VFP CHAPTER 001
Lewiston/Auburn College, Lewiston, Maine
Meeting preceded by showing documentary “Sir, No Sir”.
Meeting began at 7:02 pm. Twenty-two members present.
Introductions were made.
Michael Uhl said that Gabriela, who works with National, has breast cancer. A get well card was passed around for all to sign.
Discussion of “Sir! No Sir!” –where are they now? Michael Uhl was part of the filming of this project, a documentary asking the question, “Where are the thousands who protested the war in the 1960’s and 1970’s?” These people are not seen or heard and the movement has changed, now more grassroots and community based. Bruce said he felt some people went along at the time and now there’s been a shift in focus—mortgage, kids in college etc. Michael stated Jane Fonda is still involved as an anti-war activist, although not as hard core. In those times there was a draft and as the body count in Vietnam increased, public sentiment against the war grew dramatically. Now the war is hidden. Question—can this movie be sent through the internet to Iraq? Tom stated there have been 8000 desertions in Iraq according to USA Today.
Doug said Stan Lofchie has asked if he could be the representative of chapter 001 at the march in NYC on April 30, organized by groups (including VFP) honoring the Abraham Lincoln brigade. Members present agreed.
Jack Bussell spoke about the moving Vietnam Memorial scheduled to be in South Portland August 11-13. It is a 3/4 facsimile of THE WALL owned by one of the country’s largest cemetery companys. Questions—does it glorify war and do we want a presence at this memorial?? Doug stated that a similar display was at UMF eight years ago, but this particular version seems to be coming from another source. We will think on this issue and discuss at next meeting.
Minutes of last meeting were reviewed. Arthur commented that Maine Fair Trade-AFL-CIO had not been paid the $100, nor had Annie O’Brien received the $50 we approved last month. Minutes approved as corrected.
Video library: Peggy has lots of videos and Dud volunteered to take them to add to his collection and become the official Chapter 001 film archivist.
Treasurer’s report—PTSD Symposium program revenue, $6,525. Expenses $6,483. We did not have to draw on the $2,000 from VFP. Very successful program financially and programatically. Great job by all involved.
Budget for Maine Share—$9,483 for fiscal year 2006.
Arthur report the 990 form has been completed. We still have $5,000 in the bank—in good shape. Arthur pursuing tax exempt registration—will report next month.
March actions and events:
Richard and Rita spoke to about 100 people in Bangor and Richard was part of a panel at USM law school. Various members reported hearing very positive responses to their presentations. Excellent. Among other remarks, Richard and Rita pointed out that national safety involves more than just being in war. It is child care, economic, education and housing— their remarks were considered stimulating. Dud said Hilsa Peterson of Peace and Justice thought Richard and Rita did a great job, and they can be heard on the internet billed as the “key address.”
PTSD symposium had 130 participants including 30 health care professionals, PTSD vets, family members and some homeless veterans. All but one of the evaluations were highly positive. Representative Mike Michaud was present for the first hour. He has an interest in veterans’ health issues since he is a member of the House Health Sub-committee on Veterans Affairs. There was good press coverage. Channel 6 & 8 covered well. The committee will meet soon to evaluate the program. Don Harden did a great job. CEU’s were granted. Arthur said he spoke with Glenn Shiraldi who said he didn’t know much about the depleted uranium. Don reported VFP gained good recognition in the professional community and provided PTSD tools for professionals. It was good to have vets talking to vets and the positive family impact. Perhaps this program opens teaching opportunities in the future. Don Harden stated that the Department of Human Services is very excited about our work together on the PTSD issue and wants to do more with us. They do not want a disconnect. Don will continue to represent us in this endeavor. A Navy lieutenant who attended the symposium was very moved by the PTSD presentation, as were Senator Inn staff members who were involved in cleaning up afterwards. Coverage of the PTSD Symposium (featuring excellent statements by Michael Uhl) followed Sergeant Cory Dan’s funeral coverage on channel 6.
Doug reported that on March 20th he (as a representative of VFP) and two other community activists took a “full disclosure packet” to the Farmington Recruiting Center. Press were notified and attended the meeting with a local recruiter. The packet included information on PTSD, DU, and women’s issues. On the same day, Doug led a “die-in” at the university as a representative of VFP and joined a two hour protest with the VFP banner (good picture in the Lewiston Sun). Good press coverage of all activities in Lewiston and Franklin County papers. The three activists will check back later to see how the recruiters will use about their packet.
