Tuesday, January 23, 2007
As a member of Military Families Speak Out, we say Bring the Troops Home Now and take care of them when they get here. It's simple. The president sent the military to fight a war (make no mistake the country is at war- we aren't, but the military is). The president sent them without the proper equipment, without proper training, without a clear mission and without a plan for the peace. There is no exit plan either, but that discussion is for another time.
When the military is sent in service to this country, we owe them for the rest of their lives. We owe them for healthcare; mental and physical. We owe them for lost job opportunities by giving them educational and vocational training. We owe them a hell of a lot more than they get now.
When these cretins in the White House say they support the troops; they are still lying because they don't. They don't even know what "support the troops means". They don't care that much of the military is on their 2nd, 3rd or fourth deployment. They don't care how many have been extended because they, the administration, didn't make any plans to manage this war and they never had enough soldiers there at any time during these past 4 years anyway. They don't care what being at war means to the families and they sure as hell don't care about the families of the fallen- that would be families like mine.
When I read an article like this, it really makes me crazy because Bush gets up and talks about sacrifice and then they pull a stunt like this- cutting programs that take care of the severely injured. Yes, there is another program called the Army Wounded Warrior program, or AW2 in army jargon. Why lay off the Military Severely Injured Center employees? Why not transition them into AW2? And what about the other services who surely have severely injured Marines, Seaman and Airmen (sorry, ladies, you, too!), where do they go?
Sources say case workers for wounded laid off
Defense Department officials have laid off most of their case workers who help severely injured service members, sources said.
The case workers for the Military Severely Injured Center serve as advocates for wounded service members who have questions or issues related to benefits, financial resources and their successful return to duty or reintegration into civilian life Â all forms of support other than medical care.
The center officially opened in February 2005, with its primary offices in Arlington, Va., but also hired advocates at hospitals around the country.
Four sources said the decision was made to cut back the personnel because officials with the ArmyÂs Wounded Warrior program felt the Defense Department program was a duplication of efforts.
Defense officials did not comment on the actions as of Jan. 19. Wounded Warrior officials also could not be reached.
Reports indicate that Fort Hood, Texas; Fort Lewis, Wash.; and Fort Campbell, Ky., were among the locations that had case workers cut. It is not clear what will happen to case workers at the Arlington center.
The only case workers that have not been laid off are at three hospitals: Brooke Army Medical Center, Texas; Tripler Army Medical Center, Hawaii; and Naval Medical Center San Diego, sources said. But those case workers will not be allowed to work with soldiers and must refer them to the Army Wounded Warrior program.
The laid-off workers were told Wednesday to finish up their case work with severely injured troops, and that Friday would be their last day.
ÂIÂm just livid about this,Â said Janice Buckley, Washington state chapter president for Operation Homefront. She was notified that the two case workers at Fort Lewis were given short notice that their jobs were ending, but she has no further information.
ÂThey did a fabulous job for these families,Â Buckley said. ÂThe kind of work they do for these families who are hanging by a thread ... no other organization helped service members and their families like they did.Â
The MSIC case workers provided the wounded service members with contacts and referrals to other organizations and agencies, ranging from the Department of Veterans Affairs to the Social Security Administration, depending on their individual needs. Operation Homefront often helps with the familiesÂ emergency financial needs.
Sunday, January 21, 2007
I like the men and women of Veterans for Peace. One of my VFP friends once told me "If you aren't fighting for peace, what are you fighting for?
SAY NO TO ESCALATION OF IRAQ WAR
Out of fear comes the most grievous and hurtful mistakes. We should have listened to Sen. Robert Byrd, D-West Virginia, October 2002 when he urged his fellows to adjourn their debate on funding the Iraq War to take a prayerful visit to the 58,000 names on the Vietnam War Memorial Wall. Those 58,000 names on solemn black marble speak to those who can quiet themselves to listen, lives ended by another unjust tragic war. The Senate did not hear them on that day. Neither did we Those in Congress, our intelligence and military communities, concerned about the lack of any real evidence of an Iraq 9/11 connection or of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), those knowledgeable of Iraq history who warned that invading Iraq would likely result in years of bloody Shiite/Sunni civil war, their voices were drowned out by the pulse-quickening, stirring emotions of post 9/11 fear and anger. "Shock and Awe" makes better television sound bites than the quieter virtues of thoughtful praying for guidance. Fear sells, war fever sells, they always have. The oldest political trick in the book., played just before mid-term elections.
We attacked, a shameful un-American, immoral strike-first war of choice. We became a mob. Now, over 3,000 of us are dead, 23,000 wounded, many horribly, horribly so. Iraqi dead totals are unknown, at least a 100,000, maybe 600,000. $450 billion wasted, our future mortgaged. Our national moral fiber damaged, we torture, we just don't call it that. We hold detainees in secret prisons, with no hope of a fair hearing. We scorn international opinion. Now our President asks us to escalate, compound this terrible national mistake?
