His “Blood on the Tracks,” S. Brian Wilson’s Incredible Story

S. Brian Wilson is far, far outside of the political spectrum. He is highly opinionated and passionate, and during a book talk at Revolution Books in Hollywood, he told his life story to a respectfully silent packed room. It was both haunting and riveting. During the Vietnam war he spoke passionately against the atrocities he witnessed – including the wholesale carpet bombing of villages consisting primarily of women and children, and the drug trafficking being conducted by prominent military officials – memories that still haunt him to this day. He adamantly spoke out against all of it, even then, only to be literally laughed at by his superiors. When Brian came back to the states he worked to help rehabilitate other veterans who also had trouble dealing with what they had seen and was awarded a special commendation by the governor of Massachusetts, but dealing with the aftermath became too much for him and so he decided to try and expose the source of the problems. Thus began his long road to becoming one of America’s most prominent militant pacifists, as he calls himself. He has had an illustrious career carrying out many demonstrations, but of them all there was one in particular that changed his life.

During a peaceful demonstration in 1987, Brian’s legs were cut off by a military train. In his own words:

In 1987, while peacefully blocking a military train at a U.S. Navy munitions base in California loaded with armaments headed for Central America, I received severe injuries and was almost murdered when the train chose not to stop. The Navy train crew and their superiors knew in advance of our nonviolent three-member veterans’ blockade and had a clear, 650-foot view as the train approached us at high noon on a bright sunny day. Though expecting to be arrested and jailed by the nearby armed U.S. Marines and local police, we never imagined the conscious and criminal acceleration of the loaded train to more than three times its posted five-mile-an-hour legal speed limit. I lost both legs, suffered a fractured skull, multiple other injuries, and nearly lost my life as I was run over by the speeding train. One of the other veterans dove out of the way at the last minute. The other veteran jumped high in the air to grab onto the cow catcher railing on the front of the locomotive just above the platform where the two government spotters stood. A military ambulance and crew quickly arrived on the scene but refused to transport me to a hospital, alleging that my limp, maimed body was not lying on military property. In the meantime, my wife, who was a midwife, and other friends at the scene, worked feverishly to stop my bleeding and to preserve my life energy while we awaited arrival of another ambulance 15 or 20 minutes later.

Even this experience didn’t stop Brian, he has spoken at many schools across America, and worked with several activist groups. Regardless of your own political affiliations, there is something to be said about a man who would stand in the path of an oncoming train and stare it down. Brian’s courage and dedication reverberated throughout the room, and when asked what advice he would give to young people he said they should learn to farm, "The soil is the most revolutionary place to be in life. We are nature, we've merely forgotten, but nature still remembers."

A young man in college asked what advice he could give to his friends thinking of going into the military, Brain said, "Do you know that you’re going to be killing people? People just like you? That you might be killed yourself, and that the whole experience is so toxic that you might not fully recover. You might see their faces for the rest of your life every night when you sleep. You're going to be asked to take lives, and there may very well be children in the crossfire. Are you prepared for that?”

Brian’s book, Blood on the Tracks, tells his inspiring story, and highlights the climate of one of the most tumultuous times in American history – a time that Brain insists we must never forget.

For more information as to Brian’s whereabouts please see his official website.