Peggy has spoken in two Portland schools with a pro-war person and a conscientious objector person. Schools still are very hard to get into. Doug said Peggy is doing a great job – she spoke to a UMF class on Women and War and left them “stunned”. Jack and Arthur did a presentation in Auburn—also excellent. Jack will be in Ogunquit next week. Doug will be in Maranacook High School on the 27th, showing “Voices in Wartime” and leading a writing seminar afterwards. Next Tuesday Dud is meeting with the local school board on the island questioning the right to posting.
The civil rights team at Wiscasset High School is holding a Civil Rights day and would like a VFP representative. Any takers??????
Waterville, 15th April, a student is organizing a peace event and would like a VFP speaker. Richard and Rita agreed to be there.
Dud reported that the Collins event in Bangor garnered front page space in the Bangor paper. Rob Shetterly spoke at the end of the event. Rob also wrote a letter to the editor of the Bangor Daily News. Dud had met with the managing editor prior to the event and is thinking that the meeting had a positive influence toward the excellent press coverage. Bruce reported the Coastal Journal had an article today and an editorial critical of VFP. He urged people to write letters to the Coastal Journal.
Doug reported the showing of “Songbird”, an improvisational play about Iraq and its impact at home written by Farmington playwright Jayne Decker, will be performed at UMF April 13-14-15—starting time 7:30 pm. All proceeds go to Maine VFP chapter 001.
Jack spoke about the Maine Social Forum and their 14 principles; he is concerned because the organizers of the Maine social forum do not explicitly speak against war and violence. There was much discussion. Two of the principles seem to speak to non-violence. Michael Uhl said the group does not support war—feels that if we do not sponsor we might be cutting off our noses to spite our face. Michael feels that we can be participants but not be a co-sponsor. We could maintain a table display that speaks to the issues of war and non-violence. Bruce said we need to work with our allies in this time and suggested we join as a sponsor and have a table. Dud agreed with Bruce indicating it is a time to build bridges, while acknowledging Jack’s point. Jack said he would drop the anti violence issue as long as the anti-war is clear. Information on Maine Social Forum is available at www.mainesocialforum. We agreed to contribute $100 to the forum, allowing us to have a table. We’ll continue the discussion at the next meeting.
Iraq town hall meeting 21 April 6:30 pm. Hannaford lecture hall, USM. Bruce requested 10 days air time on AirAmerica and 50 ads for $400 in the two week period leading up to April 21. Was moved by Dud, seconded by Jack —approved. Jack will record the ad.
Jack is coordinating a post card campaign to our representatives to stop the war. Moved by Peggy, seconded by Dud that we spend $160 for the 500 postcards and postage.
Memorial Day parade in Brunswick—Hugh Thompson and his heroic rescue of Vietnam civilians during the My Lai massacre will be the theme. A detailed sketch of the proposed float designed by Alan McGillivray (a friend of Doug’s who has had extensive experience designing floats down in New Orleans) was passed around. We’ll use Richard and Rita’s trailer as the base and a helicopter will be added above the trailer. Will cost $500 to build- $250 up front…$250 at completion. We’ll have 6 foot panels at the back. Moved by Bruce, seconded by Doug—approved. Tom said we should buy books on Hugh Thompson and give to local libraries in the area. Approved. Doug said that we should design brochures about Thompson to be passed out at the parade. Bruce stated that on May 26, prior to the Memorial day parade, a movie dealing with My Lai will be shown at the Brunswick library.
Jack said on Veterans’ Day on Nov. 11th we could use a similar float.
National United Peace and Justice dues—recommended amount $50. Moved by Bruce, seconded by Jack. Approved.
Jack said there will be a launch at BIW on Sept 16. An event at Riverside Park prior to the launch. Doug to ask Howard Zinn if he will speak. Jack requested the sound system for 9/16.
Jack reported the Portland public schools is still debating the opt-in / opt-out equal access policy. Seth Berner has volunteered his legal services and is in touch with Harry Pringle of the Portland school system.
Arthur reminds us that Israel has stated they will attack Iran if the nuclear issue is not settled.
Meeting adjourned at 9:10.
NEXT MEETING: APRIL 27TH, BRUNSWICK (AT THE SENIOR PLUS CENTER AT THE CORNER OF MAINE STREET AND NOBLE STREET — ACROSS FROM BOWDOIN COLLEGE). AT 6:00PM THE DOCUMENTARY “ AFTER THE FOG: INTERVIEWS WITH COMBAT VETERANS” WILL BE SHOWN. THE BUSINESS MEETING WILL BEGIN AT 7:15PM.