A Very Occupy Veterans’ Day.

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Photo Marc Perkins, from last week’s Bank Transfer Day in Irvine

You all must have noticed by now, the remarkable number of veterans in the Occupy movement, both nationwide and here in the OC.  We’ve been proud to include in our numbers fighters from World War II, the Korean and Vietnam Wars, but most notably the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I don’t mean to suggest that all, or even most, of our military veterans are supportive of our critique of America’s oligarchy, corporate-run government, and fierce inequality, but it seems that veterans ARE overrepresented in the movement.  You frequently hear comments like “I didn’t go off to fight and risk my life for this nation to see all our wealth go to the top one percent,” or National Guardswoman Dottie Guy‘s “Our job is to protect the freedom of speech and assembly, and we still take that oath seriously.”

We remain hopeful for a full recovery of Occupy Oakland’s Marine Scott Olsen, hospitalized with a skull fracture from a police projectile after serving two tours in Iraq.  Shortly before his injury he had tweeted, referring possibly to the great movie V For Vendetta, “People should not be afraid of their government;  governments should be afraid of their people.”  (Veterans are marching in Oakland today in support of wounded protestors – including yet another Iraq vet, Kayvan Sabeghi, who had his spleen ruptured by a police clubbing last week.)

We’re proud of our own Anthony Velloza, arrested last month for camping with Occupy Santa Ana, making the statement, “I did not serve in Iraq advocating ‘freedom’ to return to a police-run state.”  (I should note that we have not had arrests or trouble with the police in Occupy Irvine – yet.)

Marine and Iraq vet (2 tours) Anthony Velloza being arrested for camping at Occupy Santa Ana.

We mourn for our Vermont veteran brother who shot himself in the head in Occupy Burlington‘s encampment yesterday – one of the thousands of veterans suicides in recent years, an underreported holocaust.  The Burlington group released a statement saying the incident gave it an “ever deeper resolve to stand with our most vulnerable citizens.”

The Voice of OC has a hard-hitting story today [“A Silver Star and a Purple Heart and Still Waiting For Benefits“] of  heroic and gravely wounded 23-year old Iraq/Afghan veteran Daniel Foster of Costa Mesa, home from the wars, still waiting for his benefits, and facing foreclosure with his disabled father on the day before Thanksgiving.  It’s unclear what Daniel’s political beliefs are or if he’s thought of joining us yet, but he is clearly one of the 99%, and as we thank him and honor him for his sacrifice we vow to continue to fight for him and his father.

I also shouldn’t give the impression that every one of US, or all the veterans who are involved with us, share a skeptical view of the motivations behind the wars they were sent off to fight in.  But most of them, when they speak of their experiences, do tend to sound much like the legendary General Smedley Butler in his famous1935 booklet  “War is a Racket” :

War is just a racket. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of people. Only a small inside group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the masses. . . .

There isn’t a trick in the racketeering bag that the military gang is blind to. It has its “finger men” to point out enemies, its “muscle men” to destroy enemies, its “brain men” to plan war preparations, and a “Big Boss” Super-Nationalistic-Capitalism.

It may seem odd for me, a military man to adopt such a comparison. Truthfulness compels me to. I spent thirty- three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country’s most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle- man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.

I suspected I was just part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it. Like all the members of the military profession, I never had a thought of my own until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of higher-ups. This is typical with everyone in the military service.

I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912 (where have I heard that name before?). I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.

During those years, I had, as the boys in the back room would say, a swell racket. Looking back on it, I feel that I could have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents. . . .

All of this is a lead-up to letting you know what we’re doing tomorrow…

At Occupy Irvine tomorrow – Alton and Harvard, Irvine Civic Center, our Valley Forge for this winter – we’ll start as we do on every Saturday, with music at 10AM, a couple of speeches at 11, a rally and a big march – probably to the corner of Jamboree and Barranca this time.

When we’re back – at 3PM – we will be joined by members of Military Families Speak Out, Iraq Veterans Against the War, and other military veterans and family members, in a solemn celebration of Veterans’ Day, in the shadow of the football-field-sized flag the Irvine Council has hung behind our village.  MFSO says: “We have planned an hour program with music and talks about the true cost of war, hear from a local Iraq Veteran and other military families and the history of Veterans Day.”  ALL PATRIOTS ARE INVITED!

Irvine’s Valley Forge, 11/11/11.

ALSO, tonight – FRIDAY NIGHT –

Our usual FREE Friday night movie at 8PM, at the

Irvine United Congregational Church

4915 Alton Parkway
Irvine, CA

We’re seeing the OC premiere of the brand-new long-expected phenomenon:




Movie Synopsis:

THRIVE is an unconventional documentary that lifts the veil on what’s REALLY going on in our world by following the money upstream — uncovering the global consolidation of power in nearly every aspect of our lives. Weaving together breakthroughs in science, consciousness and activism, THRIVE offers real solutions, empowering us with unprecedented and bold strategies for reclaiming our lives and our future.

Wow. It is hard to believe that the moment is almost here.

For more than eight years we have worked diligently to consolidate a lifetime of research into THRIVE – What on Earth Will it Take? a feature length film and website whose purpose is simple: To empower a more informed and leveraged movement for global transformation!

And in two days, at exactly 12:01am PST on 11/11/11 the film will be released into the world.

THRIVE is the culmination of our journey to seek answers to the most critical questions of our time, including:

Is it possible for humans to thrive? And if so, why aren’t we?

If nature teaches us anything it is that Life is meant to work. And like every living thing, our purpose is to thrive.

And yet, for the majority of people on the planet, life is not about thriving… It’s about surviving, just trying to hang on.

Is this really the best we can do? Did the universe labor for nearly 14 billion years only to bring forth a species that would end up as an enemy to life itself, and to its own Home?

We don’t think so.

Like so many of you, we have spent nearly a lifetime trying to figure out what happened – what is happening that could account for the staggering agony and deprivation on this planet.

Our research led us to places we never expected to go, revealing surprising discoveries that seemed unrelated at first, but which turned out to be crucially connected, as you’ll see.

We came across a code – a pattern in nature that’s been embedded in arts and icons throughout the centuries. We believe this code holds the key to a new source of clean, sustainable energy that could completely revolutionize the way all people live.

We came to understand how our economic system is rigged. And we found out what we can do about it.

Our journey revealed ways we can claim our power to create liberating, healthy systems everywhere on Earth!

We have realized that we are not a mistake. We are simply mistaken. We’ve been blinded to our brilliance, shorn of our strength, ignorant of our genius, unaware of our true power and magnificence.

But all of that …is about to change.

We encourage you to share this worldwide event with your friends, family and colleagues by forwarding this email notifying them of THRIVE’s exciting launch on 11/11/11 in 10 languages. Like you, they won’t want to miss this!

About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official troubador of both Anaheim and Huntington Beach (the two ends of the Santa Ana Aquifer.) Performs regularly both solo, and with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at vernpnelson@gmail.com, or 714-235-VERN.