Perry O’Brian has left for college, Ithica, NY, having spoken at many High Schools in Maine on Counter-Recruiting – over 200 students at the Portland High School.  Congratulations Perry.
  • A draft pictorial booklet on THE COSTS OF WAR with many grim pictures was circulated.  There is opportunity for additional pictures and editing.  Discussion related to how best to use the booklet if produced.
  • HERE, BULLET – a small booklet of poems by Brian Turner and published by Alice James Books of Farmington is available.  Contact Doug Rawlings – 293-2580.
  • Master sergeant Stan Goff may be willing to lead a William Ladd Forum in November, possibly at Farmington, Bates, Colby or Thomas College.  Bill Slavick and Doug Rawlings to initiate.

Next meeting: Thursday, September 29th  – Augusta , 7:00 pm

Respectively submitted:  Arthur H. Whitman, Secretary Pro Temp.