Archive for September, 2009

What Obama Isn’t

September 19, 2009

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Haiku by Bonnie

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In Honor of Veteran for Peace Michael Pahios

September 1, 2009

My friend Michael Pahios was a marine who served in Viet Nam and then came home convinced he needed to work for peace.  He was the first president of his chapter of Veterans for Peace in Brooklyn.

All the years I knew him, he worked with homeless veterans on the streets of this city.  He gave them money out of his pocket, encouraged them, worked to get them services.   He also worked tirelessly to make peace not war.  When I told Michael I wanted to go to Camp Casey, he came to my house and left money on the table to help me get there.  He planned to join me there, but he died suddenly and I never saw him again.

Earlier this evening, I walked up Court Street, where a few blocks on the other side of Atlantic Avenue I noticed and first passed a man sitting on a milk crate with a sign in his hand that said Veteran. A hat lay on the sidewalk next to him.

Thinking of Michael, I turned back and put a little money in the hat.  I started to tell him about my Camp Casey experiences as a way to relate to him, but I didn’t finish a sentence.  He just talked and talked.  Among the things I heard was that he will be entering student housing on Monday and beginning studies toward a degree.  He was very grateful for that.  He had been with another veteran friend today and was grateful for that as well. 

I realized he just needed to talk not really to engage in dialogue.  He remarked that government officials say that they will do things for veterans but that most of what they say comes to nothing.  He talked about the white wash and the smoke screens of all the words and promises, which are empty and hide the truth of unconcern and neglect.

He did not appear physically wounded, but I am not sure about his mental condition.  I know that Michael would have been able to relate to him better than I did, but I was as kind as I know how to be to this man who gave his service to protect me and all of us and is now homeless and has been unable to get work or find a place for himself.  I listened to him.  I wished him the best as he starts on a new phase of his life. 

However inadequately, I did what I did in honor of my friend and fellow activist for peace Michael Pahios.   In doing that, I made an effort to honor all of our service personnel who are currently risking their lives in illegal and immoral wars.  It was the very least I could do.  I trust that Michael’s spirit was active, at least a little bit, through me today.  I miss him very much. 

As the service women and men would say:  “Michael Pahios.   Presente.” 

May he rest now in the peace that he worked so long and hard to create for us all on this earth.