12 February 2010

Texas State University : Escalate the Peace!

Bobby Whittenberg, Iraq Vet, at Escalate the Peace! rally, Texas State University in San Marcos, Wednesday, February 10. Photo by Alice Embree / The Rag Blog.

Escalate the Peace!
San Marcos demonstrators rally in the sleet

By Alice Embree / The Rag Blog / February 12, 2010

Neither sleet nor drizzle deterred a scheduled antiwar rally on the Texas State University (TSU) Campus in San Marcos on Wednesday, February 10. In the courtyard of the LBJ Amphitheatre, speakers used bullhorns to talk about Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, and Palestine under a banner that read, “Escalate the Peace!”

The rally was organized by two TSU student organizations, the Campus Antiwar Movement to End the Occupations (CAMEO) and the Progressive Bobcats Union (PBU).

Speakers included Rev. Jim Rigby from St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Austin and Bobby Whittenberg, an antiwar activist who was deployed to Iraq as a Marine. Courtney Glenn, one of the rally organizers, read a poem about returning soldiers. Caitlin Eaves spoke about Yemen. Liz Welch read a passage from Howard Zinn about why we should never lose hope.

I spoke about the Vietnam-era antiwar movement and about the current GI coffeehouse, Under the Hood Café, in Killeen, Texas. These lines from Courtney Glenn’s poem stayed with me:
We are the disorder
with our mislabeled freedom,
our cannon songs,
our flags of blood.

You are the fodder
for rhetoric
and I will exchange
gratitude for
Today’s antiwar movement is often compared with the Vietnam era. But, the comparison usually conjures up 1968 images. On Wednesday, I watched the sleet bounce off the coat of a speaker and remembered what it felt like in 1964 to be among 20 students demanding a negotiated peace in Vietnam.

I was proud to be there with this small and dedicated group, protesting the wars that seem to morph without end, proud that women were speakers and organizers in ways that were uncommon in 1964, proud to see the familiar faces of veterans I know from the Killeen coffeehouse.

In the words of Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

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