Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Jackie's Memorial Day reminder

Kids are always teaching me things. On Memorial Day, after the historic march up the main drag of Killeen, TX to the gates of Ft. Hood, I hung out with the youngest daughter of Cindy and Tim Thomas, who hosted the BBQ fundraiser at the Under The Hood GI coffee house. Cindy manages the café, and throughout her organizing efforts over the past two years, she usually brought her two daughters along to meetings in Austin while Tim was in his third Army deployment to Iraq. When Cindy and her girls, Jasmyne and Jackie, walked into a meeting, they brightened up the room.
For Memorial Day, Jackie had decorated her own poster for the march. She said that it was a sign recycled from a previous use, with an “s” added to the “End the war” message. She also added columns of peace signs and flowers, which matched the flowery peace sign design on the shirt she wore for the march.
As I mingled with folks after our hot but triumphant return to the cafe, Jackie came over with her sign and a pack of colored markers to ask if I would write my name on the back of the poster. There were already a few other signatures, including her own: “Jaclyn.” Then, I became her assistant as she made the rounds of the other folks at the café, shyly but persistently gathering signatures until the poster became a bright montage of proof: “We were here!”
Jackie was our angelic provocateur, our informant who informed us, quietly going about creating a record of our presence that helped draw us together. Her collection of names lowered the barriers and heightened our joy in sharing the rare occasion of a peace march led by soldiers to the largest Army base in the world. We marchers represented different and sometimes divergent ideologies. Some of us have been at odds with one another for years over strategies and beliefs, and others of us met for the first time that day. But, I watched our differences become something beautiful as Jackie approached each person – socialist, anarchist, Christian, teenager, retiree, veteran, civilian, soldier -- documenting our uniqueness while inviting us to make a common affirmation.
We see the child, and we know the reason wars must not be pluralized. Peace is as necessary as water to the child and the flower. Marching won’t, by itself, end war; we know that, too. But we join our streams to water the earth, and we grow.
thanks to Heidi T. for the photo and to Jackie for the inspiration!

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