SPC Activist Profile: Herm Bieling

From the July-August 2011 PNL #806

by Amelia Ramsey-LeFevre

Born in Syracuse, Herm Bieling has spent most of his life in the Emerald City. He retired in June after 39 years as a diesel mechanic in stone quarries. His grandfather refused to carry a gun in WWII and was forced to stand on the front lines with a fife. Herm is proud to continue this important legacy. Though previously active on SPC committees, today Herm is content to hold signs at Weekly Peace Outreach in addition to volunteer handiwork.

When did you become acquainted with SPC?
I was 14 or 15. My parents were members. I come from a long line of activists. My dad moved from being a union person to a business person because there was a lot of favoritism and racism in the union. Racism manifested itself such that the African Americans did the unskilled labor. My father was a craftsman and he taught his craft in his business. He taught his craft to African Americans.

Herm holds an SPC contingent sign at a
January 2007antiwar march in
Washington, D.C. Photo: Carol Baum

Tell me about your history in activism.
When I was a kid I took a trip to Texas on the bus and I went through St. Louis. St. Louis in the 60s was decidedly segregated. Racism at the time, even in Syracuse, was a pretty rampant thing. Then the war took precedence in my mind. But I was frustrated with how long the war was taking. Every time we went to Washington the government would do something to escalate it and that would be the headline. Our opposition to the war would be ignored.

Do you have kids and are they involved in the movement?

I have two boys. My dad took me by the hand and taught me how to think. I couldn’t see making somebody think like you do. Just live an example and hope they pick it up. Basically they have but they went the long way around. They both joined the Army. I was never able to reproach them for their decisions. When kids are coming up and making their decisions you have to give them space. But my older son has participated with me in several marches since he was in the war.

Any last comments?
The current peace movement has really got to step up and diversify into an organization that will do more to publicize the money reasons for the way things are. We have to help people understand that there is a class war going on and they don’t even know it. Our leadership is a farce. Democracy is ok if it’s under the CIA. I can’t see pushing democracy on people if it’s a lie.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      —Amelia Ramsey-Lefevre