When world leaders got together in 1918 and signed the armistice agreement to end World War I, the hope was that it would be an agreement to end all wars — but that’s been far from the case.
“For 94 years now, every decade we’re at war,” said Vietnam War veteran Steve Hanken, of Cedar Rapids.
Hanken was one of nearly 50 people — most of them veterans — who piled into the Old Brick church on Market Street to commemorate Armistice Day 2012, which happens to coincide with Veterans Day and Remembrance Day.
Organized by Veterans for Peace, chapter 161 out of Iowa City, Sunday’s event included speeches from veterans of several different wars, as well as a special commemoration for Iowa soldiers who’ve died fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as civilian casualties in those countries.
Simply reminding people of the horrors of war isn’t enough, said Ed Flaherty, president of Veterans for Peace, chapter 161.
“We have to figure out new ways to wage peace,” he said, adding that that won’t be an easy task.
Hanken, a member of Veterans for Peace, said the vast majority of people both inside and outside of Old Brick are not in favor of war, and the public has nothing to gain from it.
“Our people that go there don’t gain anything,” he said. “The only people that do gain from it are not putting their lives on the line for this process.”
Cedar Rapids resident Marybeth Gardam, the Iowa coordinator for the group Move to Amend, spoke about her efforts to reduce corporate influence on the government.
Move to Amend is working to strip corporations of the constitutional rights intended for humans, Gardam said, as well as dismantle the court-created doctrine that money is speech. Gardam passed around a petition to that tune and said it’s gotten more than 200,000 signatures online, with a goal of 500,000 next year.
The public no longer has enough of a say in how elections are run, how the candidates are selected or which government policies are implemented, Gardam said. Those decisions are made by corporations, she said.
“We have nothing against the concept of corporations or capitalism,” she said. “We just don’t think they should call all the shots in our government.”