The Friendship Office was saddened to learn of the passing of Charlie Liteky in January 2017. Charlie was a dear friend who marked our lives, the lives of many around the world and showed us what it means to be a peacemaker.
In the summer of 1986, following a vote in the U.S. Congress to approve $100 to escalate the U.S. backed contra war against Nicaragua, a large group gathered in a living room in Washington D.C. to discern what to do. In the group that night were four U.S. veterans: Charlie Liteky, George Mizo, Duncan Murphy and Brian Wilson. That night, they decided to begin an open ended, water-only Fast for Life on the steps of the U.S. Capitol in the tradition of active non-violence, as an act of conscience, as a spiritual practice. They called on the U.S. Congress to Stop the Killing, Stop the Wars – and to make Peace.
In a Press Release to announce the Veterans Fast for Life, they said:
We are veterans of war. We have decided to embark upon the most important mission of our lives–a fast for life. Having put our bodies on the line in the waging of war, for issues we did not fully or even minimally understand, we now choose to put our bodies on the line here in this country to wage peace for issues we possess a clear understanding of.
As in Vietnam I, this Vietnam II means the death and maiming of thousands of people. We invoke The Nuremberg Charter and the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal, legal authorities, designed to prevent any future complicity of a populace with crimes against humanity, crimes against peace, and war crimes committed by their government.
Every day the four Vets sat on steps of the capitol taking only water. People gathered, held vigils, delegations came to accompany them and helped to get their message out. Soon, people across the country were organizing rotating fasts, protests, educating, advocating and working to stop U.S. support for the war against Nicaragua.
Several weeks into the fast, the men were all strong but their systems were slowing down and they were turning deeply inward. They announced that they would return their Medals of Honors, laying them at the foot of the Viet Nam Memorial protest of American foreign policy in Central America.
Charlie Liteky also renounced the lifetime tax-free monthly pension that went with his Medal of Honor. Charlie served two federal prison terms for civil disobedience as a war protester, a protector of life and a maker of peace.
Charlie Liteky – Presente!