WALKING FOR A BETTER WORLD
More Bio Details - 08/17/2003
Where Was I?
Following Jeri's lead I want to re-introduce myself to all of you. My name is Jeff McKenzie and I live in Gasport, NY or at least I will until Oct.1st. I am 49 years-old and I have a son, Jeremy and a daughter-in-law, Nicole, both are serving in the U.S. military. Jeremy is a Captain in the Army and is a command pilot for his medical evacuation unit and was deployed to Kuwait/ Iraq from January-June. Nicole was enlisted in Army but is now in the Guardt. Our views are not the same on all the issues but we respect each others opinion.
In November of 2002, Charley Richardson and Nancy Lessin and myself got MFSO off the ground. I set-up and moderated the listserv for the most part up to this point.
In 1994 and 95, I served as Deputy Commander of Cadets, for Civil Air Patrol in Lockport, NY. I was recognized as Senior of the Year. Jeremy was recognized as Cadet of the Year, not only for his squadron but all of NY State. Six of my cadets (inc. Jeremy) are presently serving in the military; five are officers (inc. Jeremy) and one is enlisted.
In August 2001, while attending SUNY Brockport as a Junior and I lived in the dorm housing non-traditional, international and ROTC students. On September 11th, I watched in horror the events unfolding on the television. Jeremy telephoned me from Bosnia where he had arrived the beginning of September for a 6 month mission. He said ‘dad, if Nicole gets called up, can you watch our dogs’ (a 6 year-old German Shepard mix and a puppy that was a Husky mix). I spent the next week deciding what to do and then making arrangements to drop out of school if need be, I planned on living on his base to take care of the dogs.
Around the 3rd week of September I attended my first Amnesty International meeting at campus. The discussion at the meeting quite naturally focused on terrorism and Afghanistan. The VP of the college club made a statement that shocked the 5 of us in attendance, she said, ”the Afghani’s are dumb, ignorant people and we should kill them all”. Needless to say this is not the opinion of Amnesty International and it also led to this person being asked to step down. This meeting changed my course and made me closely examine what was happening in America and around the world.
I soon became a founding member of Brockport Students Against War. My decision to become involved in the antiwar/ peace movement did not just come out of emotion, quite the contrary. I saw all the flag waving, the sudden surge of patriotism and all the God Bless America signs; to me that was emotionalism and Bush and the media were hyping it up. I instead chose to search out real answers. I read not just the U.S. news but news from various sources, using the Internet I tapped into information from all over the world. I also drew on my three years of following the Anabaptist faith (Amish/ Mennonites and Hutterites) back in the late 80’s- early 90's, they taught pacifism based on the teachings of Christ. I looked at cause and effect, rather than just looking for revenge.
I dropped out of of college to become more involved in the issues important to me. I participated in the Family Spirit Walk for Mother Earth, check out: Shundahai, calling for the abolition of the nuclear cycle and to support the indigenous people whose lands have been taken over by the U.S. government. Around twenty-five of us walked over 800 miles through 4 states in the fall of 2002 .
I also walked from Atlanta, GA with 14 others, to Ft. Benning, GA to take part in the School of Americas protest.
I am prepaing to join the International Peace Pilgrimage this November- August 2004, we will be walking in Australia and Japan. Prior to that I will be going to Austria in October to join my girlfriend, who will be joining me on the walk. Thus the reason I am passing on the duties of moderator to some other very capable folks at MFSO.
In love, peace and solidarity