Tuesday, December 21, 2010

After Action Report: Taking A Stand, Washington D.C. 12-16-2010

Ed Note:  This e-mail regarding the 12-16-2010 Take A Stand demonstrations, from Bill Homans (Watermelon Slim), a friend and fellow VVAW member, was originally sent for posting in the VVAW Veteran and on VVAW lists, when they publish the next ish.  It was so well done that after I saw it, I called and asked Slim if we could post it as an After-Action Report, here at VetSpeak, as well.  He readily assented. I believe that it is time that we all re-assess our impact on ending the war in Afghanistan, to date.  I have inserted photos by Bill Perry, Zach Choate, and Cheryl Biern.
Many believe, as I do, that we haven't been as effective as we could have and should have been.  That we should re-energize and re-organize, with the Veterans in the forefront of the anti-war movement as back in the day, and that the time for direct action is upon us.  Direct action that takes many forms but that requires personal commitment; not just words, but deeds. What we have been doing hasn't worked, so far. The 12-16-2010 Civil Disobedience actions in Washington D.C. are a reflection of that belief, and a lot of frustration, as well as an example of the power of commitment to principle, beyond political ideology.  We are all in this together, after all.  I am posting this and other follow-up here on our pages as inspiration for others to step up and join with us in ending these wars;  Not Tomorrow - Not Next Year - Now! WH
From: bill homans 
Subject: RE: [vvawcontacts] Thanks to DC protesters
To: varc@googlegroups.com
Date: Sunday, December 19, 2010, 1:50 AM

Well, Hola, Brothers and Sisters, 
Guess it's time I checked in. Zach Choate-- what a freakin HERO-- and Wayne Parker are halfway to Baton Rouge as I write, having dropped me off in Clarksdale around 10:15 CST.
It was an honor to have gone to Washington for my first time at a specifically antiwar demonstration since-- what-- January 1973?-- IN THE COMPANY OF SUCH STALWART BROTHERS AS THIS. Besides re-encountering my dear and close comrade from "the old days," Dave Ross!! Vietnam Veterans Against the War took more than active part in this action. I need only point you to the several videos which have already emerged from the action: VVAW members who are also members of VFP were numerous, by the VVAW buttons and patches everywhere evident.
Current "regular" members Doc Bjornson, Bill Perry, Al Kovnat, Sam Adams from Philadelphia, Patrick McCann from W. Maryland and Jim Baldridge from Baltimore, as well as this writer who came from Mississippi, represented the organization with grace, appropriate solemnity and that righteous anger that comes from standing next to the place where the levers of power are being handled by-- to be most generous-- a man not in control of an almost atavistic process of America desperately throwing its weight around. Flailing. Floundering.
Zach Choate, IVAW (with flag) at The Fence
The whole world now knows Zack Choate, the 10th Mountain Division Purple Heart Spec-4-- a gunner-- with whom I rode up to Washington. He and Wayne Parker, another Louisiana vet (Army 79-84) picked me up in Clarksdale, and we proceeded to operate with remarkable discipline (Who, Bill Homans?? ;) ). Zach and I were going to chain ourselves together on the fence. However, he was in his dress greens with one layer of thermals undernath, really not sufficient for this weather. He was at a bit of risk of hypothermia, so we opted not to chain ourselves back to back. But like a 10th Mtn. Div. trooper, he hung in there against the cold, until his turn came to be arrested. What a freaking WINTER SOLDIER. No greater honor could I have had than someone like this in my affinity group.
Zach Chaote, 10th Mtn Div., IVAW
Under Arrest 12-16-2010
There was what I must report, having watched the entire process, a certain moment of caving-in, or perhaps only lack of tactical preparedness on the part of the leaders of this nonetheless successful action (Holy shit did Ellsberg zing it!!). Plastic handcuffs were ready for use. There was a box of almost 200 of them (I brought a couple home for souvenirs, lol).  But somewhere between the briefing meeting Wednesday evening and the demo, someone forgot to distribute (or made the decision not to) the handcuffs, and then, inexplicably, showed up at the site with the whole box of them, which of course the Rangers said no, so there weren't any handcuffs. There was even talk about the distribution of the handcuffs, but I wasn't sure that anything was done (I was already prepared with my chain) about it. Unfortunately, it was not.
Thus, having concluded as well as possible that the police would be actively resisting the handcuffing, Sam and I decided that the best plan was for me to chain myself (since Zach would not be with me) as close to the fence as possible, in a place where I too would have to be arrested. We chose a lamp post that unfortunately ended up being the wrong end of the protest for press coverage, so I really didn't get very much coverage whatsoever. I did, however have the benefit of, as it were, an F.O. position, and was able to observe from a different, and better, angle than most the entire CD-and-arrest process, so it wasn't a total tactical blunder.
The police behavior was really quite exemplary. They were doing their jobs, and they knew that so were we. The gravitas of this crowd was one that they haven't ever dealt with, maybe. The police dealt with vets in '71. Now they're dealing with some of the same vets, but at their grandfather's age. It makes for respect, and I saw various sign of respect from the the police to the antiwar activists. Mike Hopkins, the IVAW infantry vet, is a really big ol' boy, pro linebacker size, and he insisted on being limp-dragged. The police assigned to him whined about it a little at first to him, but then did their jobs as cheerfully as possible, according to Hopkins. The holding and processing part was a bit slow, but there were rookies assigned (a few) on their FIRST DAY, and there were detectives at the end volunteeering to do the paperwork. And they were all cheerful. I gotta say, good job by them.
And the "Taps" ceremony was done with the greatest respect. I noted to the crowd that we needed not only to resist but to mourn, and that the burden of this war is being borne unevenly. The flag we used was (I couldn't make this up) at a thrift store, a St. Vincent's I think, and is obviously a coffin flag-- used once and then discarded!! I bought it for $15, and told them what it was-- it really didn't make that much of an impression on the ladies-- like, "Oh, that's nice. I never thought about that." I asked at the briefing meeting whether there were any Gold Star Mothers who would be attending, and no one spoke up, else we would have presented the flag to one after folding.

