Advocating for World Peace at the Beach, one Sunday at a time
For the past twelve years, Susan Brodhead has been visiting the Santa Monica Beach on Sundays. She arrives early in the morning to help set-up signs, chairs and tables. She places publications, small painted beach rocks, volunteer sign-up sheets and donation jars on the tables. When the set-up is complete, she takes a seat overlooking a massive display of white and red crosses on the sand covering a large area, beneath the famous Santa Monica boardwalk. Each cross on display represents a fallen soldier.
“As a mom, these are all our kids,” she says in a soft voice as she stands in front of the crosses. “And our kids are getting killed or destroyed emotionally for the rest of their lives. It’s beyond me.”
Brodhead volunteers for Veterans For Peace, a nonprofit organization whose primary mission is to build a culture of peace, expose the true costs of war, and heal the wounds of war.
Established in the mid 80’s, Veterans For Peace is now an internationally recognized organization and the Los Angeles chapter is uniquely active at the Santa Monica Beach. Volunteers arrive as early as 4:30am every Sunday to reserve the spacious area that is used for the elaborate cross display. They measure out the rows so the exhibit looks like a replica of the Arlington Cemetery in Virginia. They have the approval from the City of Santa Monica to store their display and equipment underneath the pier every week. They’ve been coordinating the display for 13 years and Broadhead has been an active volunteer for twelve of those years.
“People are suffering. Lots of people are suffering and we just go about our business. But the parents, brothers, sisters, wives, babies…everybody is affected by this,” she says.
Brodhead has two children but neither of them enlisted in the U.S. Military. Still, she felt compelled to join Veterans for Peace because she says U.S. soldiers join the military with a goodness of heart but many never return. By joining the organization, Brodhead was able to find a voice, she says. She frequently comforts mothers who have lost children in combat and invites them to advocate for world peace. It’s her contribution to society and she’s proud to give up her Sundays, even if it means offering a single hug to a grieving parent. She has also researched the costs and economic implications of war and is happy to engage in peaceful discussions with people who support military strikes and involvement overseas.
“It’s my voice. Everybody has a voice. It feels so good to be honest,” she adds.
While Brodhead supports the U.S. Military, she feels international issues should be handled with utmost diplomacy to avoid situations where additional lives may be lost. Her solution: “Moms need to get involved. Moms have a different voice on this. It’s our kids.”
Vetaran For Peace | Los Angeles Chapter