Veterans for Peace program hosted at AU

An event remembering those who served in the “Great War”


Mary Powell served in the Vietnam War as a Nurse for internal medicine from 1967-1971.

Mason Jones

On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918, the war known as the Great War was brought to a halt. An armistice was signed bringing all global conflict involved in the war to an end.

It has been 101 years since the armistice was signed, which was called Armistice Day for years until 1954 when the latter was changed to Veterans Day.

Many soldiers sacrificed their lives in order to protect those they loved from the country they loved, and this day is made to honor those who have fallen and those who have fought and braved the horrors of war.

To honor those who have fallen and address the problems war can bring to people, Ashland University held an event on Nov. 13 sponsored by the Ashland Center for Nonviolence.

The event included Veterans for Peace members Mary Renolds Powell, who served in the Vietnam War, and Ian Y. Yee, who served in the Middle East and took part in Operation Desert Shield/Storm.

“The Ashland Center for Nonviolence started in 2004, when the U.S. was threatening war with Iraq in 2003, and many faculty and staff protested the war before it started which united people together in order to create this program,” Dr. Craig Hovey said.

Hovey, who is the director for the Ashland Center for Nonviolence, has been directing the program for six years as he tries to create a different type of event every year for the program.

“This is actually the first time we have had Veterans for Peace here as we wanted to coincide it with Veterans Day,” Hovey said. “We wanted for a long time to hear from veterans who have been stricken by war and are opposed to war as war affects everyone differently.”

Powell and Yee, have seen their fair share of war as each veteran had something to say about the experience that he/she witnessed, with many interpersonal feelings and thoughts as they witnessed the true cruelty of mankind.

Before each veteran spoke, they read through letters and thoughts written by people from wars the United States has been involved with in the past: the Civil War, World War I and II and Vietnam.

Each letter contained strong emotions tied to it as each writer had seen true evil unleashed in front of them with remarks to the injuries suffered, the heartbreaking screams and the everlasting pain of not knowing when the last breath will be inhaled.

When the last of the letters had been read aloud, the veterans themselves stood up to speak about their experiences in war.

“Because I was assigned to internal medicine, I am standing here today, because every nurse who I knew who was assigned to surgery or emergency room duties, today is on 100% disability for PTSD,” Powell said, who was a clinical nurse during the Vietnam War.

“The worst thing for us nurses was when we took care of a soldier for a very long time due to their illness, and then send them back to the bush. This is 1971, when no one in Vietnam believed we were doing anything good or right”.

After serving in Vietnam for four years beginning in 1967, Powell was finally able to return home to the states in 1971.

“Going to war is like going through a looking glass; the world is upside down and a lot of what you believed, felt, thought and were, could not exist because of what was expected of you,” Powell said.

While Mary experienced more of the physical side of war, Yee experienced the mental side a lot more as he talked about his sister, who also served in the Gulf War as a U.S. Air Force officer.

“On my second deployment out to the gulf I got an email from my brother saying that my sister killed herself,” Yee said. “She was suffering from what would become known as Gulf War syndrome”.

Gulf War syndrome is a chronic and multi-symptomatic disorder that is linked to many symptoms including cognitive problems, fatigue, rashes, diaherra, and muscle pain.

While Yee had little to some mental trauma, it is nothing compared to what his sisters was.

People fighting and killing each other affects everyone in a different way, as it can lead to isolation from others, PTSD and even suicide.

As a quote from actor Ron Perlman states, “War, war never changes.”