Zach C. arrives at WH with Tri-fold Flag
In all dispatches I may make, I am going to continue to say "Vietnam Veterans Against the War did .... or said...." when we act. We all must do so, and if someone wants to be in the position of denying what the organization DOES, then that's his or their decision. I speak for this organization, just like all us contacts-- all us members-- do.  But VVAW was definitely part of the December 16 action. I and the other members were proud to represent us, and those around us were proud that we were there. 
I made it home thinking I might go back out to the juke joint (oh, btw, the after-party was very small but memorable. Wouldn't be surprised if you saw some good Youtube video, including my song "WBCN" about us and the Nazis at The Last Patrol).

Bill Homans
VVAW Mississippi Contact
Prouder than ever Life Member

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Washington D.C. 12-16-2010: Veterans Move from Mobilization to Resistance

These are the times that try men's souls...
The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated. Thomas Paine, The Crises, 12-23-1776.

Bill Homans (Watermelon Slim) A 21st century Winter Soldier, chained to a White House light pole in protest against the war in Afghanistan 12-16-2010

Slim (VVAW Ms) was in D,C. in the company of other VVAW members, who were there in support of Veterans For Peace's call to action for Civil Disobediance; that of chaining themselves to the White House fence at the end of a march from Lafayette park, to the White House.  Slim had come to town with Zach Choate, a SouthEast Region IVAW member, that is an Operation Recovery activist and spokesperson. 
Those in this photo (courtesy of Bill Perry), are Al Kovnat, Dr Jon Bjornson, Sam Adams, and Bill Perry of the Philly Chapter of VVAW, and Jim Baldridge (holding the flag staff) of the Baltimore Chapter. I have no idea who it was that is kneeling in front, or holding up the flag tip on the right side; but, thanks for being there with my brothers. These folks joined with others at the White House fence, and handcuffed or chained themselves to it in solidarity, and with unity of purpose; that of ending the continuing war in Afghanistan...all were arrested, as seen in the compelling video (below) of the speech by Chris Hedges, and the accompanying arrests of all Winter Soldiers present and accounted for...
Watermelon Slim (VVAW) rallies the troops

Mike Hearington (VFP),  Zach Choate (IVAW); CDn' at The Fence

In all, 131 activists from VFP, VVAW, and IVAW, including Daniel Ellsberg and members of supporting organizations were arrested as a result of their Civil Disobedience.  It is reported that two-thirds were Veterans, and the remainder were from Code Pink and other organizations that were there to Take A Stand For Peace On Earth. They were unified in purpose in calling for an immediate end to the continuing war in Afghanistan
Join us as the resistance continues to grow:
Vietnam Veterans Against The War
Veterans For Peace
Iraq Veterans Against The War

Semper Fi!
Willie Hager

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Anti-war Veterans and Supporters Mass at the Gates of Power....

