For those of us who experienced the Vietnam era, these are troubling times. The invasion of Iraq, and all its ramifications of deaths overseas and neglect of issues at home is heart-wrenching. I'm pleased to see, particularly in Maine, that the weekly peace vigils all across the state are increasing, the number of people involved in them is growing, and the response from passing cars is encouraging. I'm sure this is a growing movement across the country as well.
Here in Maine I have joined various peace and Veterans groups at meetings, demonstrations, rallies, readings of the Iraqi war dead, forums, marches, and in parades, including the Memorial Day Parade in Bangor. This holiday weekend I'll be marching with Democrats as a peace candidate in several parades. While most people in parades toss out candy, my supporters pass out my home-grown organic shell peas with the message "gives peas a chance."
Some may see passing out peas as a gimmick, but it gets people's attention, and we need more of that . We need even more ways for people to express their outrage over the war, for people to know that they are not alone in their anguish. We need some protest songs that speak to all generations, like the songs we heard during the Vietnam War.
So last week I teamed up with a friend from Massachusetts, Patrick Scanlon, to try to get more people to speak out against the Iraq War. We're using a decades-old medium to get our message out - the protest song.
Pat is a graduate of the U.S. Army Intelligence School, a Vietnam veteran turned environment and peace activist. In 1969, Pat held a Top Secret security clearance and was working in the Army Intelligence Bomb Damage Assessment Headquarters in Saigon.
He's also a musician, who over the years has used his talents to support such causes as nuclear disarmament and recycling. His experiences in Vietnam still haunt him, and are what drives him to work for peace.
Pat has produced two new Iraq War protest songs, "Where is the Rage?" and "I Have a Feeling I've Been Here Before."
These are very powerful songs, the 21st century equivalent of 'Blowing in the Wind.' People concerned about what's happening in this country and around the world need to hear them.
"I Have a Feeling I've Been Here Before" plays on the many comparisons between the Vietnam and Iraq experience. Pat says he's finding the song rings true to those who lived the Vietnam war - whether in the jungles of Vietnam or in the streets of America.
"Where Is the Rage" expresses the sentiments of Vietnam veterans and others who find it hard that so many Americans are detached from the Iraq war.
When I talked to Pat the other day he told me, "Every day my stomach turns in knots when I hear the latest news report of another fallen soldier in Iraq, a war that did not have to be. War is very personal for the soldiers, their families and friends. During the Vietnam War we heard stirring protests songs on the radio, but not today."
He wrote 'Where is the Rage,' he says, to help people feel a connection to this war, a connection to the experience of the soldiers and their families. He, and I, believe that in order to end this war it has to become personal for all of us.
The Vietnam War was very personal for Pat. The picture on the cover of his new CD is of the casket of his best friend from high school, PFC Timothy McHugh USMC, as McHugh arrived home from Vietnam at 30th Street Station in Philadelphia in March of 1968,
"During the Vietnam War we saw the tragic images of flag-draped caskets returning home. Today, we are not allowed to see those images," Pat told me.
For my part, the late 1960s was a time of worry and waiting with other military wives outside a base in Gulfport, Mississippi, during my first husband's two tours of duty in Vietnam.
We watched the war on TV. We heard the protests. We wanted our men home, but we didn't say anything because we were military wives. Yet I firmly believe the protests at home helped end that war.
I hope as more people hear Pat Scanlon's new songs they will be inspired to join the current protests, to speak out against this war, to keep the pressure on from the outside. I'm running for federal office to work on ending the war from the inside. Working together we will achieve peace in our country.
Pat is not collecting royalties on his songs, and he is making them available to anyone who wants to use them to promote an end to the Iraq War. The two songs can be heard and downloaded from my campaign website, http://www.jeanhaybright.us.
I'm pleased to be able to help Pat distribute the