Women Against War

PO Box 505, Delmar, New York 12054

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Grannies for Peace

Twenty Grannies for Peace vigil on Valentine's Day 2008 at the VA for better health care for vets


Save the date: Nov. 1, 2012: 6:00 – 9:30 pm: An invitation from Nancy Smith, creative inspiration, and coordinator of “Our Pieces of Peace
First Unitarian Universalist Society of Albany, Channing Hall, 405 Washington Avenue, Albany, N.Y. 12206

Grannies and their cosponsors plan this to be a relaxed evening of sharing artistic messages in varied forms regarding peace. (Poetry, song, drama, newspaper articles, quotes, commentary on diplomacy.) Learn more.

May 25, 2012: Grannies Mark Mother’s Day with Focus on Corporations That Profit from War

Grannies for Peace

Grannies for Peace May 7th, 2011 March and Vigil in Albany

On a sunny Saturday morning,
In Albany’s tulip-crowned Washington Park,
Amid the strolling families,
Noisy youth,
Art, and food, and craft booths,
25 grandmothers marched for peace.

Dressed in funeral black, walking single file behind a black draped ‘coffin,’ we marched silently to the cadence of a slow-rolling drum. We marched because it was Mothers Day weekend and we wanted to send out the message about the original purpose of Mothers Day. We wanted people to understand that Mothers Day was founded in 1870 after the Civil War with a two-fold purpose. Yes, it was a way to honor our mothers. However, it was also a way to declare that mothers everywhere should never again suffer the anguish of seeing their children die, or be injured, through war.

We marched because we mourn with the mothers of Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Libya, Gaza and the US who have lost their children to warfare and military occupation. We marched in silence to express our grief for the actions of our government that continue these wars. We marched. And then we stood in silence around that black coffin, to let people know that these wars break our hearts, and as grandmothers and mothers we cry out for negotiations to end all of these conflicts now. We marched and we stood as witnesses for peace. And the people in Washington Park – some agitated, many more supportive – took notice. It was truly something to behold.

From Dahlia Herring, Co-coordinator of the event

Click here for a photo gallery from the event.

Grannies for Peace Valentine's Day 2011 demonstration

Grannies for Peace demonstrationGrannies for Peace demonstrationGrannies for Peace had a splendid, very colorful Valentines event on Sunday, serenading shoppers with peace songs at Colonie Center – we were not asked to leave which is a good omen for future demonstrations in this new “public square”! See Mabel Leon’s beautiful photos below of our Colonie Center experience and our demonstration afterwards against the Afghan War on Central Avenue. We got lots of positive responses from shoppers and cars driving by!

We reached an even larger audience with good coverage on Channel’s10’s late PM news and 2 great photos, of Anita Paul and of Dot Richards, with a short story A Call for Peace in the Times Union. Dot did a post-event interview with The Spotlight, with which Mabel shared her photos, too, so look for coverage in this week’s issue. Barb Cooley and Dot Richards did a great job coordinating the event!

Grannies for Peace demonstrationGrannies for Peace demonstration

See more photos from the event.

Read more about the Grannies for Peace October 2010 Demonstration Against War in Afghanistan

Information the 2010 Valentine's Day Event: Press Release | Report from Event

Read the Troy Record article about the 2008 vigil


Read about Grannies past Mother's Day events


Brief History of Grannies for Peace & its National Antecedents

Grannies for Peace is a local Capital District Organization that began as an off- shoot of Women Against War with our first Grannies Action at the local Albany military recruiting office, in Colonie Center, on February 14, 2006. Some of us are actual grannies, and some of us are just women of a certain age who could be grannies and care about creating a more peaceful world for our young people.

Our first Capital District action was based on the work of the New York City organization, Granny Peace Brigades. Granny Peace Brigades came into being on October 17, 2005 when a group of women ranging in age from 59 to 91 (many of whom were grandmothers) tried to enlist in the US military to replace their grandchildren who had been unnecessarily deployed in Iraq. They were not allowed to enter the military recruitment office and were arrested but then acquitted during a 6-day trial. After the trial they began the work for peace that continues today.

Our local group conducted a similar action on Valentine’s Day of 2006 and were also denied access to the recruiting office but were allowed to leave Colonie Center and hold a very successful press conference out in the parking lot. Heart shaped signs and unplanned, irreverent songs of peace and joy were a part of the demonstration. The inclusion of singing came from the work of The Raging Grannies who delighted in writing antiwar songs to familiar tunes.

The next Grannies for Peace activity took the form of a visit to the offices of our Senators, Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton on January 18, 2007. Our local visits were part of the national campaign, 100 Grannies to visit 100 Senators, organized nationally by the Granny Peace Brigade, which visited Washington, DC senatorial offices to lobby the new 110th Congress for an end to the Iraq War. The 13 demands included a repeal of the Military Commissions Act, and the Patriot Act, funds for true reconstruction in Iraq and the closing of Guantanamo. Five Grannies visited Senator Schumer’s office and Homeland Security got a little nervous when 14 Grannies met with Senator Clinton’s aide in her office.

The second Albany Valentine’s event (postponed a week due to a large snowstorm) focused on the need for more peace and not more troops. It was called “Reverse the Surge: Grannies Recruit for Peace” The gathering featured many photos of grandchildren and children who are dearly loved by the grannies. The goal of the event was to talk with recruiters and enlistees about the need to recruit for peacemaking and not war making. There was more organized music making, with song sheets and a song leader.

Although the work of Grannies for Peace started out strongly inspired by the creativity of other Granny groups, it has continued to evolve and to take on a character of its own. After the creation of a very vivid and visible Grannies for Peace banner by Kim Kennedy, one of our members, we were ready to begin a series of silent “stand in the park for peace” vigils based on the story contained in the book The Great Silent Grandmother Gathering, written by Sharon Mehdi. Our first such vigil took place in the midst of the Albany Tulip Festival on May 12, 2007. There were leaflets explaining why we were standing in the Park but otherwise we stood silently for an hour. Many passersby joined us and took signs to wear during the vigil.

This was so satisfying that we held another silent vigil across from the June 23rd celebration of the Capital District refugee community. This was also an hour of silence followed by a closing circle and a song of peace. Our leaflet described actions that passersby could take to prevent war with Iran.

So what’s so satisfying about being a Granny for Peace? There’s something about being a woman of a certain age, working in concert with other Grannies. Some people consider us wise women with years of experience and respect our point of view. Others are fooled into thinking that we’re harmless and “insignificant” so that we can be heard long enough to deliver our messages of peace and justice. We have enough self-knowledge to understand our gifts and limitations, which allows us to appreciate and respect each other and to work well together. It’s wonderful to learn from others and to have a chance to laugh, exercise creativity and express our shared love for the children that will inherit the world that we leave them.


Well I jumped up right out of my seat.
Got my banners and peace signs out.
Then I hurried down to the street,
And started to yell and shout!

[From Joan Wile's song, "Grannies Let's Unite"]

Here's a link to a book written and published in 2008 by Joan Wile, the 76 year old founder of Grandmother's Against the War and a member of the Granny Peace Brigade. This delightful and inspiring book tells the stories of several grandmothers who raised their voices and put their bodies on the line for peace during the time from 2003 to the present. Grandmothers Against the War, Getting off our fannies and standing up for peace is dedicated to her five grandchildren.

To find out more about the book click here.