Often as I've marched and demonstrated for peace, I've been verbally assaulted, accused of being un-American, unpatriotic, even treasonous by those who carried American flags, sang inspiring hymns, and boisterously and stridently asserted their patriotism, love of country and support for the troops through bullhorns.
Most of this criticism I dismissed as a failure to understand the nature and the reality of war and the moral and political obligations of citizens in a democracy. I was confident in my patriotism, my love of America and my concern and support for the troops. I had, after all, served honorably as a motivated United States Marine Corps officer in Vietnam. But when this disparagement and denunciation began coming from fellow veterans, I became disquieted and felt the need to seriously ponder the possibility that perhaps I had gone astray, violating some sacred trust or bond. So, what I offer in this essay is a thought experiment in self-examination, an introspective journey into the mind and motivation of a former Marine turned peace activist.
As a result of this exercise in self-examination, I have realized that I am anti aggression. I am anti unjust, immoral, and unnecessary war, but not anti war. I am anti the Iraq war, however; anti the Bush Administration, anti rogue nation and anti recruitment. In addition, I am pro military, pro veteran and pro America. I have realized as well that the outrage I feel regarding the corrupting and disgracing of America by those political leaders and their coconspirators who cherish not our values and way of life but only wealth and power requires - no demands - the true patriot to embrace truth and to cry out in condemnation and protest. Finally, despite the criticisms and disparaging comments and accusations by credulous veterans, I have realized that my activism and dissent are an expression and fulfillment of my moral and patriotic duty. I am confident, therefore, that I am more the patriot today as I demonstrate for peace than when I wore the uniform of a United States Marine.
This is one of the few times I've agreed with a Marine officer.