Friday, May 26, 2006

Open Letter to Members of Congress

On Memorial Day, we raise our flags; we want to show our patriotism. We have a holiday from work and we have BBQ's with our friends and families. For some, it is a day to save some money at the mall- 15% off- Memorial Day sale! When we celebrate those events, we ignore the origins of Memorial Day. Memorial Day is the day that we, as a country pay our respects and remember those soldiers who were killed or who died in service to America. For politicians it is a day to participate in civic activities and to visit cemeteries. Politicians articulate our sorrow as a nation.

I want to tell you about one soldier that will be remembered this Memorial Day. 1Lt Kenneth Michael Ballard of Mountain View, California was 26 years old when he was killed in a fierce battle in Najaf, Iraq on 5.30.04. His gravestone at Arlington National Cemetery is plain. That headstone in Section 60, Site 8006 tells when he was born and when he died. It describes his valor and heroism with his medals, his 3 Bronze Stars, 2 with valor and his Purple Heart.

But you need to know more than that about Ken. You need to know this because you sent my only child to his untimely death. You are keeping our members of the military in harm's way in Iraq and you have the power to bring them home and to stop this senseless killing.


Ken was my only child. He was the oldest of 15 grandchildren. I raised Ken on my own for 25 years and I loved him a lot. So did his aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents and his large circle of friends. He loved any kind of music as long as it was loud, Mexican food and driving his truck. He was so proud to serve his country as a 4th generation Army Officer. As a Platoon Leader and young Lieutenant, he loved his guys and they loved & respected him.

A mother wants to know her child is loved, but she doesn't want to find that out at his funeral when he is only 26 years old. And she surely doesn't want to watch his 26 year old friends bury their best friend. There is just something not right with that picture, but there is nothing right about this story.

A mother wants to watch her son grow to be the man he would have been. She wants to see him gaze into the eyes of the woman who will be his wife, and a mother wants to dance with her son at his wedding. She wants to hold his firstborn, counting the fingers and toes of this, her first grandchild. Would that baby have had the same cleft in their chin- just like their daddy? I'll never know because my baby came home in a box covered with a flag.

My son took an oath to defend the Constitution and to obey the orders of the President of the United States. In return, his Commander in Chief and this country owed him the TRUTH about the mission and why he and his men were going into harms way. They should never be sent into combat without suitable equipment or proper training.


They should never be sent to into war without proper planning and without an exit strategy. They should never be sent into hostilities unless it is our last option. In March of 2003, there were other options.

You sent my only child to his untimely death. You are keeping our members of the military in harm's way in Iraq and you have the power to bring them home and to stop this pointless killing.

When you visit that cemetery to participate in Memorial Day ceremonies and proclaim the words of a grateful nation, look beyond the names on the headstones. Know there is a loving, broken family left behind every single one. Think about Ken. Look at his face; look at his eyes. He is one of 2463 US soldiers to die in this illegal war so far. He was the 100th soldier from California to die in Iraq. Ken is not a number, he's not a statistic. Think about Ken and the life that was stolen from our family when you vote to continue funding this war. It is time to end the lies. It is time to put up a vigorous fight to come up with an exit strategy that will end this war now. Do that because it is the right thing to do. Do it for Ken and for me. No other family should have to travel this hellish journey.

Where will you be on Memorial Day? What will you do to really honor our soldiers? I will be at Arlington National Cemetery on this Memorial Day 2006.
It will have been two years since Ken was brutally killed.

Lt Ken Ballard 7.21.77 -5.30.04

p.s. Happy Birthday Patrick & Travis, Gold Star sons

3 comments:

sevenpointman said...

The plan I am sending you has been approved by many prominent thinkers and
activists in the field. Which includes: Benjamin Ferencz, Chief Prosecutor
at the Nuremburg Trials, Tom Hayden, Matthew Rothschild, Anthony Arnove, Danny Schecter,
Tony Benn- Former Member of the British parliament ,Reggie Rivers,
Robert Jenkins, Andrew Bard Schmookler and others.
I formulated this plan in September 2004, based on a comprehensive
study of the issues. For my plan to be successful it must be implemented
with all seven points beginning to happen within a very short period of
time.
I have run up against a wall of doubt about my plan due to it's
rational nature ,and due to it's adherence to placing the blame on the
invaders, and then trying to formulate a process of extrication which would
put all entities in this conflict face to face, to begin to finally solve
the dilemmas that exist.
If you read my plan you will see that it is guided by a reasonable
and practical compromise that could end this war and alleviate the
internecine civil violence that is confronting Iraq at this juncture in it's
history.
I am making a plea for my plan to be put into action on a wide-scale.
I need you to circulate it and use all the persuasion you have to bring it
to the attention of those in power.
Just reading my plan and sending off an e-mail to me that you received
it will not be enough.

This war must end-we who oppose it can do this by using my plan.
We must fight the power and end the killing.

If you would like to view some comments and criticism about my plan
I direct you to my blog: sevenpointman

Thank you my dear friend,




Howard Roberts



A Seven-point plan for an Exit Strategy in Iraq




1) A timetable for the complete withdrawal of American and British forces
must be announced.
I envision the following procedure, but suitable fine-tuning can be
applied by all the people involved.

