In May, 2008, Col. Ann Wright (Ret.) brought her book tour to NC.  “Dissent:  Voices of Conscience” co-authored with Susan Dixon, tells the stories of government employees and service members who risked careers, reputations, and in some cases their freedom to challenge the official deceptions leading to the invasion and occupation of Iraq.  Col Wright (29 years service in the US Army and Army Reserve; 16 years in the Foreign Service) was the highest ranking US diplomat to resign her post in protest of the invasion of Iraq.  (See www.koabooks.com).

Ann’s NC book tour was sponsored by NC Peace Action, Code Pink, Grandmothers for Peace, and the NC Veterans for Peace.  Her 6-day, 9-city tour was highlighted by her keynote address to the NC Peace Action Peacemaker Award Dinner in Raleigh on May 22.

In October, Col. Wright returned to NC for a variety of appearances and speaking engagements in Chapel Hill, Charlotte, Fayetteville and Raleigh.  Ann addressed students and faculty at UNC Chapel Hill and Meredith College in Raleigh.  In Fayetteville, she participated in a news conference addressing the issue of military women murdered by military men; the 4th such murder in NC committed just a week prior to her visit to Fayetteville.  The news conference was hosted by Quaker House, and co-sponsored by the Cumberland County chapter of the National Organization of Women.  The events of October 8 included participation by Veterans for Peace Executive Director Michael McPherson, a vigil at the entrance to Ft. Bragg, and a wreath-laying ceremony at the grave-site of a woman murdered by her military husband in 1974.  The murdered woman’s daughter, Christine Horne, laid the wreath at her mother’s grave.  Ms. Horne was 9 years old at the time of her mother’s death.  (See story here: http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/node/36878).

On Thursday, 10/9, Col. Wright was hosted at a luncheon sponsored by the Charlotte Chapter of Veterans for Peace prior to speaking and book-signing at Barnes and Noble Bookstore.  The audience included local area veterans and an organizer of women veterans who traveled 4 ½ hours from Knoxville, TN to attend the event.

On Thursday evening, Col. Wright spoke to a full house at the Piedmont Unitarian Universalist Mallard Rd. Church.  Video of Ann’s remarks, filmed by Charlotte VFP member John Autry, is available at Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JGverSpkUqE

Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OleldVqc4UU

Part 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OIznseNMhbs

Part 4: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tgv4O9z3EOI

Part 5: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=90pfJC-9gSw

Part 6: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iolquKgRlnk

Part 7: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eSE9O4kP3Uk

Part 8: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t7D3sphFOeo.

On Friday, 10/10, Ann addressed the Veterans’ Issues Forum of the 2008 NC NAACP Convention in Raleigh.  During her presentation, she was joined by Sgt. Natasha McKinnon (Ret.) a disabled amputee Iraq War Veteran now studying at NCSU, and struggling courageously with both traumatic brain injury (TBI) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Ann’s final NC speaking engagement on this tour was with the NC NOW Convention in Raleigh on 10/11, before flying to Washington DC to participate in the Turtle Rising Drum Circle with Native American women at the Capitol.

In addition to her scheduled appearances, Ann attended a reading of “Holy Roller” by her friend and fellow VFPer Diane Wilson at the Regulator Bookstore in Durham.  Ms. Wilson, a former shrimp boater from the Texas Gulf, participated in the recent banner display at the national Archives Building (See story at http://www.veteransforpeace.org/newsroom.vp.html#nationarchives).  She is known as an environmental activist and author of “An Unreasonable Woman” which chronicles her sheroic resistance to big-time Texas Gulf polluters.

Following her appearance at the NCAAP Convention, Ann attended a performance of ”Speaking Without Tongues” at the Arts Center in Carrboro.  The play was co-written and performed by victims of domestic violence, some of whom participated in the Fayetteville events earlier in the week.  One of the most striking features of the superb performance was that the all female cast represented white, black, native American, latino and south Asian victims of abuse.

Ann Wright is one of America’s foremost voices of conscience.  She travels constantly to speak on the principles that provoked her resignation from the US diplomatic corps.  She has testified at the trial of war resistor Lt. Ehren Watada.  She has been arrested 15 times for acts of civil resistance.

We are now making preparations for a fall ’09 Ann Wright NC campus tour, and invite suggestions as to campus calendars and possible venues.

Many thanks to Al McSurely, Amina Turner, Thad Washington, Chuck Fager, Roberta Waddle, Michael McElreath, Sarah Sheilds, Gene Stewart, Mike Corwin, John Autry, Brian Staton, Mimi Davis, Elaine and Mark Englander and many others for making Ann’s October ’08 NC tour possible.

Post Script

Ann has proposed a permanent presence in DC by peace activists, until we end the US wars and occupations,  Ann’s recommendation to UFPJ is to nominate state delegations to occupy the capitol each week (larger states filling in for smaller states plus the extra 2 weeks).  Another proposal is for each of 435 congressional districts to recruit volunteers on a rotating basis to have a continuing presence, drumming our message of peace at the Capitol.

UFPJ has so far resisted these proposals, as well as calls for accountability, ie impeachment and indictment of the architects of aggressive war and torture.  The UFPJ convention will be held in Chicago this December.  We need a concerted effort, and constant presence, to press our vigilance for peace to the new congress and the new administration.