In Honor of Peg McIntire
While just in Florida we took a one-day side trip to St. Augustine to visit our dear friend Peg McIntire. Peg just turned 97 and remains active in the peace movement. The photo above is her at this year's School of the Americas demonstration at Fort Benning in Georgia. The day we visited Peg she had spent the morning surveying the public in front of the public library on homeless issues. She told us that a few days before she had gone north to Jacksonville to speak at a rally and in October she had travelled to Orlando to address a big anti-war event.
I've known Peg for at least 20 years and she has become like a second mother to me. For many years she served as the Treasurer of the Florida Coalition for Peace & Justice which I coordinated for many years. She has been a loyal member and supporter of the Global Network since its creation and has been arrested doing civil disobedience at the space center in Florida numerous times.
Peg, in addition to all her other activities, still ably coordinates her chapter of Grandparents for Peace.
As I write this the Congress is working on a new funding bill for the Iraq occupation and the war in Afghanistan. Once again it is likely that the Democrats will talk big about ending the occupation and then in the end roll over and give Bush the money he wants.
The money that is being wasted on war making is just mind blowing. Just days ago we heard that the Pentagon has lost $1 billion in Iraq. How could that happen except for outright stealing or handing the money over to the "enemy" so they can buy more weapons on the black market thus giving the U.S. a "good excuse" to stay in Iraq because it is such a mess.
Now a new story has come out saying that the Army is undertaking a $200 billion modernization program (called Future Combat Systems) to make all their forces "net-centric". According to an article in the Washington Post, "The project involves creating a family of 14 weapons, drones, robots, sensors and hybrid-electric combat vehicles connected by a wireless network. It has turned into the most ambitious modernization of the Army since World War II and the most expensive Army weapons program ever, military officials say."
In real terms double or triple that cost estimate and you get an idea how much of your money will be thrown down the rat hole on this one. What happened to all the fiscal conservatives? Hell, they are getting rich off this stuff.
Today, the Army program involves more than 550 contractors and subcontractors in 41 states and 220 congressional districts, a wide dispersal of Department of War funds that generates political subservience.
Ok, so what does Peg have to do with the Army's Future Combat Systems program? What is the connection?
First, I'd say that Peg's life indicates that we have to be committed to our resistance work as a lifetime goal. We can't just dabble in it as a sideline. Age is not a ticket out of the struggle. Peg is in this for the revolutionary change that is needed.
Secondly, we have to understand that just writing letters or showing up a demonstrations is not enough. Sometimes we have to step across the line at our non-violent actions and go to jail if need be. You can imagine the attention she gets when she takes such a step and gets arrested. In Florida she is a legend.
Lastly, I'd say we can learn from Peg that a sense of joy, hopeful expectation, and wonder is important to maintain as we do our work. She is never naive but is always ready to embrace the unexpected. She reaches deep into people just by her own unwavering steadiness. Peg, unlike me, does not preach. She just sets an example by her actions and her life.
Zillions of people have told Peg "I want to be just like you when I grow up." I am one of those people.
Bruce K. Gagnon
Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
PO Box 652
Brunswick, ME 04011