Sunday, May 17, 2009

My Lai Peace Park

RantWoman is transfixed. RantWoman had not planned to stay for the event after Meeting for Worship. RantWoman did not even initially sit down; she was too busy banging around the Meetinghouse kitchen. Then, lo, the dishes were done, and the bits of the presentation RantWoman had been listening slightly to drew her in.

Today's guest was Mike Boehm, the CEO of Madison Quakers Inc., a remarkable peacebuilding and reconciliation project connecting Madison Quakers with the town of My Lai and the province where it is located: My Lai Peace Park .

Mike is a Vietnam vet who came back after his service, took classes under the GI Bill, spent a great deal of time thinking about US foreign policy and eventually returned to Vietnam the first time with a group of other vets. This trip led Mike to a series of one construction and reconciliation project after another: compassion houses for severely handicapped child victims of Agent Orange or for others with very extreme need, projects with the mountain tribes of Vietnam and a peace park in Hanoi.

The peace park in Vietnam was inspired by the healing that resulted from many different meetings and conversations at the Madison WI Vietnam American Peace Park, a place where US and Vietnamese veterans met and found healing in their shared distress, in their shared concern for those Missing in Action, their shared striving for reconciliation, and in their desire for a future different from the horrors of the past.

RantWoman is not doing these projects justice and she highly recommends the website above. The other point: Mike has been doing this work for decades. He thinks the projects have enough of a track record that they would have better success with grantwriting than a previous effort in that area. If anyone is touched as strongly as RantWoman was and knows something of grantwriting, there are contact options on the site.

The most revolting Vice President ever is on TV flakking for torture. The US public is pondering the friendly fire death of Pat Tillman and just how do dozens of civilians wind up dying in US bombing raids in Afghanistan. There is another round of torture pictures poking at our consciences if mercifully not so far at our visual streams. Against this background, simple measures to memorialize, to take brave steps of acknolwedgement across enormous gaps, and to take concrete, constructive steps for reconciliation and rebuilding is so refreshing.

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