Taking A Stand!

Washington, D.C - Members of Veterans for Veterans For Peace, Vietnam Veterans Against The War, and Iraq Veterans Against The War rallied with other peace and justice organizations in Washington D.C., today.  Together, they delivered a unified and powerful message of Peace On Earth - NOW!, to the gates of the White House. The delivery came in the form of Post Cards of Peace floated over the White House Fence, and 120 Veterans and other activists chaining themselves to the White House Fence in solidarity, and commitment to up the ante in the struggle for peace, in the coming months.  

Please share this compelling video, courtesy of davidcnswanson, with your social networks and list shares. Hopefully, this action will be the start of a prairie fire of grassroots activism in the name of Peace & Justice that will end US involvement in the current wars in Iraq (Yes, we're still there...after all these years) & in Afghanistan.

In Unity,
Willie Hager

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Action Alert: Rally For Peace On Earth: Washington D.C. 12-16-2010

Take A Stand For Peace!

An Anti-war Veteran Primer

In the beginning, there was Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Inc. (VVAW); a national veterans' organization that was founded in New York City in 1967 after six Vietnam vets marched together in a peace demonstration. It was organized to voice the growing opposition among returning servicemen and women to the still-raging war in Indochina, and grew rapidly to a membership of over 30,000 throughout the United States as well as active duty GIs stationed in Vietnam. Through ongoing actions and grassroots organizations, VVAW exposed the ugly truth about US involvement in Southeast Asia and our first-hand experiences helped many other Americans to see the unjust nature of that war.


Statue of Liberty Takeover - Not once, but twice...

 On December 26, 1971, fifteen VVAW activists barricaded and occupied the Statue of Liberty for two days in a successful attempt to bring attention to the antiwar cause. Simultaneous protests took place across the country, such as at the historic Betsy Ross house in Philadelphia (for 45 minutes) and Travis Air Force Base in California (for 12 hours). Other VVAW members in California also briefly occupied the Saigon Government consulate in San Francisco. VVAW occupied the Statue of Liberty a second time in 1976 to bring renewed attention to veteran issues.[30][31][32]

Winter Soldier - Detroit 1971  
The "Winter Soldier Investigation" was media event sponsored by the Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) from January 31, 1971 – February 2, 1971. It was intended to publicize war crimes and atrocities by the United States Armed Forces and their allies in the Vietnam War. The VVAW challenged the morality and conduct of the war by showing the direct relationship between military policies and war crimes in Vietnam. The three-day gathering of 109 veterans and 16 civilians took place in DetroitMichigan. Discharged servicemen from each branch of military service, as well as civilian contractors, medical personnel and academics, all gave testimony about war crimes they had committed or witnessed during the years of 1963–1970.[1][2][3

Operation Dewey Canyon III - A limited Incursion into the Country of Congress 

"This peaceful anti-war protest organized by VVAW took its name from two short military invasions of Laos and Cambodia by US and South Vietnamese forces. Dubbed "Operation Dewey Canyon III," it took place in Washington, D.C, April 19 through April 23, 1971. It was referred to by the participants as "a limited incursion into the country of Congress." .[17][18]

 "On Friday, April 23, more than 800 veterans, one by one, tossed their medals, ribbons, discharge papers and other war mementos on the steps of the Capitol, rejecting the Vietnam war and the significance of those awards. Several hearings in Congress were held that week regarding atrocities committed in Vietnam and the media's inaccurate coverage of the war. There were  also hearings on proposals to end the United States' participation in the war. The vets planted a tree on the mall as part of a ceremony symbolizing the veterans' wish to preserve life and the environment."[25]

In addition, they also rallied on capitol Hill...
"I would like to say for the record, and for the men behind me who are also wearing the 
uniform and their medals, that my being here is really symbolic. I am not here as John Kerry,but as one member of a group of one thousand, which in turn is a small representation of a 
very much larger group of veterans in this country. Were it possible for all of them to sit at 
this table they would be here and present the same kind of testimony." 
John Kerry to Senate Foreign Relations Committee, April 22, 1971

Operation Last Patrol - Facing off with Nixon at Republican National Convention, Miami 1972

