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Larsen J. "Lars" Prip: Presente
By Stanley Campbell
Our friend, Larsen J. Prip, and a friend of peace and justice and a Vietnam marine veteran, died on July 28, 2019. If you ever walked the length of Madison, Wisconsin's large farmers' market almost any Saturday morning, you would see "Lars" with a Veterans for Peace vest and a large homemade sign extolling the virtues of anti-war activism. Lars, to his friends (and he had many in the movement), was a constant demonstrator.
I first met Lars on the streets of Madison and then through Vets for Peace activities in Janesville, Wisconsin. He was a longtime member of the Veterans for Peace group and stood with the Vets in Madison Capitol when they were arrested for protesting the then Governor Walker.
On July 18, he announced through Facebook that he had pancreatic cancer, relaying the diagnosis from the VA Hospital, Madison. Two weeks later he was gone.
Lars became a good friend and encouraged some of my veteran acquaintances to participate in his activities, including a visit to Beloit College to protest the appearance of Eric Prince, owner of Blackwater. Lars came appropriately dressed and encouraged us to wear our "colors." There were probably 200 angry students who kept the speaker from speaking. Rumor had it that Erik hid in the bathroom and snuck out the back door! I had Lars speak to our local Unitarian Church, which allows us to celebrate Memorial Day Sunday as a Veterans Peace memorial service. He was short and concise and to the point.
At his funeral, the twenty members of his family were overwhelmed by the over 100 peace activists who showed up to pay their last respects. I met people who told of his standing with the Native Americans against the pipelines in North Dakota at Standing Rock.
Lars was born on October 8, 1947, in Holbaek, Denmark. His parents immigrated to Grayslake, Illinois, and he and his twin brother enlisted in the US Marine Corps in June 1967. His brother died in Vietnam, while Lars served two years in Vietnam, then spent time guarding the embassy in Saigon, and then served in Iran as an embassy guard. Lars got out in 1971 and he married Patricia "Patty" Hamilton in 1972 in Elkhorn, Wisconsin. He was an engineer and began to work on peace and justice issues, especially after the invasion of Iraq. Lars had a great sense of humor and used it to try and convince people about the evils of war.
We've lost a good activist and a great friend, someone who could weather the insults from pro-war hawks with grace and dignity.
Stanley Campbell is a Vietnam veteran who turned against the war while in Vietnam, came home and protested with VVAW, then found employment with Rockford IL United Methodists where he continues to work on peace and justice issues.
Larsen Prip, Scott Garwick, and Stanley Campbell
at Beloit College after helping stop the Blackwater speaker.