The United States is entering the fifth year of its violent, failed occupation of Iraq, a war that has lasted longer than the U.S. was involved in World War II. Through the grimly deepening quagmire, a strengthening, pervasive U.S. antiwar movement is emerging. An increasingly powerful voice comes from soldiers and their families, turning grief into action. Take the Arredondo family.
On Aug. 25, 2004--Carlos Arredondo’s 44th birthday--a U.S. Marine van arrived outside his house. He thought that his son Alex had managed to come home from his second deployment to Iraq to surprise him. Instead, the Marines informed him that Alex had been killed in action in Najaf.
Carlos lost his mind. He asked, he begged, the Marines to leave. He pleaded. They didn't leave, so he ran to his garage and grabbed a hammer, gasoline and a blowtorch. He began pummeling the van. He climbed in, pouring the gasoline. His mother, distraught and wailing, tried to pull him from the van. The blowtorch accidentally sparked, and Carlos was blown from the van into the yard, in flames.
Then his wife, Melida, arrived. She saw her husband burning. Carlos' younger son, Brian, 16 years old, in Bangor, Maine, later saw the incident on television. This was the day he learned that the brother he loved and emulated was dead.
Carlos suffered burns on more than one-quarter of his body. The physical healing was the easy part. It is the emotional healing that he pursues in his tireless and remarkable odyssey to end the war. To honor Alex's memory, he has been crisscrossing the country, from Capitol Hill to Crawford, Texas, pulling a flag-draped coffin. He calls it his public mourning: "I want the caskets coming home to be very public. The government doesn’t want you to see them."
The above, noted by Kayla is from Amy Goodman's "Exploding Into Action" (Truthdig). That was over two and a half years ago and many families and friends have had to hear the same news, had to watch their lives shatter. And Congress can't figure out what it wants to do and presidential candidates (announced) seem lost about how to stand up (Dennis Kucinich is the exception). They've had four years, the world's had four years of this illegal war. So where's the leadership?
They can hide behind generals (like the Bully Boy) but where's the civilian leadership because that's what's the US is based on? A lot of people (Obama, Clinton . . .) can go stand before AIPAC and pledge their undying love to Israel (which is really sad since they're running to become president of the United States and not Homecoming Queen of Israel) but they don't have real plans on Iraq. Hillary stated that if she became president, troops would still be in Iraq. She cited the oil (of course) and Israel (again, is she trying to be president -- this goes for Obama as well and anyone else that's courting lobbyists for foreign countries -- or the Israeli Homecoming Queen?). Where is the leadership?
While they play craven and offer what they hope are 'inspiring' moments (that just come off as sop tossed to pigs), the war drags on.
They're just there to try and make the people free,
But the way that they're doing it, it don't seem like that to me.
Just more blood-letting and misery and tears
That this poor country's known for the last twenty years,
And the war drags on.
-- words and lyrics by Mick Softly (available on Donovan's Fairytale)
Last Thursday, AP's number for the US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war was 3188. 6 deaths were announced today but the AP seems to think if they refeed that piece of crap (covering Wednesday) by Lauren Frayer that no one will notice. Tonight, Reuters notes that the count is now over 3200. Yeah, that could have been noted this morning. (They also only got around -- an hour ago -- to noting that four US service members died today.) Yeah, we noted that this morning. 3205 was AFP's count before the four deaths today were announced.
ICCC's count is 3207.
This weekend, actions will be taking place across the US to mark the fourth anniversary of the illegal war (March 19th). Kyle notes Ann Wright's "Why I Will March to Support the Troops and End the War" (Truthout) about one action:
I am returning to Fayetteville, North Carolina, on March 17 for the first time in over twenty years. I spent three years on active duty at [nearby] Fort Bragg as an instructor at the Special Warfare Center and as executive officer of the 96th Civil Affairs Battalion, Special Operations Command. During my time at Fort Bragg, I deployed to Grenada on the 18th Airborne Corps international law team and was a member of the US Army claims commission in Grenada. I stayed for four months, helping to re-establish governmental functions and assisting with economic development programs.
I ended up being in the US Army and Army Reserves for 29 years and retired as a Colonel. I then joined the US diplomatic corps and served in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia, Mongolia and Afghanistan. I was on the first State Department team to reopen the US Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan in December 2001 after the CIA and US military pushed the Taliban out of Kabul and had al-Qaeda heading for the Tora Bora mountains.
