Veterans for Peace and Occupy Tampa remember Armistice Day

11/11/11 Josh Holton
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It’s Veterans Day in the US and Europe celebrates Armistice Day marking the official end of hostilities in World War I. Veterans for Peace gathered at the Iraq and Afghanistan war memorials in downtown Tampa this morning at 11:11 on the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

A small group of about a dozen people marked the historic time in silence. Jay Alexander is with Veterans for Peace, and regularly protests the ongoing wars in the Middle East. He served in Panama and has since been working to prevent war. Alexander said that many veterans and others have paid a high price.

Sonia Klein was born in London, but she now lives in Florida, and has become an army wife. She has traditionally celebrated this day in remembrance of World War I.

Sergeant Mark Reed served in the US Army in 2003, initially thinking he was going to be stationed in Kuwait. His unit moved into Iraq at the start of the invasion. He says the US military budget is bloated, and that preemptive actions like Operation Iraqi Freedom make the US less secure.

Many people join the military to earn a living. But George Root proposes a re-institution of the Civilian Conservation Corps, which could provide single men with green jobs, and an alternative to war.

HR 494 is a resolution to reinstitute the Depression-era program, and SB 1517 proposes a revival of the Works Progress Administration. Homeless Advocate Reverend Bruce Wright decries the high percentage of homeless veterans, and supports these programs as a way to employ veterans. He has also criticized laws that ban panhandling.

About 70 people with Occupy Tampa marched to the Old Federal Courthouse today. Jeremy Griffin was holding a flag to honor prisoners of war, and soldiers missing in action.

George Taylor held a sign that read, “The cost of war cannot be measured.”

Bob McCallion said his sign was self explanatory. It read, “War is terrorism with a bigger budget.”

Steve Yoczik is a war resister, now with Veterans for Peace. He wanted to avoid being involved in what he called an illegal and immoral occupation of Iraq, where he said we have no reason or justification for going in.

Susan Barimo and her 11 year old daughter Sophia worked to build a staff with hundreds of different colored paper origami cranes hanging from the tip. They wanted to honor twelve-year-old Sadako Sasaki.

Sophia was impressed with Sasaki’s resourcefulness in the face of impending death.

The atomic bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki Japan resulted in more than 240,000 casualties. Her mother Susan said that the cranes represent not only Sasaki, but all human loss from war.

Occupy Tampa usually holds its major marches on Saturdays, and tomorrow they will honor veterans and active military. They say corporations that profit from war have direct and secretive influence on our country's participation in wars. Occupy St. Pete, Occupy Dade City, and Occupy Lakeland will all hold rallies tomorrow morning.

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