She was a nurse who set up field hospitals and then worked beyond exhaustion in them. These hospitals were loaded with waves of wounded and dying from the war in Europe. Her hardest work came during the Battle of the Bulge. Through her life, she has always hated war with an unrelenting and growing intensity. And, with history in the marrow of her bones, she was there, and had been at many other vigils and marches during her subsequent full and rewarding, but haunted life.
He was a veteran infantryman with an incisive mind and steady purpose who had served recently in Iraq. He even had all his limbs. He carried uncompromising antipathy for neo-con policy architects whose failed policies and fabricated falsehoods have consigned his generation and subsequent generations, to pay, even with their lives, for this miserable and unwarranted war. And, as a warrior patriot, he was there, but this time he was not just following orders. He intended to protest, commit civil disobedience and be arrested.
He was a Gold Star Father, informed on his birthday of the death in Iraq of his son, who was once a Marine, and now, always a Marine. On that terrible day, the agonized father incinerated the vehicle that had conveyed those bringing the tragic news to him. And as a man who had lost more than one can bear, he was there, a witness to the outrage of this war to strangers, fellow citizens, with tears streaming down his lined and weathered face, and the livid third degree burns manifesting his agony and anger.
And there were youth. America’s children are now targeted with increasing aggressiveness by military recruiters making even more promises that won’t be kept. Recruiters are luring, with ever-increasing bonus dollars, those from the first American generation that are facing a less promising future than their parents had. The United States “all volunteer” military is simply becoming a mercenary army drawn almost exclusively from the poor and working class. And America’s youth were gloriously there, with impressive energy. There were more of them, strong, hopeful and inspiring, than all the rest of us. “The future is unwritten”, they were saying. “Which one we get is up to us.” They can’t wait. And the world can’t wait.
They were there to take part in a national march, rally and civil disobedience last weekend in the nation’s capital. The focus is to end the war on Iraq and bring our troops home now. Every day, more Americans are asking the hard, important questions.
The U.S. military fights resource wars around the world, and we couldn’t even get essential resources to our own people in the national hurricane emergency. Is it because those resources are acquired for and dedicated solely to corporate profits?
The world must learn to depend on renewable resources, the most important of which is love and caring. But our government acts as if love itself is a scarce commodity, with not enough to go around. Will we allow love, and everything else besides, to be hoarded by the “base” coveted by the Administration … “the haves and the have mores”?
The people of Iraq love their homes and families and faith and national self-determination as much as do the people of Louisiana and Mississippi … and Wisconsin. They and we have a perfect right to them. Neither the people nor the government of Iraq attacked America, nor did it pose any threat of doing so. Why then did America attack Iraq? Do Iraqis not have every right to defend themselves from invasion and occupation?
When government officials imprison persons, including citizens, incommunicado, without charges being filed, without recourse and without limit, as they have begun to do, how will human rights and America’s Bill of Rights stand?
When government officials engage in, and justify, and escape accountability for the use of torture, and when they defy international law and the Geneva Convention, by applying cute new definitions to people imprisoned in sweeps and fingered by hooded paid informants, how will human rights and America’s place in history recover?
History shows that modern “smart” warfare results in casualty ratios on the order of 100 non-combatants to every one soldier. When our government doesn’t even bother to count any casualties other than our own military personnel in a pre-emptive war that was undertaken for reasons that have been proven absolutely false, it is committing war crimes, crimes against humanity. How are we citizens to look in the eyes of each other and of that face in the mirror until our leaders are called to account?
When will we ever learn? If you weren’t there in D.C. in person, were you there in spirit? Thank God youth is awakened. They can’t wait and the world can’t wait! Regime change begins at home. Do your part. Bring Our Troops Home Now!
autumn equinox, 2005