Ironically, after serving in eight presidential administrations, either in the US military or in the US diplomatic corps, I am returning to Fayetteville to participate in a rally and march to end the war on Iraq.
Why would a 29-year retired US Army colonel be marching to end the war? Well, in March 2003, four years ago, as the war in Iraq began, I resigned from the US diplomatic corps in opposition to the war. I was one of three US government employees who resigned. That's why I am marching to end the war - I gave up my career over the war.
That's one action, there are many others. We did a roundtable for the gina & krista round-robin tonight and Elaine, Ava, Jess, Dona, Jim, Mike, Gina and Krista are currently noting every local event that members e-mailed in on so check your inbox for the round-robin tomorrow. What we're going to do here is note organizations. After which, there will be a personal story (just for the AlterPunk). Denise notes Sunsara Taylor's "The Democrats and Iran" (CounterPunch):
You could close your eyes and pretend it isn't happening.
Pretend that the new Democratic Congress -- after four years of torture, mass murder and war crimes against the people of Iraq -- didn't just promise the War-Criminal-In-Chief that they would do nothing to stop a new and even more dangerous war against Iran.
Pretend that these same Democrats -- who have sold you out so many times and at the cost of so many lives -- didn't just promise to give the president more money than he even asked for to fight his current wars!
Pretend that somehow history -- and the people of the Middle East -- will forgive you for meeting this news with passivity, silence or at best "protest as usual."
Or you could open your eyes and confront the nightmares engulfing millions of people in the Middle East and endangering people around the world that only people living in this country can bring to a halt.
You can get on a bus, hop on a train, purchase an airline ticket, or pile into a van and get your butt to Washington DC on March 17t to march across the bridge and encircle the Pentagon, on March 17th before the eyes of the world!
Forty years ago, a generation who refused to accept an unjust and murderous war on Vietnam descended on the Pentagon. They looked out at the villages being razed, the children burning alive by napalm, and the blood that would be on their hands if they didn't bring this to a halt and they declared it was time to go "from protest to resistance."
Now, at a time when the Bush regime, with the silence and complicity of the Democrats, are escalating their assault on Iraq and aggressively preparing a new war against Iran, it is wrong not to be at the Pentagon.
Taylor is with World Can't Wait and here's their heads up on the march:
March 17: March on the Pentagon. Stop the Iraq War Now! No Iran War! Impeach Bush for War Crimes!
4 years have passed since the start of this unjust war; 655,000 Iraqis lay dead, and Bush’s escalation, now in effect, is widening the horror. The Bush regime is poised to launch an attack on Iran, which could well inflame the entire Middle East with devastating global consequences. What we do now can make all the difference. Go all out over the next days to get everyone you know to Washington, DC March 17.
Get bus tickets from NYC to DC March 20: Student Walkouts
Sunsara Taylor: Dems Lay Down for Bush's Next War: The People Must Go "From Protest to Resistance"
Cindy Sheehan: Why You Should March on the Pentagon
11 Arrested at Congressional Hearing on War Funding
With more on the march on the Penatagon, we'll note this from A.N.S.W.E.R.:
Major Alert: Pentagon March will step off at 12:30 p.m.There will be a rally at the Pentagon!
Cindy Sheehan at Tuesday's press conference for the March on the PentagonClick here for audio from the press conference
There will not be a rally at the assembly area, as we want to hit the streets and march to the Pentagon. There will be a rally at the Pentagon. It is important that everyone make the effort to get to the assembly location at 23rd and Constitution early. Try to get to the site by noon - don't miss the march! If you are coming by bus or driving from out of town, make sure your group is leaving early enough to get you to the assembly site no later than noon.
At the assembly site, between 8 a.m. and 12:30, there will be a pre-march People's Assembly in the park at 23rd and Constitution. Contingents and organizations will be providing information displays and literature tables. [Read more]
We'll note this from United for Peace & Justice about events across the country:
4 Years Far Too Many -- 1,000 Actions for PEACE!
You can help make sure that the 4th anniversary of the illegal, immoral invasion and occupation of Iraq, and the terrible toll it has taken around the world, is marked visibly and vocally in every town, on every street corner in the country. More than 1,000 actions have already been planned, and more are being organized every day.
Find 4th anniversary events in your area.
Add your 4th anniversary event to our online calendar.
