Meeting opened at 7pm
Attendees: Doug Rawlings, Daniel Glover, Don Kimball, Eric Herter, Dan Ellis, Seth Berner, Richard Clement, Dave Larsen, Peter Morgan, Martha Spiess, Peggy Akers, Lynn Ellis, Suzanne Hedrick, Sally Chappell, John Morris
Treasurer’s Report: Current bank balance is $5,317.48. Spending and donation levels are roughly the same as 2022. We have donated $4,158.15 to various causes so far this year. Lynn estimates that we currently have between twenty five and thirty dues paying members and she is reaching out to lapsed members in the hope that some will renew their membership.
Please send in your dues ($35) if you have not already done so.
Doug mentioned that the convention raised more than $10,000 to qualify for Ralph Nader’s matching donation so National VFP is richer by $20,000. We contributed $500 toward the $10,000 goal
VFP Convention: Go to www.veteransforpeace.org to access all of the convention workshops and other events. The convention was dedicated to the memory of recently deceased Daniel Ellsberg and one of the highlights was the convention ending address by long time activist Kathy Kelly.
Common Ground Fair: 9/22,23,24 – 9am to 6pm each day. Theme: Golden Rule. Booth staffing as follows:
Friday: Richard, Rita, Daniel G., Eric, Peter
Saturday: Peggy, Peter, John, Eileen Manglass (9 to 1)
Sunday: Richard (and maybe Rita), Doug, Peter, John
Richard, Doug, and Lynn will supply materials for display and Daniel will bring a sign for “International Day of Peace” (Sept,21st).
Lynn will distribute vendor passes (electronically) to those who request them. (nine free passes). The chapter will cover the $12 cost if more than nine are needed.
Doug reported that he was contacted by Robyn Belcher who wants to show the film “What I Want You To Know” which features thirteen veterans (one of whom is Garrett Reppenhagen) discussing the issue of moral injury resulting from their tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. She asked if our chapter would be willing to sponsor two showings of the film, one somewhere in southern Maine on Veterans Day and one in Bangor on Nov.18. It was agreed that we would be happy to be listed as a sponsor. No money would be involved in our sponsorship.
Lynn reported that she still has VFP t-shirts (long sleeved) left and to contact her if interested in acquiring one.
Daniel asked if the chapter has ever been involved in either the “International Day of Peace (this year on Sept. 21) or the “International Week of Peace” (beginning Sept.29). The IDP has traditionally called for a worldwide cease fire in all wars on that day. We have not but will entertain any ideas that members might have on the issue. Go to www.internationaldayofpeace.org for more info.
Kimball’s Kitchen: It was moved, seconded, and passed unanimously to provide an annual sum of $2000 to Don’s weekly food and clothing aid to unhoused and needy individuals in Portland. Lynn will send $500 to Don on a quarterly basis beginning Sept.1. Food and clothing donations may be dropped off on any Saturday before 11am across from the post office on Forest Avenue in Portland. Don is being assisted on Saturdays by Eric and also VFP members Dave Crowley and Bill Higgins.
Don also reported that Portland police officers dismantled the homeless encampment in Deering Oaks Park which could possibly affect participation in his food operation, but that Kathleen Coughlan suggested that St. Luke’s Church on State Street might possibly be an alternative food distribution location.
Don also reported that he attended a conference on August 4 on homeless veterans at USM which included a talk by VA Secretary Dennis McDonagh and was also attended by Senator King and Representative Pingree. There are some two hundred homeless vets in Maine.
Don also plans to attend an event in Shanksville PA to commemorate the crew of the fourth hijacked airplane on 9/11/01 Their efforts thwarted the attempt of the terrorists to fly the plane into either the White House or the US Capitol.
Golden Rule: Doug reported that the boat’s stay in Maine was a success in all respects and that Helen Jaccard and her crew were suitably impressed with our efforts. Special thanks to Peter, Martha, Peggy, and Doug for all their work and to Physicians for Social Responsibility for their fundraising which resulted in chapter expenses of only $500. The banquet at DeMillo’s attracted eighty-three people and was enjoyed by all. Our convention ad featuring a photo of the Golden Rule at Bath Iron Works was the one that opened the convention.
Doug reported that he and Midori Morrow will do a Zoom presentation on 9/13 about Midori’s trip to Japan to attend events commemorating the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Don reported that the committee to promote signage on Samantha Smith Way is still operational and hopes to have signs installed on the Turnpike itself in addition to the ones currently installed on the approaches to the Pike.
Doug gave a short summary of his trip to Vietnam and will give a slide show presentation at the Portland Media Center on Sept. 17 from 3 to 5pm for the benefit of Physicians for Social Responsibility and VFP in particular, however the public is also invited to attend. He may possibly make more presentations if requested and he expressed his thanks to the chapter for our support of the trip.
Peter requested a discussion of the disagreement within Veterans For Peace as to the proper course of action by the US government regarding the Russian invasion of Ukraine. He pointed out that individuals have been sanctioned by organization officials for their views and implied that such views would not be tolerated. Doug agreed that such actions have indeed occurred and that this has caused division in the membership.
Daniel asked for a clarification on the “schism” and Doug explained that it was essentially a matter of whether or not the US should continue to support and send arms to Ukraine in their efforts to defeat Russia. He pointed out that the official position of VFP National is that there should be a cease fire combined with negotiations to bring about an end to the war. The prevailing sentiment among the members who weighed in on the issue seemed to be in favor of this position. It was pointed out that although we are a 501c3 organization and therefore cannot directly support political parties or candidates for office, we do have the right to express our views on policy matters. Doug pointed out some of the similarities between Ukraine and Vietnam, in particular the existence of internal peace movements, resistance within the ranks of the military, and the use of cluster munitions. He showed slides of the long range effects of cluster bombs in Vietnam, bombs that are being supplied to Ukraine by the US. Don reported that Representative Chellie Pingree told him that negotiations are taking place “behind the scenes”, for what that is worth. Eric recommended Medea Benjamin’s book, “War in Ukraine; Making Sense of a Senseless Conflict” in which she highlights the dangers of escalation and the need for negotiations. As a chapter, we are not endorsing any particular position on the Ukraine issue.
Daniel mentioned the high rate of veteran suicides, especially among younger vets who seved in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Don reported on a new documentary on drone warfare, “Beyond the Horizon”. The film will be the subject of next week’s “Friendly Fire” episode on WMPG.
He also reported that he and Peter attended a meeting of the Maine Gun Safety Coalition and reiterated the fact that much remains to be done to reduce gun violence.
Finally, he reported that Willard Hunter from Chapter 63 in Albuquerque would be available to speak on the subject of nuclear weapons if we would be interested.
Doug reported that he would be a guest on Chris Hedges’ show on 10/5, also that he and Martha would be speaking on the subject of peace at UMF on 10/27, and that he and Chuck Searcy will be featured on Don’s Friendly Fire broadcast sometime in late September.
The meeting adjourned at 8:45pm. Next meeting on 9/28.