The peace vigil outside Camp Ripley’s Main Gate during Open House Day counters Camp Ripley’s pro-war propaganda by sharing our message of peace with visitors entering and leaving the base.
By Doug Olson WAMM Newsletter Vol. 37, No. 4 Fall 2019
Brainerd Area Coalition for Peace (BACP) and allies, Women Against Military Madness (WAMM) and Veterans for Peace (VFP), are holding a peace vigil during Camp Ripley’s Open House Day in September to challenge the pro-war indoctrination of youth. Camp Ripley’s Open House Day is, in the words of BACP member Robin Hensel, “a recruitment and retention event.” The National Guard training facility, located in Little Falls, Minnesota, is one of the largest such facilities in the nation. Camp Ripley encourages children to eventually join the military when they turn 18 by giving them rides at an early age on tanks, Humvees, and helicopters. National Guardsmen have even instructed young children on how to fire machine guns (They don’t use real bullets, but they simulate the action)!
Vigil: Join fellow peace activists and anyone opposed to war, militarism, pro-war indoctrination, and police militarization for all or part of the vigil outside the main gate of Camp Ripley, Sunday, September 15, 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., 15000 Highway 115, Little Falls, Minnesota 56345.
But Camp Ripley’s indoctrination of youth isn’t limited to Open House Day. Camp Ripley encourages young people to visit the Minnesota Military Museum, located at Camp Ripley. During a 2013 field trip, children were allowed to climb tanks. The Little Falls Dairy Queen and Boy Scout Troop 51 co-hosted the trip. *
The peace vigil outside Camp Ripley’s Main Gate during Open House Day counters Camp Ripley’s pro-war propaganda by sharing our message of peace with visitors entering and leaving the base. The vigil is held for the entirety of Open House Day so that as many Camp Ripley visitors as possible see the vigil. Vigil participants interact with visitors and National Guard soldiers. Peace vigil participants talk about the real harm war does to civilians, soldiers, the environment, and entire nations.
Camp Ripley peace vigils have become a tradition for BACP and our allies in WAMM and VFP since 2012. While the 2012, 2013, and 2015 vigils received a hostile reception, the 2017 vigil received a mixed reception. A majority of passing motorists berated vigil participants, but a substantial minority, including a handful of National Guardsmen, offered their support for the vigil by honking their horns, giving thumbs up, and making peace signs. Hopefully, the 2019 vigil will receive even more support as Americans grow increasingly weary of never ending U.S. wars in the Middle East and Afghanistan.
Doug Olson is a member of Brainerd Area Coalition for Peace. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
A Potluck follows the vigil in beautiful Morrison County Park. There will be a tribute to BACP member Theresa Skorseth, who passed away in March after a long illness. Theresa was an extraordinarily kind and loved person who participated in BACP events and Camp Ripley peace vigils.
* “Kids ‘tankful’ for fun at Military Museum” by Terry Lehrke. Morrison County Record. Sunday, July 21, 2013. tinyurl.com/y3ugd47g
Teens Targeted Too! Camp Ripley was also the location last May of the Marine’s Minneapolis Regional Office’s Mini Boot Camp. Teenagers from all over the state of Minnesota were bused to Camp Ripley to experience what it’s like to train as a Marine. The camp is predictably not designed to encourage independent and critical thinking in youth, but rather absolute adherence to authority. A gunnery sergeant who trained the teens described it in a local newspaper, the Morrison County Record (emphasis WAMM’s): “Overall our initial reason is to establish dominance and set a standard immediately. We expect the best and will not allow them to deviate from that at all.”
Please note: The Brainerd Area Coalition for Peace Vigil takes place on the same day as the Women Against Military Madness Silent Auction. It is possible to attend both with a bit of driving to and from Little Falls.