Local veterans give voice to America's past and present warriors
Members of Chapter 39, Veterans For Peace (VFP), will again commemorate Veterans Day with readings of battlefield letters and statements by United States service personnel, fighting America's wars from 1776 to the present.
"The experience of war, expressed by persons actually involved, and shared with persons dear or dearest to him or her, often reveals war's essence more realistically, certainly more personally, than TV or other media usually convey," said Mary Reynolds Powell, Chapter 39 spokesperson and longtime Heights resident (along with her husband, retired physician Douglas Powell).
Powell served as an army nurse in Vietnam, and was president of Chapter 39 when the commemorative readings program was first performed outdoors in 2006, at Coventry P. E.A.C.E. Park.
"By giving voice to these veterans, some of whom were killed in combat, we reintroduce them to contemporary Americans, both to honor and to learn from them," said Powell.
Veterans For Peace will host the sixth annual readings at two Cleveland sites: Lakewood Public Library (15425 Detroit Ave., Lakewood) on Saturday, Nov. 10, 3 p.m.; and Shaker Heights Library (16500 Van Aken Blvd., Shaker Heights) on Sunday, Nov. 11, 3 p.m.
VFP's mission is in part to increase public awareness of the true costs of war, and to abolish war as an instrument of public policy. The performance program cites the 1953 statement of Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, former commander of the Allied armies during World War II, and later president of the United States: “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.”
Veterans For Peace is a national nonprofit 501(c)3 educational organization consisting of men and women veterans of the U.S. military from all service organizations. Non-veterans who support the work of VFP may become associate members. Visit www.veteransforpeace.org for more information.
Walt Nicholes is a World War II veteran and VFP member, and a longtime Heights (Cleveland and Shaker) resident.