One thing to keep in mind. I was born and bred in Texas

Texas, the land where Geronimo, the mighty Apache Indian warrior, waged battle for 30 years in both Texas and Arizona with the “Blue Coats” and the Mexicans. It began with settlers’ expansion into the Apache hunting grounds and, in 1858, the Mexicans murdered his mother, wife and three of his children. His surrender in 1886 made him the last Indian warrior to formally give in to U.S. forces.

Texas, where my great grandfather drove cattle down the Shawnee Trail in the 1870s from Grayson County across the Red River to Kansas.

Texas, where my step- greatgrandfather was murdered on his front porch in 1893 because he knew who had been rustling his cattle. The murderer was never identified. As they say in Texas, “He needed killin’.”

Texas, where John Wesley Hardin is still remembered as Texas’ most deadly gunman. He was born near where my great-grandparents lived and are buried.

Texas, where General Sam Houston is known today as “larger than life.” Where, indeed, there is a statue of him outside Huntsville, Texas, 67-feet tall on a 10-foot base. Houston sought revenge after the fall of the Alamo by defeating General Santa Anna at the Battle of San Jacinto, bringing Texas independence from Mexico. Later, he brought Texas as a constituent state into the United States. Well, I could go on and on about Ole Sam. However, Texas may decide to secede from the Union any day now.

Texas, where, ironically, “ Old Sparky,” the former electric chair, and the present place for death row, is located not far from the gigantic statue of Sam Houston. Since 1982 and as of January 21, 519 individuals have been executed by lethal injection at the Huntsville unit. The number is over four times as many as Oklahoma (the state with the second highest total of executions) and more than 37 times as many as California (the state with the largest number of death row inmates).

Texas, where my news source was Time magazine.

But in December 1997, my husband and I moved to Maine. Talk about CULTURE SHOCK!

Maine, where I learned about Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition; where I discovered the Allen Avenue Unitarian Universalist Church in Portland; discovered Peace Action Maine; discovered 350.org; discovered Maine People’s Alliance; discovered the gay and lesbian communities. Oh, I could go on and on.

Maine, where I met Tom Sturtevant, that gallant, brave teacher, war protester and a co-founder of Veterans for Peace Maine; where I met Bruce Gagnon, the peripatetic world traveler who wanders round the world and into the wilderness with wise warnings, and a longtime member of Veterans for Peace; where I met and worked for years with Rosalie Paul and Karen Wainberg on issues of world peace and abolition of nuclear weapons; where I met Peace Works, too. Oh, I could go on and on.

Maine, where I felt honored to become part of these communities. Where I found my tiny voice magnified by association with these courageous people.

Maine, where I began a new life dedicated to bringing to light the atrocities committed by our offensive (in every sense of the word) U.S. military industrial complex.

Without exception, “With knowledge, comes responsibilities.” When I read the book, “Viet Nam—A History” by Stanley Karnow in about 1999, the words tore at my heart and at the core of my being. Everything I had thought about that war began to come into focus with a huge burning question mark!

In retaliation to the unproven Gulf of Tonkin incident, U.S. Operation Thunder commenced on Feb. 12, 1965, 50 years ago this month. Rest assured the U.S. government is preparing for a huge celebration this Memorial Day. Also, rest assured that Veterans for Peace Maine and Brunswick PeaceWorks is planning to call attention to another version of that war with their “Full Disclosure Campaign” and an impressive event at the Vietnam Memorial Wall. Stay tuned and be prepared to write letters, lift your voices, and hold signs at street corners. Together we have a vision that cannot be denied. War is not the answer.

Thank you, Keith Williams (my husband), for moving me to Maine!

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Sally Breen is a member of Peace- Works and lives in Windham.


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