Rising from the escalator at Grand Central Terminal on Monday (16 Dec), I was shocked to see a lifelike soldier model with a rifle, in charging position, a grenade in his pocket, a ferocious look on his face. The display was for Supporting Our Troops. I first walked by, but then thought otherwise. I approached one of the Vets, a kind elderly Vet from Fort Bragg, and asked him if he thought this was the best way to support our troops at this season (well any season). He said no and when we discussed it a bit more, he did agree that this was quite a violent-looking soldier. I asked the two Vets there if this could be removed, but they said no.
When I finished up at the Save the Library action, I was still thinking about that horrible model. So I bought some flower sprays, thinking I could put one the barrel of the rifle. But, no hole! So with the Vets permission, I covered the grenade with a poinsettia and a silver spray over the rifle. (I wish I had put a sock or something in the model’s mouth though!) Not ideal. Both Vets agreed, we need peace, no more wars! I hoped though they would take that model away.
A friend sent me a message later that day. No flowers were seen. She agreed: the model soldier really did look terribly violent and really not appropriate.
So when I returned the next day, the soldier was still there, but set behind a table and not quite as obvious as the previous day. I was ready with some more flowers, but then was told that I could not put them on the soldier model. It was against some military “rule” said the Vet in charge. He was an 83 year old Vet from the Korean War (whoops officially a conflict) and he was not very happy about the state of the world, all the wars/conflicts since then. He commented that few congressmen or the rich were among those serving in these wars.
And when I returned today (Thursday), ready with some more flowers, but in a mood to find where I could make an official complaint, the display, together with the model soldier was gone.
On reflection, Support Our Troops clearly had a right to be there. I recalled other times I have been in Grand Central Terminal doing things: a melt-in related to our nuclear power plant at Indian Point (do note, license expired); walking in silence with toy babies swaddled in cloth representing children killed by Israeli air strikes on Gaza; in silence, dressed in the orange suits of the Guantanamo inmates on hunger strike. Maybe its just my bias, but seeing this model soldier depicting such violence and anger. It just didn’t seem right. Let us support our troops by bringing them home, providing them and others with liveable wage-jobs, and re-building our broken country.
– Marty Rajandran
for the Granny Peace Brigade