"I was in Miami in 1972, with the California contingent of the Last Patrol, and was on the Silent March. We were faced off with the Florida Highway Patrol, and elements of the 82nd Airborne and Florida National Guard. There was fear in their eyes as we shuffled silently by, on our way to the Fontainebleau, where Nixon was holed up. 
        Our silence 
unnerved them, just as it was intended to do. I am sure that many of them thought that we were going to keep marching right up to the Fontainebleau penthouse (Nixon Bunker) and drag him out into the streets, for all to see and publically revile. They were visibly relieved when we pulled up and rallied around the front of the hotel and began making speeches supporting our Demands, and accusing Nixon and his cronies of being war criminals. You coulda' cut the tension in the air with a knife. What a rush!" (WH, The Veteran, Fall 2008)

Unity - Struggle - Victory

Vietnam Veterans Against The War at Paris Peace Accord Negotiations

Now We Again Take A Stand For Peace - Dec 16, 2010 -  Washington D.C.
Join Us!

VVAW members from all over the country are very much still in the fight for peace and justice.  There will be a contingent of VVAW members rallying under the VVAW banner in Lafayette Park for the Dec 16th demonstrations. They will be joining other anti-war Veterans organizations as they Take A Stand For Peace at the White House Fence.  If you are a VVAW member and will be in D.C. for this critical action, and would like to rally with VVAW; contact Bill Perry, Philly Chapter VVAW, at 215-945-3350 or 215-945-1259 for VVAW rally location and time.  Bill will be coordinating activities on location on behalf of the VVAW Veterans Advisory & Resource Caucus.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The War Comes Home...

Soldiers at Ft Lewis Fed Up With Mistreatment
by EDITOR/November 2, 2010
ED NOTE: This piece was originally posted at www.coffeestrong.orgI am reposting it here, with permission, as a premier example of why IVAW’s Operation Recovery is such a critical undertaking.  Quite simply put; it will save American military members’ lives not only in Iraq and Afghanistan, but here at home as well.  I urge everyone who reads this and is moved by it to become an active supporter of Operation Recovery, and to begin your support by immediately writing your congressional representatives and demanding that they enact legislation to halt further harassment and re-deployment of those seeking help with the socially debilitating manifestations of symptoms diagnostically defined as PTSD.  Fit for duty in combat means, by definition, mentally and physically fit.  To send our troops into combat when they are not mentally fit is a criminal act, to my way of thinking; as is driving soldiers to suicide through neglect of their symptoms and harassment for seeking help.WH
JOINT BASE LEWIS MCHORD, WASHINGTON An anonymous group of soldiers in 4-9 Infantry Brigade have released a statement detailing how the Army drove one soldier to suicide. It details the humiliation that soldiers who seek help for mental problems face from their superiors. This comes on the heels of a rash of incidents involving soldiers from JBLM who had untreated mental issues, including one soldier who shot a police officer in Salt Lake City, UT. The letter reads:
“On March 17, 2010, Spc. Kirkland returned home from his second deployment to Iraq. Three days later he was dead—killed by the Army. Spc. Kirkland was sent home from Iraq because the burden of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder became too great—so much that he wanted to take his own life. Many of us also struggle with the effects of PTSD, which is a completely natural, human response to what we are exposed to overseas. It is not a sign of weakness or cowardice, but the inevitable result of serving in combat. It is a burden we all share, and we all deserve adequate treatment and understanding for the sacrifices we have made.
Upon returning home, Spc. Kirkland was not more than three steps into the barracks before the acting First Sergeant publicly ridiculed him, calling him a “coward” and a “pussy,” knowing full well that Kirkland was suffering from severe depression and anxiety. He was then carelessly assigned to a room by himself, and like every other soldier with PTSD, given substandard care by Army mental health doctors. Forty-eight hours after he was in the care of 4-9 Infantry, he was dead. Spc. Kirkland had a wife and young daughter. Before his blood had even dried off the floor, our respected leadership was already mocking his death.
Spc. Kirkland did not kill himself. He was killed by the Army. The Army inadequately treats PTSD, while it re-enforces a culture of humiliation for the soldiers who suffer from it. Spc. Kirkland was accused of faking his trauma. PTSD is a legitimate medical condition that is unavoidable in a combat zone. As soldiers who lay down our lives every day, we deserve adequate treatment for the wounds we receive in combat. We deserve to be treated for PTSD just like we would for a bullet wound or shrapnel. Spc. Kirkland received the opposite. But what happened to Spc. Kirkland is not an isolated incident. This is happening at such a high rate in the Army that it is becoming an epidemic. Now, more active duty soldiers commit suicide than are killed in combat. Every year, the number of suicides far surpasses the year before, and 2010 is already dwarfing last year’s numbers.
How has the Army responded? Scandal after scandal has broken out about Army officers ordering doctors not to diagnose PTSD; to instead deny veterans the care they deserve, pump them full of pills, and return them to combat. It has become Army policy to do everything possible to avoid diagnosing PTSD. And when it is diagnosed, the care is inadequate.
Throughout the Army, soldiers have to fight for simple medical care. The Army doesn’t care at all about us, our lives, or our families—and hundreds of us are dying because of it. We are denied care because the Army needs bodies to throw into two quagmires, and because the VA doesn’t want to pay us the benefits we deserve. Maj. Keith Markham, Executive Director of 4-9 Infantry, put it very clearly in a private memo to his platoon leaders: “We have an unlimited supply of expendable labor.” That’s what we soldiers are to the Army and the Officer Corps: expendable labor. Spc. Kirkland was expendable, and we witness that fact every day. But soldiers all over the Army are standing up. At Ft. Hood, the base with the highest number of suicides, protests have been held both outside the base and in the hospitals, consisting of active duty soldiers demanding better treatment. All over the country soldiers are organizing in their units to fight for adequate care. The Army will never give us the care we deserve unless we force it to do so. As soldiers, we have rights. Mental health care is a right for the job we were made to do. We have the right to be adequately treated and compensated for PTSD—but the Army is not doing that, so we have the right to collectively organize and demand proper treatment.
Actual defense spending in the U.S. is over 1 trillion dollars a year. Most of that money goes into the pockets of defense contractors, while only a tiny fraction is allocated for mental health care. There are hundreds of billions of dollars for new fighter jets, or to open Burger Kings and KBR facilities overseas, but when extra resources are needed to combat a suicide epidemic, we only get scraps from the table.”
The Army has taken no disciplinary actions against the leadership involved with SPC Kirkland’s death. Nor has the Army released any statements regarding the circumstances behind the incident.
GI Voice, DBA COFFEE STRONG, is a veteran owned and operated coffee house for soldiers, veterans, and military families to speak out about their experiences in a comfortable and safe environment. We provide free GI rights counseling, veterans benefit advocacy, and PTSD counseling for soldiers and veterans. Coffee Strong is located 300 meters from the Madigan Gate of Fort Lewis at 15109 Union Ave. SW Ste B.
For more information please contact:
Seth Manzel
Executive Director
GI Voice, DBA COFFEE STRONG                                                                                                 253-228-8912 


