Colorado chapters of the Veterans for Peace found a welcoming atmosphere in this year’s Veteran’s Day Parade despite a rough experience in both Denver and around the country in 2016. Veterans for Peace entered the parade to spread messages of peace and to end military responses to conflict.
Important to veteran Travis Weiner to convey to the public was the prevention of war along with the honoring of veterans. Weiner marched in the 2017 Veterans Day Parade in Denver, “It’s important to me to show people during a Veteran’s Day Parade which rightly is supposed to be and often is dedicated to honoring veterans, but what can often happen is that [a] thin line between the glorification and feticization of militarism and war can bleed over into appreciating veterans. So it’s very important to us to show people that there are many veterans who do not feel proud of their service depending on what they did, and who studied the issue academically, and who believe as I do, that most of the wars [in which] we participate have no possible sane, base connection to defending our homeland and defending freedom.”
Indeed Weiner (photo left, standing to right) reflected on public comment at the group’s presence in the march, and especially to the parade observers who yelled out, “Thanks for keeping us safe.” He said that much of the public is misinformed, “So when we’re marching in Denver and we hear people say, as we did today, well meaning, but ‘thank you for keeping us safe’ that’s the whole reason we’re there. To educate people and to say that yes, at some level individuals in our armed forces keep us safe, but that is a microcosm of what the gargantuan military complex has become. The fact that those things get intermixed and that people confuse those two things is very concerning for individuals like me and others who shed blood. People died over there to lie or obscure the real reasons for that and to paint a rosy picture over that, is in my mind dishonoring those people, but that’s just my opinion.”
Those “real reasons” were also expressed in 2016 by Army veteran Matt Stys who now resides near Colorado Springs. Stys told The Nation Report that during his deployment that he never saw evidence of protecting freedom or democracy, but only facilitating corporate operations that were operating for profit.
The top government contractors are weapons manufacturers such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics, Raytheon, Northrup Grumman, United Technologies, L3 Communications, Bae Systems, Huntington Ingalls Industries. Since the start on the “War on Terror” weapons sales have tripled along with casualties from war. Military spending for 2016 reached $741.3 billion with over $3 billion of that total going to military contractors. Lockheed Martin’s weapons contract totaled $28 billion to Saudi Arabia following President Trump’s deal with Saudi Arabia for a $110 billion for weapons.
The $28 billion that is slated to go to Lockheed Martin has alerted activists to show up at weapons dealers offices in protest. Codepink responded to the Saudi deal with Lockheed Martin, “The company is selling the Saudi military everything from integrated air and missile defense systems to combat ships to tactical aircraft and rotary wing technologies. All will be used to further the proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia in Yemen that has been aggravating both regional and international tensions. Yemen’s Houthi militia, which controls large portions of the country and is aligned with Iran, is battling Saudi Arabia and its allies for control of the country and strategic ports along the Yemeni coast.The Trump administration’s derogatory language, along with recent new sanctions it imposed on Tehran, will not de-escalate the situation, it will only escalate the state of war. This war has lead to widespread famine of women an children in Yemen.”
Weiner refers to Iraq and Afghanistan to convey similar sentiments when he is approached by young people about joining the military, “I urge people to think long and hard about it. And particularly during these wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, that at this point don’t have much to do with keeping us safe. In other words if we drew down and withdrew, we would not be invaded by Iraqis and the Taliban.”
Audio report of Travis Weiner interview with Daria Guerra-Leverne: