The Chicago chapter of IVAW made its way to the VDC to continue a tradition that has lead this nation to radical change throughout its brief history. "It was Thomas Paine's Common Sense, which appeared in the English colonies of North America early in 1776 and emblazoned across the sky the bold, exciting idea that was in the mind of more and more colonists: Independence from England!" Today there is another exciting idea that is in the minds of the American people: ending the war.
IVAW and the VDC are reawakening a history of dissent that has been white washed by a patriotic history of hegemony and obedience. This reawakening will be told with pamphlets, zines, posters, fliers, blogs, youtube clips, ect... and will be told by the creative voices of the people.
Thomas Paine called for independence with a pamphlet called Common Sense 1776 writing, "Society in every state is a blessing, but government even in its best state is but a necessary evil."
Two-Time Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient Major General Smedley Butler upon his return from World War One declared in an essay, "War is a racket. It always has been.
It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives."
Vietnam Veterans Against the War continued this tradition of dissent by holding a Winter Soldier Investigation in which veterans testified to the illegal nature of US foreign policy. John Kerry testified to congress saying, "We who have come here to Washington have come here because we feel we have to be winter soldiers now. We could come back to this country; we could be quiet; we could hold our silence; we could not tell what went on in Vietnam, but we feel because of what threatens this country, the fact that the crimes threaten it, not reds, and not redcoats but the crimes which we are committing that threaten it, that we have to speak out."
Today this tradition is carried on as veterans return from combat in foreign lands, seek out spaces to speak out, and demand an end to the war and occupation that they have contributed to. The VDC is a space that has been claimed as a platform of empowerment. IVAW used the space on its opening day to talk of their experience in combat and contributions to dehumanization of the supposed enemy and of themselves.
It is not just these series of events that are so important to this tradition but the spaces and all the time between. The daily struggles for empowerment that is fought for everyday. It is the variety of experiences that only personal testimony and expression can convey. The ability for a community to be formed around the idea of a continuum of a diverse public voice is what was happening on that first day at the VDC.
Adam, Tyler, and myself (Aaron) told of our experience in the military... asked our new community to help us get the word out to the rest of the community. So we sat down and went to work making truth in recruitment fliers and zines, printing IVAW tshirts, and continuing the discussion...
Radical change is whisper that is growing and growing...
 Zinn, Howard: Artist in times of war. pp. 93