Thursday, October 07, 2010

IVAW Press Release: Operation Recovery Launch

Today Iraq Veterans Against the War publicly announces our Operation Recovery campaign to Stop the Deployment of Traumatized Troops. Our team of campaign organizers has been working around the clock for the past month to prepare for today's action in Washington, D.C.

You can do your part to raise awareness by sending a Letter to the Editor of your local paper. Click here to send a Letter to your local Editor. We've made it easy.

Today's Action

  • The campaign launch will start at 9:15 AM EST at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center where we will hold a ceremony in honor of all those wounded in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • From there we march 6 miles to Capitol Hill, where we will testify about our experiences being deployed in war zones while suffering from traumatic injuries.
  • At Capitol Hill, we will read a letter out loud before delivering it to the offices of members of the Senate Armed Services Committee. (The letter is also being sent by mail to officials within the Pentagon and Veterans Administration.) The letters will serve to put these officials on notice that service members and veterans are standing up for their right to heal, and we will expose those responsible for the deployment of troops who are suffering from trauma.
Today's launch marks the beginning of Phase One of our campaign. Over the next several weeks, we will work to investigate the issues, decide which officials will become our campaign's targets, and work to raise awareness about the campaign.

That's where you come in.

You can help spread the word by sending a Letter to the Editor of your local paper about the issue of traumatized troops. With the number of troop suicides now surpassing the total combat-related deaths in Afghanistan, we've got to bring this madness to an end.

We know that these wars cannot continue without using exhausted and traumatized troops, and we are determined to stop their deployment.

Send a Letter to the Editor of your local paper today and get the word out.

And stay tuned for updates on today's campaign launch.

Wish us luck!

In Solidarity, The Campaign Team

P.S. With the help of supporters like you, we surpassed our goal of getting 2,000 pledges of support for Operation Recovery. It feels good to know that 3,500 supporters will be standing with us today. Thank you.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Where have all the flowers gone?

