Saturday, December 16, 2006

Ruth's Report

Ruth: Last weekend was the weekend to raise awareness on war resisters called by Courage to Resist. When Rebecca wrote about how Goldie and others were making T-shirts with illustrations of war resisters on them to wear over the weekend, my granddaughter Tracey printed up some from The Third Estate Sunday Review, came to me and asked if I had any idea how to make a T-shirt transfer? My only question was, "Do we want to tie-dye them as well?"

Treva and I used to make our own T-shirts for demonstrations and, after awhile, friends would ask us to make some for them as well and joked of starting our own T-shirt business which we never did and only regretted not doing in the mid-to-late seventies when every where we turned it seemed like somebody had John Travolta or one of Charlie's Angels on their chests.

So Tracey and I ended up making a very large batch of T-shirts. We used Fruit of the Loom because, back in college, Treva and I found they worked best. They were a little thicker and tended to absorb, and keep, the colors better.

Saturday was our day of action which was a big get together in my backyard of her friends from school, my grandson's Jayson's friends from school, the members of my Friday Iraq study group, various family members and a large number of neighbors. My sons handled the grill and we planned a cookout because my group has been discussing how the awareness is just not there. One of our oldest and wisest members shot down the idea of a march because he did not feel it would lead to much but confusion. Like the country, he sees that our neighborhood has shifted against the war and felt that a social setting would be the best way to raise awareness. So we made up stickers for everyone in the group and for Tracey and Jayson which said, "Ask me about ___" and each of us had an assigned task of knowing our area. Some covered known war resisters so a sticker might read: "Ask me about Ehren Watada." Some of us covered topics such as "stop loss." We all wore the T-shirts as well and I made a mistake in estimating how popular those would be.

Tracey and I had estimated that we'd have a little over a hundred people show up plus our family. We figured, especially after the first batches of T-shirts turned out so well, that probably ten percent would be interested in a T-shirt. To be on the safe side, we made thirty extras and stuck to extra-large for size because these days the "in" thing is loose and baggy. Those went very fast and we should have made more.

But it was a very productive get togther. All of us with stickers had agreed to move around the backyard from group to group so that people could ask questions about the topic or person our sticker said "Ask me about __." For those who were new to the topic of today's war resistance within the military, the main comment was that they had no idea there were so many public war resisters.

I strongly support marches and rallies and believe we will need many of them to end the war. When the idea of a march, a spontaneous, non-permitted one, through our neighborhood was brought up, I was all for that. But I do believe this was the better suggestion, as does everyone in my study group. Ehren Watada was clearly the war resister who most people knew if they knew of anyone. Hearing the stories of Jeremy Hinzman, Patrick Hart, Camilo Mejia and others was an eye opener for many. Kyle Snyder seemed to be the one people were most fascinated by because he was touring and speaking out despite the warrant for his arrest. This was before we had learned that he had to call in to an event last Saturday after the police showed up the day prior looking for him.

If we had a war resister as our "Ask me about ___" topic, we would open with the basic story because we didn't want people to feel they were getting a lecture. Then we'd answer any questions and, after the whys and how of their public stands, the questions would usually be of a personal nature. Were they married, did have they children, how old were they, how old were they when they signed up, and things of that sort.

Those questions really brought home the interest in the issue. Yesterday, I'm told ten additional neighbors showed up for our discussion group. We meet during the morning and if only one had shown up, I would have considered last weekend's activities a success.

My original intention was to 'report' on this Tuesday or Wendesday but then C.I. called Tuesday to pass on that Rebecca was pregnant and see if I would be willing to fill in at her site, or be a backup if someone else could not fill in, if Rebecca needed it?

Of course I would.

I put the report on hold because when Treva and I did our road trip earlier this year, Rebecca filled in at the last minute when the woman who was going to watch my grandson Elijah during the day was unable to. Rebecca was also there for me at the first of November when I had a nasty cold. So for the three weeks she is in right now which are a critical period due to her history, I am going to be focusing on her. Elijah and I are going out each Monday through Friday for that period. Flyboy, Rebecca's husband, has offered to hire someone to come and clean but Rebecca hated that when they had it before and said she is too tired to go room to room "hiding." So I am helping out and showing Flyboy some basics on cooking and cleaning -- just attempting to help in any way I can.

I know from e-mails that have come in since Rebecca mentioned this at her site that a lot of community members are concerned. For those who keep wondering if Rebecca is putting on a brave face or if she really believes this will be a successful pregnancy, she really does believe this will be the one. I do as well. I was prepared to put on my own brave face the first day I was driving over. This was after I had pestered my sons and my one daughter-in-law, who is also a doctor, with questions.

Rebecca is taking it very slow and, as she put it last night, "house-bound." She is further along now then she has been in any of the past pregnancies and her doctor told her that, by itself, was a strong indication that this would be different than the past pregnancies. Right now, the goal is to get through these three weeks rested and she is doing that. She has written about being tired and I believe that is mainly because she is used to going all day so to be "house-bound" has left her more than a little bored. That, along with the natural changes your body goes through, accounts for her feeling tired.

Elaine called this morning to say she had believed me about how Rebecca was doing but seeing it yesterday, Elaine and Mike are staying with Rebecca and Flyboy this weekend, reassured her. So I want to just stress that I can understand why members would worry, I do agree with Rebecca that worry is not going to help anyone.

For the report, I will still be focusing on Iraq. If I do not have a program to note, I will focus on a topic or, possibly, an article in a newspaper or magazine. Wednesday, I caught the last half of Bay Native Circle on KPFA. I did not have time to grab a pen and paper so I am not sure of the man's name but his nephew, Marine Corporal Brett Lundstrom, died in Iraq January 7, 2006. The uncle spoke of how the war was wrong and how, when he picks up his peace pipe, he prays that the administration will be put out of power. He sees Donald Rumsfeld, the soon to be former Secretary of Defense, departing as a first step and is praying that more will as well.

He has another nephew, Eddie, who is currently in Oklahoma having returned from Iraq. Eddie has PTSD and yet will be redeployed to Iraq shortly. The uncle spoke of how the military does not care about and probably prefers anger and rage. Eddie and the now deceased Brett were "my sister's only two sons." Last January, on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, there was a day in Brett's honor and this year it will fall on January 14th.

The uncle is asking other Native Americans to tell their children not to sign up with the military. He spoke of how Native Americans are still being harrassed by the federal government and specifically cited the fact that the 'solution' to the uranium issue is to attempt to store it on reservations. I would agree this is in keeping with the long pattern of abuse, harrassment and genocide of Native Americans.

Brett's uncle worries about his nephew Eddie and mourns the loss of his nephew Brett. He read a poem someone had written about Brett. He suffers, his sister, Doyla Carol Underbaggage Lundstrom, suffers and, across America, many other families are suffering and grieving.

To sell the war, Bully Boy frightened the American people with lies. Now fear and lies are used to continue it. 2007 may not be the year we end the war but it can be the year we try even harder.

The military's trying harder to continue the war. That includes the decision to court-martial
Ehren Watada in Feburary. As part of that effort, they are attempting to legally compel journalists Dahr Jamail and Sarah Olson to testify for the prosecution. Monday, on KPFA's The Morning Show, 7:00 a.m. PST, 9:00 a.m. Central and 10:00 a.m. EST, Mr. Jamail and Ms. Olson will be among the guests addressing this development.