On Memorial day, we honor those who have sacrificed their lives while in military service to our country. Among them are heroes, men and women with amazing courage and dedication who went off to war and never returned. I am personally unfamiliar with the kind of courage they have demonstrated, be it unknown or recognized with medals or monuments.
But as important, this day, is to remember and congratulate one woman who also displays ongoing and amazing courage, the courage to wage peace. That woman is Medea Benjamin, the co-founder of Code Pink.
I and my husband were honored with her gracious presence when she hosted a dinner while on the Nation cruise in December of last year. I knew this was a woman to watch and learn from. After our brief but cherished dinner conversation, I confess that we mostly vacationed in the Cayman Islands, while Medea went to work. We watched her do what she does best. Along with other Code Pink activists and fellow cruisers, she stood up and spoke out against the offshore banking the Cayman Islands is known for. It is a preferred haven for 18,000 corporations who wish to stash their cash to avoid taxation. She was there, in the lead, speaking against tax evasion.
Shortly after this action, she stood up and disrupted Wayne La Pierre, executive director of the National Rifle Association, at their post Sandy Hook massacre press conference. It was the NRA's announcement of their solution to gun violence in the schools-- arming teachers. Medea rose from the audience shouting challenges to La Pierre before being dragged off by gorilla-ish security guards.
Then, during President Obama's foreign policy speech to the nation last Thursday, he was correct on one particular point. Medea Benjamin is a woman who should be listened to. After three interruptions by Medea, Obama was somewhat rattled, however recognized her angst, "cutting her some slack" in his own words. It is amazing she had the opportunity to attempt her challenge from the back of the room thrice before being ushered out by the Secret Service. As she stated later, he was not correct when he said she had not listened. It was precisely because she had listened that she spoke out. Her questions remain unanswered despite the fact Obama would say they have been addressed; Issues such as closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay, stopping the drone warfare and other policies that make us more unsafe, more prone to war.
This is only a small snapshot of the work of this woman and Code Pink, co-founder Jodie Evans and a growing base of activists. We must pay heed to the big picture and to her words; demanding answers and action along with her. Thank you Medea for your courage. While there are those that will speak against her for any number of reasons, from a impolite violation of protocol to those who will use outrageous invective, she speaks for all of us. She speaks in favor of ending the need for days to remember the dead and dying in war. She wages peace.