On September 1st, 1986, four veterans began a water-only "fast for life" on the Capitol steps in Washington, D.C. They wanted to to draw attention to, and to protest, President Reagan's illegal and extraordinarily vicious wars against the poor of Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala.
The veterans were George Mizo, U.S. Army, 1963-1970,Vietnam;
Brian Willson, U.S. Air Force, 1966-1970, Vietnam;
Duncan Murphy, U.S. Army, 1942-1945, ambulance driver, WWII;
Charles Litkey[sic], U.S. Army, 1966-1971, Vietnam, 2 tours;
(Veterans' identification taken from Brian Willson's own announcement of the fast, September 1, 1986.)
Charles Liteky was a Catholic chaplain who won the Medal of Honor for saving the lives of over 20 of his comrades who had come under heavy fire. On July, 29, 1986, he renounced his Medal of Honor in protest of U.S. foreign policy, laying it at the Vietnam Veteran's Wall. A Google search on "Charles Liteky" will turn up any number of sites with far more information than I can provide here. A good place to start is Liteky's An Open Letter to the U.S. Military, sent from Baghdad, May 7, 2003.
(Exactly a year later, on September 1, 1987, Brian Willson and Duncan Murphy began another fast, this time on the railroad tracks of the Concord Naval Weapons Station in California. It was cut short. As the train carrying weapons bound for the Contras in Nicaragua and the Salvadoran "killing machine" approached, Willson could not believe that it was not going to stop. He waited too long to jump away, and lost both of his legs as the train ran over him. Visit Willson's account of near-death at Concord at http://www.brianwillson.com/evracnwstest.html.)
I was privileged to meet Brian Willson in Los Angeles before the fast began, and I met Charlie Liteky at a house meeting in the San Fernando Valley during the fast itself. He had come west to participate in a Los Angeles area protest. At the house meeting, sponsored by the Santa Monica-based peace group Office of the Americas (OOA), Liteky and Daniel Ellsberg, of Pentagon Papers fame, each spoke about their personal journeys from being ardent supporters of U.S. foreign policy to committed opponents. OOA also managed the administrative functions of the fast in Washington.
Like several of our Los Angeles area friends, my friend Bonnie Norwood and I decided to go to Washington to show support for the vets. We arrived at the Capitol steps on October 7th, the 37th day of the fast. My thanks to Brian for the introductory photo and its accompanying text; other important information he supplied; his eagle eye for typos; and just for being who he is.
All photos shown except the first are mine. I have tried to capture the spirit of the vets' protest, and the moral support given them by their compatriots also opposed to president Reagan's policies. I apologize for a certain redundancy of photos, but I just liked them all. Commentary appears below each picture.