February 14, 2008

Report on the Iraq Veterans Teach-Ins

On Wednesday, February 13, the Northland Anti-War Coalition held three campus/community teach-ins titled "Iraq Veterans Speak Out on the War". I'm happy to report that all three events were very successful.

The first teach-in of the day was at noon at the University of Wisconsin-Superior. 75 people showed up, meaning there was literally standing room only in the meeting room. 61 people attended the 3:30pm teach-in at the College of St. Scholastica. And 66 people attended the 7pm teach-in at the University of Minnesota-Duluth.

At each of the teach-ins we had three main speakers, as well as some brief remarks from other veterans and an Iraqi exchange student. The three main speakers were Wes Davey, Brandon Day and Daniel Fanning.

-Daniel Fanning of Superior, WI is a former transportation specialist with the Wisconsin Army National Guard, who was deployed to Iraq December 2004 to December 2005.

-Wes Davey of St Paul, MN retired from a 28-year career in the US Army in 2005, was deployed to Iraq in 2003, and is the co-founder of the Minnesota chapter of Iraq Veterans Against the War.

Brandon Day, also of St. Paul, MN, enlisted in the Army after 9/11, served two tours in Iraq, is now an engineering student at the U of M, and is also a co-founder of MN IVAW.

A fair number of veterans were among all three audiences, together with students and community people from all walks of life.

Our teach-ins also generated an impressive amount of press coverage. Leading up to the event we received coverage from the Duluth News Tribune and Labor World newspapers, along with several interviews on local radio stations. On the day of the event there were reporters present from the Superior Daily Telegram, Duluth News Tribune and campus newspapers, along with TV Channels 21 and 10/13.

Our goal with these events was to provide people with direct experiences from soldiers who have served in Iraq, and whose opinions on the war deserve special consideration. We also wanted to use these teach-ins to introduce local Iraq veterans to the new Minnesota chapter of Iraq Veterans Against the War. I'd say we were very successful on both scores!

I'd like to conclude with some thanks yous. Thanks to the International Peace Studies Student Association for co-sponsoring the UWS teach-in, the Center for Just Living for co-sponsoring the CSS teach-in, and Students for Peace for co-sponsoring the UMD teach-in. Thanks to the moderators at all three events [Suzanne Griffith, Jay Newcomb and Steve Wick]. Thanks to everyone who helped do the press work and postering for the event [Peter K., Joel K., Carl S., Tegan W., Colette K., Gary S., Daniel F., Steve W., Eric, and quite a few more that I'm sure I'm forgetting]; thanks to all those who helped set up at each event, and clean up. And last, but certainly not least, a special thank you to Colette Knudsen for graciously preparing and bringing refreshments to all three events. You all rock!

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