SIGN OUR PETITION TO CONGRESS!Click here to download and print the petition to collect signatures.
Read More »
Veteran for Peace is taking part in the march on the Pentagon and planning local actions as well:
4th Anniversary of the War - IT'S TIME WE RAISE OUR VOICES!
This weekend marks the 5th year of the war and occupation of Iraq. In four years, we have had over 3200 members of our military personnel killed, over 23000 wounded, and tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of Iraqis have died. The United States has spent over $407,688,000,000 on this war, and the President is asking for another $93 Billion. However, the work that members of Veterans For Peace has done has been priceless in the struggle for peace. Because of the countless rallies, congressional campaigns, and educational outreach that our chapters have done, we have educated people about the cost of war. But our work is not complete! This weekend, we have to march again. We march for peace, justice, and an end to this occupation. Whether you choose to join VFP in Fayetteville, NC, go march on the Pentagon in Washington D.C., or you decided to join your local efforts at home - IT'S TIME WE RAISE OUR VOICES!
Read Colonel Ann Wright's essay: Why I march to support the troops and end the war.
Not In Our Name is also taking part in the march on the Pentagon:
March on the Pentagon 3/17
Not in Our Name organizers from California, Wisconsin, Ohio, South Carolina and New York will be joining the March 17th March on the Pentagon. We call on you to join us in DC at this critical juncture. Working together, we can stop the war.
So those are some of the organizations, there are events around the country. Some members will have house parties. The war's not going to end by "Wishin' and Hopin'." We're in Texas this week and one of things I've been dealing with long distance is a one-time friend's crisis. We were very close during the 90s and, in fact, up until this illegal war was about to start. To build her business, she decided to promote the war. This was a complete turn for her. We've pretty much avoided one another since then. I'll note she works within the court system and that's all I'll say on that. She does know this is being noted, by the way.
So she's spent the last four years cheerleading an illegal war to make a little money, to get business tossed her way. And actions do have consequences. Her young, adult son, decided this week, because Mommy's so good with words, that he needed to enlist. At which point she went into extreme panic attack and was so at a loss she decided to phone me for help.
I won't drag this out, he's not joining. I spoke to him, some friends who had served in Iraq agreed to speak to him. He now gets that Mommy is a hypocrite. Which she is and which he's told her and I've told her. She was happy to make a buck by promoting the illegal war as long as it was other people's children that were having to serve. When her own child bought into her never ending hype, it wasn't so pretty then. It wasn't so rah-rah. It was cry over the phone begging for help. Where does it stand for her now? She can't, she says, come out against the war because of business relationships but she's going to cool her jets in terms of publicly supporting it. She's going to be silent and that's supposed to do the world a favor.
Again, she knows I'm writing about this and there's nothing in this that she hasn't already heard (either this week or in the few times we've spoken since the illegal war started). When everything was settled (her son wasn't enlisting), she called to say thank you and to say I probably think everyone who pushes the war should face what she did. On some level maybe? Maybe the scare. The moment when suddenly the war is no longer abstract but personal. But in terms of anyone enlisting (no matter how their parents have sold their souls)? No. We don't need more troops over there, we need for the troops to come home.
Though she's not going to publicly speak against the war (remember, it's all about the bucks and contacts), she is going to be attending an anti-war event with her son this weekend. Maybe it will reach her? Maybe it will move to her to speak out? She was once a very aware person, a very pro-peace person. But at some point, in the legal circles she travels, success became supporting the Bully Boy and she was happy to sign up for extra dollars (none of which were needed -- not only was no one starving, no wish for her family went ungranted, no matter how costly). She made a calculated decision and the costs to other people's childrens didn't matter. This week, she the war came home to her in a way she never expected.
This community is solidly against the war but we do get visitors and writing about this was actually her suggestion (or fear, I'm not sure which) so we'll toss this story out there and if any of the right-wingers who love to visit read it, maybe they'll put themselves in her shoes. The ones who feel the need to write daily haven't been effected by anything else, maybe this will reach them? Maybe not.
But the point of the actions this weekend, all the actions, is to demonstrate that the war is personal, that the war is taking a toll on this country. She'll be at one demonstration this weekend. A hypocrite will be attending. If a hypocrite can attend, I don't think anyone has an excuse (if there's an event in their area or if they're able to travel to an event) for not making their voice heard.
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and the war drags on
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