Ed Note: This piece has been submitted for publication in the VVAW newspaper, The Veteran...  I apologize for the delay in getting it out to y'all, but the delay doesn't change the message, or Cathy's impact on many of our lives...WH

My Heart is Broken…
by  Willie Hager
VVAW Fl Contact

On Thursday, September 16, 2010, my brother SgtWayne wrote: "Cathy Kniffin passed at 6:30 PM yesterday."

As painful as it is for all us...and it's really fuckin' painful...my heart and my eyes are filled with tears...she was one of the very special angels, as well as a warrior princess who never flinched in the face of tyranny; but take heart, she is in a better place, her soul now rejoined with John's. What a pair they were...Texas VVAW, Oleo Strut, Last Patrol, Gainesville 8 (12) Trial, TTU face off with the Swift Boat crowd in 2005. What an example she leaves for myself and others that I have met since the VVAW 40th Reunion and who are just finding their way back into the anti-war veterans movement and are looking for some direction for their re-kindled energy.  Like my biker friend and San Diego VVAW brother Mutt would say; she was a for real VVAW "patch wearer". She lived the old school VVAW 10 Objectives...hell, she helped write them...and by her example inspired many others in VVAW, including myself.

This is a photo of a smiling Cathy…that’s her on the far right (in the picture, not politically)… at the 2005 TTU 5th Triennial Vietnam Symposium, which she was instrumental in bringing about. With her in the photo, L to R, are; Nancy Miller Saunders (Panel Moderator), Alex Primm, Terry DuBose (standing), Calixto Cabrera, myself, and the ever smilin' Kathy.  I'm thinkin'  it was SgtWayne taking the picture, but either way, he was there with us, as were Scott Camil and Gerry Nicosia.  (Video of the presentation can be found in the sidebar, under Video Locker banner)

It was all happening thanks to Cathy and her commitment to maintaining VVAW's legacy, and commemorating John and his personal legacy.  What a woman!  It was she and John who helped to perpetuate VVAW's involvement in the Vietnam Symposiums at TTU.  It was sorta John’s last hurrah.  After he passed from Agent Orange complications, she picked up the banner and carried on the project, and threw the gauntlet at the feet of the Swift Boat Veterans and then assembled the panel pictured here to face off with them regarding their lies about VVAW’s history, and their trashing of John Kerry regarding his 1970s association with VVAW, during his last presidential campaign.

I'm forever grateful that I got the opportunity to share the time with her there at TTU, after having not having seen her or talked to her in over thirty-five years...what a rush! It was she who made it possible for me to be able to travel there and participate.  The photo is how I will always remember Cathy; in the thick of the fight, and smiling...

Others remember her with fondness as well, as is reflected in this Obituary from a local Texas newspaper. I can’t lend attribution, as my memory buds fail me on which paper it was, and I didn’t record it with the copy of the Obit…so, sue me, if you have to.  At any rate, here’s what other’s in her life shared about her:

Obituary for Catherine G. Kniffen

Catherine Goodnow Kniffin passed away Wednesday, September 15, 2010 at Christopher House in Austin. Born an Army Brat in Champaign, Illinois, she lived many places – Philippines, Texas, Kansas, Paris France, and Florida. She received her BA in music therapy from Alverno College, Milwaukee, in 1966.

In 1970 she married John Kniffin, a Marine Corps Vietnam veteran, with whom she was active in anti-Vietnam War protests.  Cathy and John settled in Brenham where she worked for the Brenham State School for thirty years.  John preceded her in death 8 years ago.

Cathy spent her life in service to others—always mindful of those less fortunate.  She lived her life passionately, fully, and freely.  What she believed, she believed strongly.  Whether marching for civil rights, or in protest to the Vietnam War, or taking care of her many animals, (from the tiniest spider to her beloved horses), or faithfully preserving the ecological balance of her environment, she was completely dedicated and purposeful.  

The family will hold a memorial ceremony at Cathy’s ranch near Brenham at noon on Sunday, 19 September. Her survivors are her mother, Jane Goodnow; her sister, Elisabeth; Brothers John, Michael, Stephen; three nephews and five nieces.
Remembrances may be made to the Best Friends Animal Society, www.bestfriends.org/d/detail.cfmaction=df&df=memorial&memorial_ch=1&tc=WMEMRA , the Sierra Club, or similar organization of your choice.
Thanks, SgtWayne...