By Elaine Hegwood Bowen, M.S.J., Chicago Crusader
The nation’s only veteran organization fully dedicated to abolishing all war, Veterans for Peace, is hosting their first Chicago Convention and Music Festival August 9 through August 13 at the Palmer House Hilton Hotel (17 E. Monroe St.).
Now in its 32nd year, the Veterans for Peace convention is themed “Education Not Militarization” and will feature a public Veterans Town Hall with the same name on Thursday, August 10, at 7 p.m. (First United Methodist Church, 77 W. Washington St #2). Veterans will discuss how increased militarization and inadequate education impact immigration, violence, sexism, the environment, policing, and the social and psychological well-being of our neighborhoods.
They are also presenting their very first music festival “Power to Peace Festival” at The Vic Theatre (3145 N. Sheffield Ave.) on Friday, August 11, at 6 p.m. Closing night for the Convention includes a special performance and benefit for “Veterans for Peace” by Jackson Browne on Sunday, August 13, at Copernicus Theatre (5216 W. Lawrence Ave.) at 7:30 p.m.
Veterans for Peace, an international organization of military veterans of all ages, will host workshops, panels, present speakers, host a banquet, present film screenings and provide musical entertainment. Their mission since 1985 has been to build a new culture of peace, expose the costs of war, heal the wounds of war, seek justice for veterans and victims of war, end the arms race, and reduce and eventually end nuclear weapons.
“We are excited to be traveling to Chicago to join our local chapter, in hosting our convention. Chicago has a rich history of political activism, and this is an opportunity to build on what the local chapter has been doing around linking struggles abroad and at home. As veterans, we know that the cost of war has lasting implications for our communities and our neighborhoods,” says Michael McPhearson, Executive Director of Veterans For Peace.
He added: “It is critical for us to stand and struggle united across what I call a full spectrum movement for peace and justice. We must be hand in hand in this struggle to confront patriarchy, fight racism, end wars and to move forward all our struggles, not only because it is just and right, but because it is necessary for us to survive as a species.”
National Board Advisories of Veterans for Peace include activists and former veterans-turned celebrities: Yoko Ono, actor Ed Asner (Lou Grant), Director Oliver Stone, musician Jackson Browne and Ralph Nadar, among others.
Speakers at the convention include: Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, retired U.S. Army Colonel and former Chief of Staff to U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell. Captain Paul K. Chappell, Iraq War veteran, a published author with a Peace Book series, lecturer, college teacher on Peace Leadership and the Director of Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Jr., a minister and community activist who is also an influential member of the political Hip Hop movement. Yearwood currently serves as President of the Hip Hop Caucus, a national non-profit, non-partisan organization that empowers young people to participate in elections, policymaking and service projects.
A night of musical and cultural exchange will take place by former Veteran musicians, poets, Chicago bands and DJs at the Festival. The talent includes Chicago’s jazz singer Maggie Brown; alternative rock band, Acres to Miles; DJ Dapper; Oklahoma’s national blues star, Watermelon Slim; Indiana’s pop-singer Kaylee Shahira; former veterans-turned musicians: James Toler, the U.K.’s Jim Radford and Rap/Hip Hop performers Megacciph and Brittney Chantele. There will also be a Poetry Cipher by three female veterans: Sarah Mess, Norma Mahns, and Brittney Chantele.
The documentary films that will be screened are: “Beyond the Divide,” a story about the political and emotional divides between active duty soldiers in Vietnam and the burgeoning peace community at home in the United States; “A Bold Peace,” the story of Costa Rica’s 68-year victory to abolish their military; and “Three Tours” a documentary on three U.S. vets returning from Iraq who work to heal their wounds and battle with P.T.S.D.
About Veterans for Peace:
Veterans For Peace is an international organization made up of military veterans, military family members and allies; accepting veteran members from all branches of service. The networks are made up of over 120 chapters across the United States and abroad. The organization is dedicated to building a culture of peace, exposing the true costs of war, and healing the wounds of war.
For tickets, visit: http://www.victheatre.com/event/1504204-1st-annual-power-peace-chicago/. For more information about the organization, visit: www.veteransforpeace.org.