A Vietnam Veteran Reflects on Memorial Day

This post is written by my father, Arnold Stieber who was infantry in the Army stationed in Vietnam from 1970-1971. He is currently the coordinator of the Chicago chapter of . I’m proud to share his writings and to be his son. 

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 War – conflict resolution by violence. Memorial day – a day to remember those killed in wars. More than remembering, Memorial Day is reality for me. That reality began in 2003 and was amplified in 2013.

In 2003 my military experience burst into my consciousness after 32 years. Late one night I turned on the TV. The movie “Platoon” was playing. I had never watched any violent shows nor read anything about war or Viet Nam since I left there and my role as an Army infantryman in March of 1971. The scene was a U.S. patrol entering a village. I saw the dark skinned children with their big dark eyes, skinny bodies and ragged clothes – and it all came back like a lightening bolt. The sights, the sounds, the smells. Stunned, I turned off the TV and sat in a darkened room.

The next day began a frenzy of activity. Unstructured for the first few months, I consumed a world of information. At 57 years of age with an MBA and an active business career, I was almost totally ignorant of many aspects of life. Information on war, peace, politics, world affairs, religion, organizations, books, magazines, videos, DVDs, radio and TV shows – and the list grew with each passing day. I needed structure.
I finally formulated two questions: Why war? Why do we so proudly send our children to kill other children?

Why war?

Howard Zinn helped with his book, ““. Marine Major General Smedley Butler, a two time Medal of Honor recipient, helped with his booklet, ““. Many other authors and people and programs moved me along the path.

My studies revealed that the main causes of war are . There is always plenty of flag waving and bluster about the “evil ones”, but every war I’ve studied, once you begin peeling back the layers, has the same core.

War is the best business in the world.

High profits, little competition, products rapidly used, and the price is seldom questioned. Weapons are the product of the USA. Hundreds of thousands of people are employed in the death and destruction industry. Thousands more spend their lives teaching at war colleges and military schools. Other thousands plan wars and “covert actions”. Mercenary companies and CIA operations are a major part of U.S. “foreign policy”. But the war business depends on conflict. That leads to the second question.

Why do we so proudly send our children to kill other children?

A country体彩官方app cannot have a war, and those in the war business cannot sell their products, unless we the people are willing to sacrifice our children.

How can we be convinced to sacrifice our children?

There are many ways.
The first is to generate fear.
The second is to continually present the military model for conflict resolution – violence – as the solution.

Go into any park and you’ll probably see a military statue or a canon. Veterans’ memorials are everywhere. Parades are lead by weapons carrying veterans and the military. The military carries the flag into sporting events. Many in the military now ware Combat Battle Dress (CBDs) when they are in public. Everyone in the military is now called a “hero”. POW-MIA flags fly from Post Offices and other buildings. Highways are named after wars, war veterans, and generals. Battleships are named after Presidents. We have civil war re-enactments. Our language is violent – ” I could just kill my kids”, “bullet points”, and sports announcers inject “kill”, “beat”, “destroyed” into their descriptions. There are also video games, weapon toys, paintball parks and TV and movie violence. All of these lower the barrier to hurting others. They are an ever-present message that violence – the military model – is the solution to conflict.

In 2013 I watched the Chicago Memorial Day parade. Thousands of children of color, dressed in military uniforms, passed by. It stunned me. I’ve learned that Chicago Public Schools are the . Over 10,000 children are learning the military model of taking orders and solving conflicts with violence. The parade, for me, was not about remembering those who died. The main message was convincing the children and their parents that the military model is the “American way”.

This year I’ll be back at the parade – holding a sign of peace. Please join me and members of the Chicago chapter of . If we can influence just one child or just one parent that the military model is not the answer, that’s one child who will not have to suffer the physical or mental pain of legalized death and destruction.

Memorial Day.
Remember the dead, all of them, from all countries, civilians and military.
Dead because of the military model.

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For more from my father, the Chicago Veterans for Peace, and their actions to De-Militarize Chicago Public Schools like their , view his blog , and check out the website. 