Where is the remorse that generally befalls those have been part of a mob action? Did it speak in our recent elections? Did remorse speak through Colin Powell, now proclaiming against the war, who initially warned Mr. Bush that "you break it, you own it" but then, like a loyal soldier supported his Commander in Chief? Did remorse speak through the voluntary re-assignments of Generals Casey, Dempsey and Abizaid rather than continue to oversee this Iraq tragedy? this escalation? Dick Cheney spoke of his remorse over shooting his friend in a hunting accident, where is his remorse over the mountains of corpses his neo-conservative aggressive policies have created? Mr. Bush says he is moved by the deaths of those who might be alive except for the war he wanted so badly. Is he really? Mr. Bush avoided combat in Vietnam, so did Mr. Cheney, Mr. Rumsfeld, Mr. Rove. Would they be so quick to send others to kill and be killed if they had served? Doesn't genuine remorse imply a genuine desire to try to right the harm we have done? If Mr. Bush is remorseful, as he says he is, why is still so blatantly misleading us, claiming it is al-Qaida terrorists rather than civil war that grips Iraq?
Mr. Bush's address to the nation of 10 January is more of the same. More of the same deliberately misleading, posturing and dangerous rhetoric. Deliberately misleading because Mr. Bush never misses an opportunity to imply that we are fighting the 9/11 terrorists and al-Qaida in Iraq. Again, there was not one Iraqi among the 9/11 hijackers. There are very few al-Qaida terrorists in Iraq, there were none at all until we destabilized the region. The inconvenient fact, and facts are often inconvenient for Mr. Bush , is that it is simply, absolutely, verifiably not "the 9/11 terrorists" we are fighting in Iraq. It is a Shiite/Sunni civil war, precipitated, as were the ethnic cleansings in Sarajevo and Kosovo, by the break-up of central authority, the Soviet Union in the case of Yugoslavia, the removal of Saddam in Iraq. This Shiite/Sunni civil war was predicted by Mr. Baker, Mr. Hamilton, lately of the Iraq Study Group but earlier advisers to the elder Bush in 1991, they warned him that going on to Baghdad would likely result in such uncontrollable civil carnage. The elder Bush listened, "The Decider" did not. Mr. Bush still doesn't, perhaps cannot listen.
Mr. Bush's rhetoric is dangerous for U.S. troops, continuing to soak up lead in a futile attempt to keep the Shiites, Sunnis apart. The Pentagon Joint Chiefs of Staff, finally standing up to this reckless President, advised against escalation as the Iraq War is already destroying our military. We brought on this Iraqi civil war, our continuing presence, most Iraqis feel, only fans the flames. Iraq Prime Minister al-Maliki asked us not to send more troops, Polls show the Iraqi people want us out, many consider attacks on our troops justified Perhaps we should listen to them, it is their land, not ours. Is it not?
I spoke on the Ohio Statehouse lawn this past summer at "Eyes Wide Open" an exhibit sponsored by the American Friends Service Committee (Quakers). This very powerful exhibit includes an empty pair of combat boots for every U.S. military death in Iraq. There were 2,497 then, they filled the lawn. It took a host of volunteers a whole morning to place them. I helped make sure photos, letters, stuffed bears, flowers personalized for many of the dead soldiers were attached to the correct boot. I looked into many of the faces of our dead, placed letters from their families where they were intended. I spoke of my time as an officer with the U.S. Army 256th Combat Support Hospital and 2291st U.S. Army Hospital. I remember being embarrassed at being saluted. We did medical physicals on many local reserve units, I remember their young faces, the hopes and dreams they told me of, joining the reserves as a means to better themselves, learn a trade, get money for college. Many of them from less than privileged backgrounds, they were trying to make the American dream come true for them, "working their way up" in the time honored way.
I am sick at heart that we are killing these young men and women so that our President can save face, avoid admitting he made an awful and incompetent mistake, a mistake so awful that it is tough to look at square on. How many more lives will it take so that Mr. Bush can posture himself as not having lost in Iraq, a fight we should never have started in the first place.? How many more lives, ours and theirs, so that Mr. Bush can claim that it is the Democrats fault, not his, that we were not "victorious"? Victory defined as us arrogantly determining how a foreign land shall conduct its affairs. I understand the Quaker Norman Morrison, who set himself afire at the Pentagon November1965, in sympathy with the Vietnamese Buddhists who had similarly protested the brutal and repressive South Vietnamese regime and the war. Remembering the blood Father Berrigan poured on draft files in 1968, I think of the blood that is figuratively dripping from every "Bush-Cheney O4" bumper sticker, that is dripping from every Republican who told us that they had a special arrangement with God himself, that to oppose them and their war policies was to be without faith or values.
We can bring meaning to the deaths of so many. We can ensure that our dead, and theirs, are the last victims of 11 September 2001. It is obvious that our current White House administration is out of control, delusional, mumbling to paintings in the halls as Nixon did in his last days, unable to stop the war. We must thus stop it for them, as our Constitution promises we can. I urge you to write, call you congressmen and Senators, ask them to cut off the funds for this unjustifiable war, ask for troop withdrawal and a pledge of no permanent bases in Iraq. Ask that we talk to Iran, rather than rattling the saber at them, that we not launch a strike-first war in thatland. Ask that we decry military adventurism and thus stop seeing the entire world as" either with us or against us" ,or as an "axis of evil" The nation that lives by the sword, shall be destroyed by the sword. Write letters to the editor. Live peace. Speak the truth to your children. Pray for our land.
