Traverse City Record-Eagle

November 10, 2013

Veteran works for peace despite loss of brother

BY NATHAN PAYNE
npayne@record-eagle.com

---- — TRAVERSE CITY — Veteran’s Day has a little different meaning to Pete Moller.

Moller, a Vietnam-era veteran, until April hadn’t set foot in the country where his brother, Glenn, was killed 45 years ago. Still, he didn’t harbor hatred toward the Vietnamese people, it wasn’t in his nature.

Instead, the forestry expert went on to lead a life where he clung to peace and strode to try to encourage peaceful interactions between people. It’s something from his upbringing that was reinforced when news came that his brother was killed while on patrol in a small village near the Cambodian border.

It was just thee weeks after he arrived in Vietnam.

“I have somewhat of a different outlook on military service than a lot of folks do,” Moller said. “We didn’t believe in the war and what we were doing there. But he just wanted to get on with it and get back to his life. Peace making had a high priority in our life.”

Both Moller and his younger brother were drafted in 1967, but Glenn went through training quicker and was soon after deployed, he said.

After his brother’s death, the former Peace Corps worker took an opportunity to be stationed in Texas, away from the war. His parents made pleas to family friends with connections in Washington, D.C., to help him avoid a war-zone deployment. Those pleas led to someone presenting Moller a few options, including heading to war.

“I knew that going to Vietnam wasn’t going to do me or my family any good,” he said. “Had I gone to Vietnam, it would have torn me apart and had I survived, I would have come back a wreck.”

Moller completed his service and went on to a successful career both overseas and at home working in forestry. He believed strongly in peace stopping wars, but never was particular active in his opposition until about two years ago when he moved to Travese City.

About that time Moller joined Veterans for Peace and began taking part in that group’s activities.

It is that participation that led Moller and his wife to be included on a 13-person mission that toured Vietnam, learned about the scars left on that country by the war and spoke with the people left behind.

At the end of the trip, Moller took a side trip to the small town along the Cambodian border where Glenn was killed. There were no monuments to his brother’s life or death, just a growing city.

The trip reminded that not everybody feels or understands the cost of war the way he does.

It is a cost that compels Moller each Veteran’s Day to help Veteran’s for Peace construct a memorial to the of hundreds of Michigan soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan during the past decade.

“We glorify war,” he said. “Our families mourn when they come home in a casket and when they come home alive we celebrate.”