Aaron Bushnell, ¡Presente!

A eulogy delivered at the vigil for Aaron Bushnell, on the night of March 8th, at the end of the Venice Pier, over the Pacific Ocean, in Los Angeles, California

I do not know how to express the reverence, and the gratitude, and the sense of loss we all feel about Aaron Bushnell.

All I can say is, “Aaron, our brother, we thank you, we bless you, we grieve you, and we will honor you, by our actions. We will carry on your struggle.”

Aaron Bushnell held the rank of Senior Airman in the US Air Force.

In the years 1961 and ’62, in college, I wore the uniform of that same Air Force.I was a member of its Reserve Officer Training Corps.

My dream was to learn the skills of a navigator, on war planes.

My plan was to earn a commission in the Air Force, and then sit behind the pilots of large aircraft, telling them how they should steer the plane, until we were over our targets.

Maybe I would be the navigator of a B-52 bomber, dropping enormous bombs on the people of Viet Nam, from the safety of the sky, causing untold death and injury, with no pangs of conscience.

That was 1962. Aaron Bushnell, in 2024, knew he was serving in an Air Force that was supplying bombs and rockets to the ruthless, vicious,

Israeli pilots, and navigators, who are slaughtering the people of Gaza, with no mercy, and not the slightest sign of remorse.

Because he knew that he was serving a radical evil, Aaron liberated himself from that unholy force, by an act of divine violence.

At the end of my first year in the Air Force Training Corps, I was court-martialed for insubordination. I had not mastered the essential skill of taking orders from higher officers I didn’t respect. My career as a bomber-navigator was aborted.

Five years later, like Aaron, I had a crisis of conscience. I joined with hundreds of other young men in openly defying the machinery of military conscription, which would have turned us into ground troops, into murderers, in Viet Nam.

As draft resisters, we might have given up two or three years of our lives, in prison.

But our criminal government decided it was wiser, politically, not to make martyrs of young men of conscience.

But I do believe we had some small impact on the course of that shameful war.

Aaron Bushnell, on the other hand, gave up, not just two or three years, but all of the rest of his life.

In defiance of his criminal government, Aaron martyred himself.

And Aaron has already had a powerful impact on the course of this war, this monstrous genocide against the people of Gaza.

In Latin America, the people would say, “Aaron Bushnell, ¡Presente!”

He is here. He is present, now, among us.

Let us all to say it together, to affirm our commitment to honor him, in action:

Aaron Bushnell — ¡Presente!

Aaron Bushnell — ¡Presente!

Aaron Bushnell— ¡Presente!