Two national speakers, retired Colonel Ann Wright and retired Major Danny Sjurson, will headline the agenda at Peacestock 2019, an event devoted to peace and justice sponsored by the Red Wing chapter of Veterans for Peace.
"This is an opportunity for the community to hear from speakers, not only from Minnesota, but from around the country, regarding their concerns about our government," said Ann Wright, retired colonel with the U.S. Army. "It doesn't matter whether it is Bush, Obama, or Trump, it's what the administrations are doing in terms of war activities."
Wright is concerned about the amount of money the U.S. spends on military actions and military equipment.
"Well over 50% of our national budget goes for what we call defense," she said, "but actually, in the opinion of many, it is offense rather than defense."
Wright, who lives in Honolulu, was on active duty for 13 years and spent 16 years in the Army reserves. She joined the U.S. Foreign Service in 1987 and was on the State Department team that reopened the embassy in Afghanistan in 2001. She retired in March 2003 in opposition to the Iraq War.
"I do a lot of international work and go to places our government really doesn't want us to go," Wright said. "They don't want us to see the effects of some of our policies."
She has worked in Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan, Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua and North Korea. In 2015, she was with an international group of 30 women called Women Cross the DMZ, when the group met in North Korea and cross the demilitarized zone into South Korea where they held a peace symposium in Seoul.
The second keynote speaker, Danny Sjursen, graduated from West Point and recently retired as a major in the U.S. Army. He served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and is the author of the book "Ghostriders of Baghdad," which is an analysis of the Iraq War.
Peacestock 2019 organizer Bill Habedank of Red Wing said the event begins at 9 a.m. He added that Wright will speak at 10:30 and Sjursen will speak at 3:30 p.m. Other presentations and music will provide attendees with a full day of entertainment and information.
Habedank said the non-partisan event started in 2002 with the goal of bringing in noted speakers from around the country, because "the War in Iraq was raging, and everyone was gungho about war," he said, "but we wanted an alternative voice about war."
Wright said she is "thrilled" to speak in Red Wing, and noted that "I really applaud all of the people that put together Peacestock, because it is good for all of us to make sure that we better understand all of the things that are happening."
If you go...
Where: Hobgoblin Music, 920 Highway 19 Blvd., Red Wing
When: 9 a.m. July 20, lasting all day
Cost: $30 in advance, $35 at the door. Seating is limited.
More information: www.peacestockvfp.org
Phone: 651-764-1866 or 651-968-9757