You can barely see it. It’s right on the back of the war monument in Central Square. It’s a faded red peace sign. The statue was chalked more than two years ago, maybe longer. When asked where it came from, one atheist Free Keener said he didn’t know and, “Maybe God put it there.”
Until recently, few who frequent Central Square knew it was even there.
At the City Council graffiti meeting recently, one person demanded that it be removed, asked when it would be done and when an ordinance would be created to prevent it from ever happening again.
I oppose its removal.
Today, many are warming to the idea that war monuments, parades and holidays are just government propaganda. It’s less about the debt and honor owed the soldiers, and more about trying to justify past and future military endeavors. The people who think this way are not all hippies and peaceniks.
I happen to be a young veteran with a normal job and a normal life. I “served my country” and then one day I woke up when I came to realize that war is not the solution, it never was, and never will be.
Sending our sons and daughters across the globe to fight in countless undeclared wars in countries that most Americans couldn’t locate on a map is beyond immoral. Spending almost $1 trillion a year to fund more than 1,000 U.S. military bases and 250,000 soldiers to act as global policemen in a state of permanent war is self-defeating, wasteful and unconscionable. How can anyone in their right mind support such insanity?
I was one of the lucky ones. I escaped unscathed. Meanwhile, 22 of my fellow vets who can’t cope with the atrocities they may have committed and/or witnessed “defending our country” kill themselves every day.
My condition isn’t all that unique. I discover veterans who have had changes of heart on a regular basis. Perhaps you’ve even heard of some of the more famous examples. Maybe you are familiar with lifetime soldier President Eisenhower, who warned us, in his farewell address, of the dangers of the encroaching military industrial complex and the folly and stupidity of war.
Similarly, you may have read “War Is A Racket” by the most decorated soldier of all time, Major Gen. Smedley Butler, and his absolute disdain for those overzealous advocates of war who not only profit from, but who are never anywhere near the actual fighting. Maybe you’ve seen the movie “Born on the Fourth of July,” based on Vietnam Vet Ron Kovic’s autobiography. Maybe the next time you get up in arms about a peace sign chalked on a war monument, you should stop and ask a veteran how he feels about it. Be sure to ask a soldier who actually saw action, as opposed to one who spent his career stateside behind a desk. Their takeaway may differ significantly.
I like the faded peace sign. I think it represents free speech. I think it represents a better solution than all the endless war we are forced to endure. I don’t necessarily advocate such permanent markings like this one, but given that it is there, I like it. It tells me that the debate is alive and well in Keene and that at least a few truly wish for peace.
I hope that more will come to realize the negative impact that a Civil War monument (representing perhaps the most atrocious war in our nation’s history) truly has on our peaceful city’s reputation and character.
I think that a faded red peace sign is a beautiful symbol whose time has finally come, and I can’t think of a more appropriate location to display it.
132 Kennedy Drive
Editor’s note: The letter writer notes he is a sergeant who served four years active duty in the Army. He is a candidate for District 16 state representative.