A) A ceasefire should be offered by the Occupying side to
representatives of both the Sunni insurgency and the Shiite community. These
representatives would be guaranteed safe passage, to any meetings. The
individual insurgency groups would designate who would attend.
At this meeting a written document declaring a one-month ceasefire,
witnessed by a United Nations authority, will be fashioned and eventually
signed. This document will be released in full, to all Iraqi newspapers, the
foreign press, and the Internet.
B) US and British command will make public its withdrawal, within
sixth-months of 80 % of their troops.

C) Every month, a team of United Nations observers will verify the
effectiveness of the ceasefire.
All incidences on both sides will be reported.

D) Combined representative armed forces of both the Occupying
nations and the insurgency organizations that agreed to the cease fire will
protect the Iraqi people from actions by terrorist cells.

E) Combined representative armed forces from both the Occupying
nations and the insurgency organizations will begin creating a new military
and police force. Those who served, without extenuating circumstances, in
the previous Iraqi military or police, will be given the first option to
serve.

F) After the second month of the ceasefire, and thereafter, in
increments of 10-20% ,a total of 80% will be withdrawn, to enclaves in Qatar
and Bahrain. The governments of these countries will work out a temporary
land-lease housing arrangement for these troops. During the time the troops
will be in these countries they will not stand down, and can be re-activated
in the theater, if the chain of the command still in Iraq, the newly
formed Iraqi military, the leaders of the insurgency, and two international
ombudsman (one from the Arab League, one from the United Nations), as a
majority, deem it necessary.


G) One-half of those troops in enclaves will leave three-months after they
arrive, for the United States or other locations, not including Iraq.

H) The other half of the troops in enclaves will leave after
six-months.

I) The remaining 20 % of the Occupying troops will, during this six
month interval, be used as peace-keepers, and will work with all the
designated organizations, to aid in reconstruction and nation-building.


J) After four months they will be moved to enclaves in the above
mentioned countries.
They will remain, still active, for two month, until their return to
the States, Britain and the other involved nations.





2) At the beginning of this period the United States will file a letter with
the Secretary General of the Security Council of the United Nations, making
null and void all written and proscribed orders by the CPA, under R. Paul
Bremer. This will be announced and duly noted.



3) At the beginning of this period all contracts signed by foreign countries
will be considered in abeyance until a system of fair bidding, by both
Iraqi and foreign countries, will be implemented ,by an interim Productivity
and Investment Board, chosen from pertinent sectors of the Iraqi economy.
Local representatives of the 18 provinces of Iraq will put this board
together, in local elections.


4) At the beginning of this period, the United Nations will declare that
Iraq is a sovereign state again, and will be forming a Union of 18
autonomous regions. Each region will, with the help of international
experts, and local bureaucrats, do a census as a first step toward the
creation of a municipal government for all 18 provinces. After the census, a
voting roll will be completed. Any group that gets a list of 15% of the
names on this census will be able to nominate a slate of representatives.
When all the parties have chosen their slates, a period of one-month will be
allowed for campaigning.
Then in a popular election the group with the most votes will represent that
province.
When the voters choose a slate, they will also be asked to choose five
individual members of any of the slates.
The individuals who have the five highest vote counts will represent a
National government.
This whole process, in every province, will be watched by international
observers as well as the local bureaucrats.

During this process of local elections, a central governing board, made up
of United Nations, election governing experts, insurgency organizations, US
and British peacekeepers, and Arab league representatives, will assume the
temporary duties of administering Baghdad, and the central duties of
governing.

When the ninety representatives are elected they will assume the legislative
duties of Iraq for two years.

Within three months the parties that have at least 15% of the
representatives will nominate candidates for President and Prime Minister.

A national wide election for these offices will be held within three months
from their nomination.

The President and the Vice President and the Prime Minister will choose
their cabinet, after the election.


5) All debts accrued by Iraq will be rescheduled to begin payment, on the
principal after one year, and on the interest after two years. If Iraq is
able to handle another loan during this period she should be given a grace
period of two years, from the taking of the loan, to comply with any
structural adjustments.



6) The United States and the United Kingdom shall pay Iraq reparations for
its invasion in the total of 120 billion dollars over a period of twenty
years for damages to its infrastructure. This money can be defrayed as
investment, if the return does not exceed 6.5 %.


7) During the beginning period Saddam Hussein and any other prisoners who
are deemed by a Council of Iraqi Judges, elected by the National
representative body, as having committed crimes will be put up for trial.
The trial of Saddam Hussein will be before seven judges, chosen from this
Council of Judges.
One judge, one jury, again chosen by this Council, will try all other
prisoners.
All defendants will have the right to present any evidence they want, and to
choose freely their own lawyers.

Chancelucky said...

Karen,
thanks for the portrait of Ken, I just wish our leaders took the same oath as our servicemen, well actually they do, but don't seem to be bound by it.

btw, it looks like you double posted the material here. It's the same paragraphs twice.

GSMSO said...

Hey Chance-

Thanks for the eagle eye. That's what I get for posting while I am away from home. My duplication has been removed!