Radio Interview about Educational Funding on Outside the Loop Radio

Last week I in support of the idea proposed by to place a small tax on the Mercantile Exchange to generate revenue for schools (since the Merc gets millions in tax breaks).

I was interviewed on Outside the Loop Radio this week about school funding and how the lack of funding impacts schools in Chicago, but specifically my school in Englewood.

The interview is about the first twelve minutes of the show.

The Chicago Mercantile Exchange — Maintaining the Status Quo in Chicago Public Schools

Karen Lewis (former CPS teacher) elected President of the Chicago Teachers Union proposed an idea to generate funding, to improve Chicago Public Schools and our city. Her idea is to place a small tax on shares bought and sold at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. In an interview published in the Lewis said, “This is an opportunity to actually make heroes out of these (wealthy) people. Instead of everybody being angry at them about their money and their greed and all these other things. This is an opportunity for them to say, ‘You know what, we’re part of the city. We love this city. We’d like to see the city work. We’d like to be a part of the process and this isn’t going to be enough to make us want to go.’”

The Chicago Mercantile Exchange issued a statement in response to Lewis saying in part, “…we do not believe the way to accomplish a strong public school system is through singling out futures traders with a tax more than 200 percent higher than what the average trader pays to buy or sell a futures contract…”

For those non-math people like myself 200 percent higher sounds like a lot of money, but in reality if shares were currently being taxed 33 cents they would now be taxed about 67 cents more to make it a dollar tax. Saying something is 200 percent more is just a fancy way of saying something is tripled.

Sixty seven cents more to improve our schools which in turn improves our whole city.

In the same interview where the Chicago Mercantile Exchange claimed it basically couldn’t afford to pay 67 cents more the Mercantile Exchange spokesperson said, “The CME Group absolutely believes that our 体彩官方apptown of Chicago should have a strong, world-class public education system.”

So the Chicago Mercantile Exchange wants a world class education system yet will not give a minute fraction of its wealth and revenue to actually make this a reality?

Please keep in mind that the Mercantile Exchange gets millions of dollars per year in . Meaning that all the money that they are not paying in taxes that would go to improving our city and in part our schools stays in their pockets making them even more wealthy.

This my friends is what maintaining the status quo looks like in plain sight.

Teachers and schools are blamed for anything and everything wrong with education. Yet, when teachers demand more money for our schools and our students we are labeled as greedy and the ideas we have to improve education are dismissed.

As an educator in CPS for the past seven years working in the Englewood neighborhood it is painfully obvious that schools need more funding.

Schools need support (i.e. financial resources) for our city to truly give ALL of our students a “world class” education.

Last year Chicago Public Schools reduced the budgets by about $2,000 per student. In a small school like mine that translates to about $400,000 that we lost just last year. In larger schools that number is in the millions of dollars that schools once had that they no longer have to use for school staff, supplies, field trips, and the overall functioning of a school.

In my school cutting $400,000 translated into supplies being cut, technology not being repaired and seven people who no longer work in our building. That means there are seven less adults (teachers, security, tech coordinator, and a teacher coach) that can no longer work with students and help make their education and safety better.

So the Chicago Mercantile Exchange claims it wants a “world class education” for the students of Chicago, but in the same press release basically says it can’t find 67 more cents to invest per transaction for the youth of Chicago to better our city.

The Chicago Mercantile Exchange is just following the lead of our mayor who claims he wants what is best for the kids, yet steals TIF money that is supposed to go to our schools and neighborhoods and builds stadiums, parks, roads that benefit downtown while also sending his kids to a private school that has everything that ALL our schools should have.

Like Rahm Emanuel the Chicago Mercantile Exchange is just providing lip service claiming it cares about kids, while maintaining the status quo of Chicago and keeping this city a tale of —One for the rich and one for everyone else.

Or as I like to interpret the Chicago Mercantile Exchange’s quote, it just comes down to (millions of) dollars for the rich and pennies for our kids.