In December, I was fortunate to be at the Bloomington-Normal Citizens for Peace and Justice meeting. Four members of Iraq Veterans Against the War spoke about their military experiences.
The common thread was their feelings of being disillusioned with what they believed the military in our country should stand for.
There are IVAW members in 33 chapters in 42 states, Washington, D.C., Canada and overseas. Their mission states: "We are committed to saving lives and ending the violence in Iraq and call for immediate withdrawal of all occupying forces.''
This Iraq war is like none other.
The suicide rate among veterans has increased. The desertion rate in the military has increased by 20 percent.
Apparently, we are the United States of Amnesia. When will we learn from the past?
Soon we will celebrate Martin Luther King Day. In talking about the struggle for civil rights, not war, Martin Luther King once said that "violence was not just immoral but also impractical. Violence ends by defeating itself. It creates bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers.''
BNCPJ will hold its monthly demonstration against the war at the Bloomington Post Office on Towanda Avenue from 5 to 5:30 p.m. Jan. 19.
Father Dan Berrigan, a Jesuit priest, has stated, "We are not allowed to kill innocent people. We are not allowed to be complicit in murder. We are not allowed to be silent while preparations for mass murder proceed in our name, with our money. .... We are back where we started. Thou shalt not kill; we are not allowed to kill.''
BNCPJ's next meeting is at 4 p.m. Feb. 3 at the Unitarian church. The film "Winter Soldier'' will be viewed and discussed. All are welcome.
Try something new for the new year; attend a demonstration or a meeting.
Rosemarie Moews Scarbeary
The above, noted by Lewis, is from the Bloomington Pantagraph's "Letters to the Editor." Winter Soldier is Vietnam veterans testifying to what they saw serving in Vietnam. It is available on DVD via Vietnam Veterans Against the War. Shortly, a similar event will take place. IVAW is organizing a March 2008 DC event:
In 1971, over one hundred members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War gathered in Detroit to share their stories with America. Atrocities like the My Lai massacre had ignited popular opposition to the war, but political and military leaders insisted that such crimes were isolated exceptions. The members of VVAW knew differently.
Over three days in January, these soldiers testified on the systematic brutality they had seen visited upon the people of Vietnam. They called it the Winter Soldier investigation, after Thomas Paine's famous admonishing of the "summer soldier" who shirks his duty during difficult times. In a time of war and lies, the veterans who gathered in Detroit knew it was their duty to tell the truth.
Over thirty years later, we find ourselves faced with a new war. But the lies are the same. Once again, American troops are sinking into increasingly bloody occupations. Once again, war crimes in places like Haditha, Fallujah, and Abu Ghraib have turned the public against the war. Once again, politicians and generals are blaming "a few bad apples" instead of examining the military policies that have destroyed Iraq and Afghanistan.
Once again, our country needs Winter Soldiers.
In March of 2008, Iraq Veterans Against the War will gather in our nation's capital to break the silence and hold our leaders accountable for these wars. We hope you'll join us, because yours is a story that every American needs to hear.
Click here to sign a statement of support for Winter Soldier: Iraq & Afghanistan
March 13th through 16th are the dates for the Winter Soldier Iraq & Afghanistan Investigation.
People with real concerns can attend. Those playing 'resume builder' by farming themselves out as free labor to political candidates (while insisting they're 'doing something') will, no doubt, stay away.
Meanwhile, if you were wounded while serving in Iraq, you might be thrilled that you received on the ground medical attention. Later on, reality might beg to differ with that assessment. From The Daily Mail's "Mother condemns 'appalling' treatment of blood blunder soldier:"
The mother of a British serviceman who may have received contaminated blood from the US military attacked her son's "appalling" treatment today.
Steve Shine, 23, is reported to be one of 24 British soldiers and military contractors undergoing HIV and hepatitis tests following revelations that the Americans failed to screen the donors who gave them emergency transfusions.
He was given the tainted transfusion after losing his left leg when his tank was blown up in Basra, southern Iraq, a national newspaper.
His mother, Frances Shine, 46, told the paper her son had received no offers of counselling from the Army or Ministry of Defence since being told of the blunder.
And read "British civilians may also have received HIV-contaminated blood in Iraq or Afghanistan" along with it.
Today a photo exhibit of the work of artist and journalist David Bacon opens at the Galeria de la Raza (2857 24th St, San Francisco 94110): "Living under the trees" "Viviendo bajo los arboles." The exhibit is from January 11th through February 23rd (Enero 11 - Febrero 23, 2008). "An exhibition documenting communities of indigenous Mexican farm workers in California through photographs and the narrative experiences of community residents and leaders" y
"Una exposicion que documenta a traves de fotografias y testmonios de lideres y residentes las comundades indigenas de campesinos mexicanos." Inauguracion de exposicion (Opening Reception) Enero 11 7:30 p.m. (January 11th). Y mesa redonda de fotografos (photographers' panel) Sabado, Enero 26, 2:00 p.m. (photographers' panel, Saturday, January 26).
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iraq veterans against the war