Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The fallen and the end of DADT

From yesterday's snapshot:

Sunday, a US soldier died in Iraq. The Dept of Defense hasn't identified the fallen as I dictate this but KRGV and Valley Central's Action 4 News both report it is Estevan Altamirano (citing his family) of Edcough, Texas who was a 1999 graduate of Edcouch-Elsa High School, the father of five and his survivors include his wife. According to the Washington Post's Faces of the Fallen data base, 414 other service members from Texas have died in the Iraq War (there are eight pages with 51 on each page, when you click on page eight, there is no ninth page but there is "next" which contains 6 additional service members -- 8 x 51= 408 + 6= 414 and the search criteria was "Iraq" for theater and "Texas" for state/territory.) Many of the fallen of the current wars come from rural areas and small towns. The 2010 census found the population for Edcouch to be 3,161 and 97.8 Hispanic It's in the southern county of Hildalgo .

Gail Burkhardt (Monitor via Brownsville Herald) reports Sgt Estevan Altamirano had spent 11 years in the military and was on his third deployment to Iraq. His survivors include his parents, a sister (Loreda Altamirano), "his wife, Pamela Altamirano, in addition to two stepdaughters. He also has two sons, who live in Kansas".

Meanwhile Kevin Douglas Grant (Global Post) reports on Iraq War veteran Lt Dan Choi:

But his time in Iraq began to turn Choi’s mind against the American war effort there. Corruption and mismanagement of the rebuilding process was rampant, and as a member of the Commanders Emergency Response Team (CERP), Choi himself had the authority to vet and authorize contracts with almost no oversight. He often paid cash.
“Every week I would fly from Green Zone to the ‘Triangle of Death’ area and then pass out money,” Choi explained, his ready smile on display. “I’d have a million dollars in hundred-dollar bills in my backpack. I was like, ‘Wow, I have more than my life is worth.’”
By May, two major forces in Choi’s life were waging war on his psyche. On one hand, he had a military career he was fully dedicated to. On the other hand, he had met the love of his life but most of his inner circle still didn’t know he was gay. So he started telling them.
“That was probably the hardest time,” Choi said. “Being in the military with a boyfriend that I wanted to marry. I thought, ‘How am I going to be able to keep being in the military this way?”

Dan Choi joined the fight for equality and became a public face for the movement and what may have still been, for some people, an abstract notion. The courage he demonstrated and the courage of others in the movement is why Don't Ask, Don't Tell has been overturned. Sadly, no law insisting on equality has replaced Don't Ask, Don't Tell. (Which is why the Ninth Circuit decision was needed despite the administration's efforts to overturn it.) Tony Lombardo (Marine Corps News) reports:

The “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy banning gays from serving openly will be stripped from the military’s rulebook on Tuesday. The occasion could pass quietly. President Obama and the Defense Department have no plans for press conferences or major addresses, and DoD stopped enforcing it in July.
But for gay Marines, official repeal will be a historic day, comparable to the moment 63 years ago when President Truman ordered the services to end racial segregation.

NPR's Rachel Martin reports on the end of Don't Ask, Don't Tell on Morning Edition today.

Community sites -- plus Antiwar.com and On The Wilder Side -- updated last night and this morning:

That's all that's showing up on the permalinks. All below (except Third) updated last night or this morning:

We'll close with this from World Can't Wait's "For Ten Years the Richest Country in the World Has Been 'At War' With the Poorest Country in the World:"

Several thousand people have signed up to be at Freedom Square in Washington DC on Thursday October 6. This day was chosen because it's the precise 10 year anniversary of Bush's invasion of Afghanistan and the launching of the whole "Global War on Terror" which has resulted in over a million deaths in Iraq, untold thousands of deaths in Afghanistan and Pakistan, millions displaced from their homes, and institutionalized torture. We will never be at peace with being at war and pledge to the world these crimes will be stopped.

October 6 is a "work" day, and a day we can expect maximum coverage of the war. Join World Can't Wait there! On the October2011.org website:

"I pledge that if any U.S. troops, contractors, or mercenaries remain in Afghanistan on Thursday, October 6, 2011, as that occupation goes into its 11th year, I will commit to being in Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C., with others on that day or the days immediately following, for as long as I can, with the intention of making it our Tahrir Square, Cairo, our Madison, Wisconsin, where we will NONVIOLENTLY resist the corporate machine by occupying Freedom Plaza to demand that America's resources be invested in human needs and environmental protection instead of war and exploitation. We can do this together. We will be the beginning."

The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.