Four local people honored for saving the world
The Tom Paine chapter of Veterans for Peace held their fourth annual Winter Soldier Peace and Justice award dinner in Albany recently and four incredible people were recognized for trying to stop the planet, and all therein, from being destroyed by war and violence. That “all therein” includes you and me and all we hold dear.
Elaine Klien started her witness against war in 1969 when some students from Bethlehem Central High School (her alma mater) marched to the New York State Capitol to register their dissent from the official US government policy on the on the Vietnam War that was to send young men from this country to kill innocent people in a country far away, as well as to be killed and maimed themselves. She joined them and has not stopped since.
She coordinates the Schenectady Neighbors for Peace and is on the steering committee for Upper Hudson Peace Action, is Secretary for Peace Action, NYS and is active in Mohawk Hudson Depleted Uranium Net work and J Street, Albany Capital District chapter. She organizes some of the best local programs on nuclear danger.
Paul Rehm has gone all over the world working for peace. He spent time in Bulgaria and Poland working with Volunteers For Peace. He's working with some of the greats -- Daniel Berrigan and Kathy Kelly; he traveled with both of them to Iraq. He's also witnessed and worked for peace in Germany, England, and Scotland. For the last five years has served in Palestine/Israel as a Reservist with the Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) where he risks his life to help Palestinian farmers get to their fields safely and Palestinian children get to school. His only weapon is is faith in the Jesus of the Gospel of nonviolence and his red CPT baseball cap.
Pat Beetle has been a fixture in local peacemaking efforts for longer than anyone can remember. She started during the Vietnam War when she started her weekly vigil in from the the New York State Capitol in downtown Albany. She never left. A Quaker, she has worked with the American Friends Services Committee, the friends Committee on National Legislation, Friends for Radical Justice and the Alternatives to Violence Project. Locally she currently serves on the Upper Hudson Peace Action steering committee and works with Women Against War, Mediation Matters, Capital Area Council of Churches and the Interfaith Alliance. I am surprised that she found time to come accept her award.
Finally, the chapter surprised us all by awarding their own John Amidon the Winter Soldier Award. John helped to found the chapter and the awards dinner. He also founded and organizes the Kateri Peace conference in Fonda, a highly respected event that draws people from across the country. He has witnessed against torture, war and nuclear danger by risking arrest all over the United States and in South America. He made it to the dinner just time after serving as the videographer for the Anti Drone Witness in Syracuse earlier in the day.
It was amazing to sit in that room and take in all the local people who spend their time and money trying to ensure that the right to life is ensured for all of us. Were it not for them and their tireless efforts I think we'd have all be nuclear ash long ago.