Painful Odyssey: A Conversation with Veteran for Peace Brian Willson
Brian Willson, a Vietnam war veteran and peace activist, is well-known for his courage and commitment to justice. In 1987, he and several activists attempted to block a train at the Concord Naval Weapons Station in California, which was carrying weapons destined for El Salvador and Central America. Brian lay down on the railroad tracks; the train didn't stop and ran over him. He suffered a head injury and both his legs were amputated. That didn't stop him. He has continued to speak out and act to end the horrific wars of the US empire in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Vietnam, and Iraq, as well as the illegal occupation of Palestine.
He will be speaking at a benefit for Iraq veterans against the war at 7 PM tomorrow, July 23, at the First Unitarian Church in Portland, 1211 SW Main. Donations are requested, but noone will be turned away.
A Conversation With Veteran For Peace Brian Willson
On September 1, 1987, Brian Willson and two other veterans, in a well publicized action, were peacefully blocking movement of weapons at the Concord, CA Naval Weapons Station destined for Central America. Brian, a former Captain in the US Air Force, was run over that day by a US Navy munitions train accelerating more than three times its 5 mph legal speed limit. The blockers expected arrest and jail, as was routine. Shockingly, officers chose to defy security rules and, instead, ordered the train crew, including its two front observers, NOT to stop, apparently fearing a "hijack." Nearly killed, Brian is left with two stumps for legs and a plate in his skull, walking with prostheses. The other veterans narrowly missed being killed. It was learned that Brian and one of the other veterans had been investigated by the FBI as domestic "terrorist" suspects.
Brian, born on July 4, grew up in a rural, religious family, and was an all-around athlete and good student. Later he served four years in the US Air Force, including being commander of an experimental USAF combat security ranger-type unit in Viet Nam.
A trained lawyer, Brian has long been a justice advocate. He has studied US policies in countries such as Nicaragua, El Salvador, Panama, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, Cuba, Haiti, Iraq, Israel-Palestine, and North and South Korea, documenting a pattern of egregious lawlessness. In 1986, Brian participated with three other veterans in a 47-day water only fast protesting US wars in Central America.
Many of Brian's candid essays about the American Way Of Life, US imperial policies, and need for horizontal communities, can be read on his website, http://www.brianwillson.com. He is seeking a publisher for his recently completed psychohistorical memoirs.
This September PCASC will send a delegation of ten peace activists to Venezuela in an effort to cultivate international ties of solidarity. Delegates include IVAW Marine Resister Benji Lewis and Seattle VFP member Gerry Condon. Gerry, an ex-Green Beret medic, witnessed Brian's near murder and helped stop his bleeding before arrival of an ambulance.
All Proceeds from this event will go towards supporting the delegation.
For more information please visit our website: http://www.pdxvenezuela.org
When: Thursday July 23, 2009 7 PM
Where: First Unitarian Church of Portland (1211 SW Main, Portland, OR 97205)
Cost: $10-20 suggested donation - nobody turned away
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