Last night, Brooklyn Parents For Peace held its annual fund-raiser. Several hundred friends and supporters turned out to a spacious loft overlooking the East River and the Manhattan Bridge in Brooklyn's DUMBO neighborhood. If you weren't there, you missed a wonderful and memorable evening.
Time for old friends to reconnect.
A vast array of delicious food, donated by Brooklyn restaurants and groceries, was set in a side room bordered by windows that looked out on the fabulous view of river and bridge. People stood and sat enjoying drink and food and conversing with friends and fellow activists they had not seen for a while.
A wonderful feast for eye and mouth.
Food, glorious food! Courtesy of Brooklyn restaurants and grocers.
Think it's easy to organize an event like this? It is if you have an Eleanor Preiss as hard-working member and a devoted staffer like Nora Gordon, both of whom worked so very hard to make this the success that it was.
Local activist and Congressional candidate, Chris Owens, chats with Stacey Weinstein (your Blogger's wife).
Good times in DUMBO.
The view from the window of our DUMBO venue.
Perfecting this lovely scene of people, food, wine and peace was the harmonious sound of the Strings For Peace, our talented local musicians playing delightful chamber music.
Strings For Peace.
The shining star of the evening was Brooklyn's own Grace Paley, reknowned short story writer, poet and peace activist. People listened in rapt attention as Grace read from some of her writings which were, in turn, humorous, ironic, compassionate and down-to-earth. Her writing evinces a world view that demands peace and equality. On this night Grace was helped in her readings by two other well known poets and authors, Jan Clausen and Sapphire.
David Tykulsker, Co-Chair of Brooklyn Parents For Peace, introduced the evening's participants.
Poet and performance artist, Sapphire, reads from Grace Paley.
Poet Jan Clausen, talking about Grace.
The audience paid close attention.
An overflow crowd filled the loft to support Brooklyn Parents For Peace.
Rusti Eisenberg, Co-Chair of BPFP, reported on the tremendous work of our members, over the course of the last month or so, to put pressure on Congress to finally stand up to Bush. "But we're not finished yet - gotta keep the pressure on!"
Finally, Grace herself!
Pausing to make a point.
After, Grace posed with part of our BPFP Literary Committee.
The following is an article about U.S. pilots who were used to drop bombs on Vietnam during that immoral war. This is an excerpt of an article written by Grace Paley for the NY Times in 1972 --
“…none of these men were forced into the job. They were not drafted, they volunteered. They were trained….Each of these men may have accomplished half a dozen My Lais in any evening.
“The Vietnamese have a saying: The man in the sky is a killer, bring him down; but the man on the ground is a helpless human being. The men who were shot down, the human beings who fell alive into the shallow paddies, on beaches, into villages they’d just bombed, became POW’s. Their Vietnamese captors were often half their size, half-starved, stiff with the grief of continuous loss of dear family, but survivors with a determination to win. They shared their squash and water spinach with these captured Americans whose great frames immediately (it’s been reported) suffered the lack of beefsteak.
“Nine prisoners of war have been returned to the United States, the last in 1969. I was a member of the peace movement delegation which escorted the last three from Hanoi to home….With obvious logic, the Vietnamese had asked that the United States government not use these returned pilots against them again. But the United States was not ready then for any easing of war or righteousness.
“Therefore, at the present time, they are all in or associated with the armed forces. Some are training younger pilots to fly out again and again over that tortured country, that laboratory for American weapons engineers.
“I would like to add two recollections that are painful to me, but I want to share the recollections and the pain.
“At a festive dinner in a Hanoi hotel, a celebration of departure after arduous years of imprisonment, one of the pilots turned his ingenuous American boy’s face of about 30 to me. He said, ‘Gosh, Grace, to be truthful I really liked bombing.’
“One summer day before I left for North Vietnam, a woman called me at home. She was a pilot’s wife. She had not heard from her husband in two and a half years. She asked me to get information about him in Hanoi, if any existed. I tried. But no one had seen or heard from him, neither the Vietnamese nor the pilots we talked to. When I came home I had to call and tell her this. She asked me why the Vietnamese insisted on keeping the pilots.
“I explained that they were considered war criminals who had come 10,000 miles to attack a tiny country in an undeclared and brutal war.
“She said, ‘Well, they’re airmen. They’re American officers.
“I told her about the villagers living in wet, dark tunnels for years, shattered by pellets, seared by napalm — I told her only what my own eyes had seen, the miles of maniac craters –
“She said, ‘Oh, Mrs. Paley, villages and people! My husband wouldn’t do that.
“I held the phone for a while in silence. I took a deep breath. Then, I said, ‘Oh? Well, I guess it must have been someone else.”
As the sun set on the East River, we hoped that it's also setting on a disgraced and corruption-filled White House and its immoral war. And many pledged to redouble their efforts to make sure that our long national nightmare finally comes to an end. In its place may we welcome peace for all the world's people.