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Columbia, Missouri
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Whiteman AFB Armistice Day Demonstration
By Tom Sager

Over 100 Missouri peace activists stood at the gates of Whiteman Air Force Base today in an Armistice Day demonstration to say no to the continued bombing of Afghanistan. November 11, Armistice Day, marks the end of World War I. World War I was thought at the time to be the war to end all wars, because it was such a horrible war that no one would ever fight another; and Armistice Day was a celebration of peace and the end of war. But we all know that's not the way it happened, the world has been in almost perpetual war since then, each one more destructive than the last. The name was changed from Armistice Day to Veterans Day in this country, and the holiday was changed from a celebration of peace to a celebration of war, death, and destruction.

Linda, Tommie, and I represented Rolla at the demonstration, the largest groups being from the Kansas City area and Columbia.

I had a very interesting conversation with a local woman who had come, not to demonstrate, but to dialogue with us. She said that she was in favor of peace too, so I invited her to join us. She then asked me if I didn't think that the men at Whiteman who were fighting for us were heros.

This made me think. No, I could never call someone who drops bombs on people from an airplane a hero. Rather, I would call him a victim of the same madness, arrogance, and greed that has killed 1.5 million Afghans in the past 20 years of fighting, and may kill that many again this winter from starvation and cold, as well as bombing.

I would personally find it difficult to live with myself after being a cog in a machine responsible for the deaths of countless women and children; and I'm not alone in this regard. Many of our veterans have tremendous problems coping with the knowledge of what they have done. They are indeed victims of the madness, arrogance and greed of those who start wars and profit from them.

My heros have always been those who stood up for peace and justice for all people, often against tremendous odds. People like Martin Luther King, Dorothy Day, Kathy Kelly, and Ralph Nader.

My military heros are those who became disgusted with the militarism which they were a part of, and gave leadership to the peace and justice movement. Those who during the Vietnam War returned their war medals and worked to end the war. People like Woody Powell and Fredy Champagne of Veterans for Peace, www.veteransforpeace.org , who have been working tirelessly for years to undo some of the damage done by the wars they were involved in, and to educate, as only a combat veteran can, on the horror and futility of war. And above all, Candy Lovett, a disabled Gulf War veteran, who returned to Iraq this year to ask forgiveness for what she had done during the Gulf War, and to help rebuild some of the water treatment facilities destroyed in the Gulf war.

And I also thought about some local heros, here in central Missouri. People like Mark Haim, who has worked tirelessly for years building a peace movement in central Missouri; and without whom, today's demonstration would never have happened. And Rolla's own Bob Lunsford, who almost single-handedly challenged the University of Missouri-Rolla and the Doe Run Company for polluting the campus and the town with lead - and won.

These are the true heros; not those who drop bombs on women, children, and Red Cross warehouses, under orders from the pentagon.

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