My friend and fellow peace activist, Don Bryant, who helped organize a peace rally on Market Square across from Cleveland’s iconic West Side Market on West 25th Street this afternoon, asked me to speak to the assemblage, comprised of around 25 people,including a few Iranian immigrants. Here’s what I said while wearing my 53-year-old U.S. Army field jacket and holding my peace flag:
“Happy Chinese New Year!!…the Year of the Rat…seems appropriate, considering who’s in the White House. Some people have said to me, ‘Where are the stars? There are supposed to be stars on that flag.’ And I said, ‘The stars are in hiding. They’re in hiding. They’re ashamed, embarrassed and disgusted with all the death, destruction, instability and chaos we have caused in the Middle East. Millions upon millions of refugees, and it all started with us.
“Some people have said to me, ‘Your flag disrespects the American flag…desecrates the American flag.’ And I said, ‘I have a different perspective. I was in Vietnam for a year and from my perspective it doesn’t disrespect or desecrate the American flag. It respects peace….respects peace. People who have not been in a war–have never experienced the bitter taste of war–will never ever respect peace to the same degree I do. It just can’t happen. It’s impossible..not even come close.’
“Some people have said to me, ‘We have to have war before we have peace.’ And I said, ‘If we never had war, wouldn’t we always have peace?’ Makes sense to me. Seems pretty obvious. As you know there is a flagpole on top of the White House with an American flag flying at the top. If I had my way I would put my peace flag on that pole, but I would fly it above the American flag. Thank you.”