Peacemakers On The Scene

MFSO Conference - D.C. - 01/18/2003

MFSO took part in the National March on D.C. - 01/18/2003. The following report was filed with Peacehq by co-founder and Peacemaker Jeff McKenzie.


Some of you have asked for a report of our time in DC. Since there is a lot in print already about the demonstrations I will focus just on Military Families Speak Out and our role in DC. A week before I headed to DC, we (Charley, Nancy and myself) were busy talking to several organizations and individuals about upcoming events. One news conference that had been planned fell apart at the last moment but around the same time another news conference opportunity developed. Since details about the press conference were last minute all three of us scrambled for ways to attend.

The press conference was held in the West Room of the National Press Club in DC. It was a joint conference billed as, families of current service members (MFSO) and Gulf War Veterans (Veterans of Common Sense) question U.S. military build-up in the Gulf. The room was packed with television cameras and reporters. Opening remarks were made by Erik Gustafson, Executive Director, Education for Peace in Iraq Center ( and Gulf War veteran. Other speakers were: Charles Sheehan-Miles, Board of Director for Veterans of Common Sense (, author, speaker and decorated Gulf War combat veteran; Nancy Lessin, Co-Founder of MFSO, Health and Safety Coordinator for the MA AFL-CIO; Jeffrey McKenzie, Co-Founder of MFSO, full-time unpaid antiwar/ anti-nuke activist; Stephen Robinson, Executive Director, National Gulf War Resource Center ( Others standing with us: Charley Richardson, Co-Founder of MFSO, Nancy's husband, Director of the Labor Extension Program at the University of MA; J. Stephen Cleghorn, PhD, Deputy Executive Director of the Community Partnership for the Prevention of Homelessness in Washington, DC, member of MFSO; Erin Cole, Spokeswoman for Veterans of Common Sense, veteran of the Gulf War; James Landrith, Veterans Against the Iraq War (VAIW),, Gulf War veteran; Briggs Seekins, Maine Veterans for Peace, Gulf War veteran; Lt. Col. Joe Mayer (Ret.), Vietnam Veteran. After our opening statements the floor was opened up to reporters questions. Then reporters did individual interviews, which led to statements on the BBC. I know the conference was covered on CNN and CSPAN. I'm sure stories appeared in several other media outlets as the room was packed.

Charley and Nancy did an interview for Swiss TV, the Miami Herald and the Chicago Tribune. Previous to all this, they were interviewed by People's magazine. Jeff appeared that Friday night briefly on MSNBC debating Ronald Radosh, Senior Adjunct Fellow at the Hudson Institute and author of Commies: A Journey Through the Old Left, the New Left and the Leftover Left. Jeff was interviewed for a French magazine over the phone and by the Washington Post before the big rally on Saturday. Charley took to the stage at the end of the rally to speak.

Saturday afternoon we held our first official meeting at the Wm. Penn House, which lasted over two hours. John Judge from the Washington Peace Center (John secured the meeting space for us), Erik Gustafson from EPIC, Nancy, Charley, Jeff, Julie, Emily, Jordan, Victor, Dunk and Adreanne attended. So the meeting was by no means large but we had not expected it to be, with our families all over the country and the short notice. I believe Nancy has the notes of what we accomplished so I will let her fill in when she gets time.

Throughout our time in DC we met with people that have have been influential in the antiwar and peace movement, as well as, very supportive of MFSO. It was a chance to put a face with the numerous emails that have been sent back and forth.

So we have returned from DC to a backlog of emails, phone calls and commitments. We also have seen tremendous growth in MFSO not only on the Yahoo listserv but the amount of traffic on our new website, so our trip was very successful. Charley and Nancy are speaking out in Canada. On Monday, I have a German television crew coming to my house to do an interview that will air on primetime in Germany on Feb. 2. I also completed an article for a Belgium magazine and an op-ed piece for the D&C out of Rochester.

Our work reflects our love and support for our sons and all those serving in uniform. We believe we have a unique role and special need in the antiwar and peace movement. We also thank those that have supported us and others that are speaking out. We encourage others to speak out in anyway you feel comfortable.

I apologize for any mistakes or omissions I might have made and I humbly accept feedback.

Peace and solidarity, Jeffrey McKenzie co-founder MFSO

I would like to invite you to visit:
You can also post messages or subscribe using the info below.
Post message:

Jeff McKenzie, reporting


Jeff McKenzie