Veterans for Peace

Veterans for Peace, Asheville, chapter gathered in Pack Square last Tuesday to promote their anti-war message to the public.

“We are protesting our jackassed foreign policy that creates more enemies than we start with,” says Bob Feldman, one of the protesters. “But that’s good for business if you sell drones, if you sell military goods, or things that we don’t need.”

Since 2003, Veterans for Peace, Asheville chapter, gathers at Pack Square every Tuesday, rain or shine.

“It started out basically, as a protest against the Iraq invasion,” said Lyle Petersen, one of the Veterans for Peace members at the protest. “It wasn’t very popular in the beginning but people eventually came around, but we decided to continue because war is not over. We want to keep that fact in front of the public and let them know this isn’t over, it’s not going to be over until a whole lot of things change.”

Many of the members felt a change of heart either during or after their time as soldiers. Feldman is a Vietnam veteran who saw war in a different light while in combat.

“What I saw in Vietnam did not match what I was told,” said Feldman. “I was lied to. We were told we were helping them determine their future except we were fighting a war to keep Ho Chi Minh from winning an election.”

Another protesters, Don, is also a Vietnam veteran who was drafted and was trained to be a rocket launcher crewman.

“I actually believed the war was just at the time because there were two Vietnams,” said Don. “One was Communist, the other one we called free. We didn’t say Capitalist. We said Democratic in those days.”

Don felt a change of heart years after the war in Vietnam. In 1980, Don saw a film called The Deer Hunter. The film made an impact on him with its portrayal of war.

“I was very impressed with how they could portray working class people being suckered into a war that they don’t have any stake in, said Don. “They don’t even know where the country is. Yet, they’re jollied along to go and do that and many come back crippled, some die and it’s just an exploitation.”

After looking back on his time in Vietnam, Don doesn’t blame himself too much for his previous attitude about the war. He realizes that he was young and impressionable.

“Looking back on it, the whole thing is ridiculous,” said Don “I don’t feel too bad about myself because I didn’t do anything wrong. It is okay for a nineteen-year-old to not understand all these things. But older people do know what’s going on and they are the ones that are leading us.”

With his new outlook on war, Don said he would change his decision to go to war if he could go back in time.

“I wouldn’t go back. I wouldn’t support it again and I wouldn’t encourage anyone to go into it.”