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Rockford Veterans Day Commemoration
By Stanley Campbell
Rockford Peace & Justice commemorated veterans on all sides of war and honored peace activists who have been arrested on Thursday, November 11, 1999, at Beattie Park in Rockford, Illinois. Members of Rockford Peace & Justice gathered for a short service, some readings and songs. There was a small turnout of approximately 25 people, but representatives from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf war and even the Balkans were represented.
Special guest speaker was Ruthy Woodring, a member of the Catholic Worker community in Chicago. She talked about her arrests at Ft. Benning, Georgia, protesting the School of the Americas (SOA), which trains Latin American soldiers in interrogation and subterfuge.
In 1994 and 1995, Ms. Woodring went to Washington, D.C. to lobby against the SOA. In 1996, she "crossed the line" and trespassed on Ft. Benning at the annual anti-SOA demonstration. In 1997, she crossed the line again and was sentenced to six months in federal prison in Lexington, Kentucky. In 1998, she crossed again along with over 2,000 other protesters. All demonstrators were released.
She is planning on crossing the line again at the now-annual demonstration in front of Ft. Benning in November. Ms. Woodring was joined by six Rockfordians, including Jon McGinty, representative from the Unitarian Universalist Church; medical student Monique d'Avis, and myself. Also present were three students from Auburn High School who will attend the anti-SOA demonstration. Ms. Woodring stated, "Someone has to stand up to this cycle of violence, and as a U.S. citizen, I am proud that I can." Besides taking courses at the University of Illinois at Chicago, she is a part-time carpenter.
Stanley Campbell is a long-time peace activist and a member of VVAW since 1971.
He is the director of Rockford Urban Ministries and "the only paid activist in Rockford, Illinois."