Member, Veterans for Peace, Southern Ohio Chapter
Saturday, January 13, 2007
The conservatives are having a field day distorting these words and accusing Boxer of attacking Rice because she was childless. White House spokesmodel, Tony Snow said that Boxer had made a "giant leap backward for feminism". (what does he know about feminsim?).
The New York Post called the comments a LOW BLOW. They said Breathtaking. Simply breathtaking. We scarcely know where to begin. The junior senator from California apparently believes that an accomplished, seasoned diplomat, a renowned scholar and an adviser to two presidents like Condoleezza Rice is not fully qualified to make policy at the highest levels of the American government because she is a single, childless woman. (Really. I'm not making this up!)
Boxer, defending herself against critics from the right, said Friday that she was "speaking truth to power" at a Senate hearing Thursday when she confronted the secretary of state -- who is unmarried and childless -- noting that neither she nor Rice will "pay a price" personally for sending more American troops to war.
Of course Senator Barbara Boxer spoke the truth in the hearings with Condoleezza Rice regarding the war in
When we met with the Senator at her office in DC in May 2006, 2 Blue Star Moms and me, a Gold Star Mom, she made it perfectly clear that she understands the sacrifice of the “American military and their families''. 2 short weeks after that meeting, we knew she understood our sacrifice when she introduced legislation in the Senate- To spur a political solution in
It is sad that this administration and many others have to twist the Senator’s words to find their brand of truth. How sad that they disregard her words about sacrifice which allows them to avoid dealing with our own. If they were offended, perhaps they should try to understand why. Were they offended because 3017
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
If you don't know how to find contact information; here ya go. http://www.congress.org/congressorg/home/ Enter your zipcode and you are almost done!
On Wednesday evening, President Bush will be discussing his plans for a new strategy for victory in Iraq. He will announce that he will increase the troop level by 20,000 in Iraq, most likely in the Baghdad area. The problem is, these aren't new troops, these are troops that will be extended, stop-lossed, deployed for the 2nd, 3rd or 4th time. You cannot expect them to fight in open combat with no clear mission and no hope. This is abuse of the military and the troops, plain and simple.
If you don't believe me, check out this group who boasts Newt Gingrich, Lynn Cheney and Richard Perle on their staff of scholars. I don't want to give these guys anymore publicity than they already have, but these guys are scary, as in PNAC scary. Choosing Victory: A Plan for Success in Iraq I don't know if I should throw up or throw myself off a bridge. Their plan? The only "surge" option that makes sense is both long and large.
Crank up the computer, we have no time to waste. Let your legislators know that they might not have run their election on this war, but they won on this war. It is time for action and time to stand up to this president. It is time to end the war and time bring the troops home NOW!
Here is my letter- I even included a photo of Ken in case they think we'll let them forget the faces of our children who were killed in Bush's war.
DE-FUND THE WAR
I am writing to you about George Bush’s plans for a new strategy in Iraq that will be announced this week. This so called “surge” is just another buzzword in this administration’s arsenal of rhetoric to convince the public the war in Iraq is winnable. If there was every a chance for victory, and I don’t think there was, we have long passed that day. Call it what it is and address it head on. This “surge” is an escalation of the war and will only result in more deaths of Americans and Iraqis.
I am counting on you to listen to the message that was sent to Washington last November, end the U.S. military occupation of Iraq. There is one way for Congress to make this happen: vote against further appropriations that allow the war in Iraq to continue -- de-fund the war.
3014 dead US troops, including my only child, Lt Ken Ballard who was killed in Najaf, May 30, 2004 is 3014 too many- any number more than zero was too many for this war based on lies. You can prevent one more family from answering the knock on the door only to have their heart ripped open and to trade their loved one for a folded flag.
You cannot simultaneously oppose and fund this war. There are ample funds already appropriated to bring our troops home quickly and safely, with the armor, protective equipment, supplies, vehicles, ammunition, food and water they will need during redeployment. Where you put the money will determine the real answer to the question- do you support the war or do you support the troops?
Every day you neglect to end this war you are also condemning 3 US troops to death. My son and the 3000+ other troops whose lives were sacrificed by George Bush will be best honored by a nation and a Congress with the courage to end this war.
I urge you to have the same courage that my son and his fellow troops exhibited when their Commander in Chief gave orders to invade Iraq. You must have the courage to stand up to that same Commander in Chief and say NO escalation, NO more troops, NO more funding for this hideous war.
Proud Gold Star Mom of Lt Ken Ballard- KIA 5.30.04
Friday, January 05, 2007
In her first remarks as Speaker, she made some firm commitments to make change in the way Congress does business. She made commitments to change the the direction of our country and to work in the spirit of partnership, not partisanship
The election of 2006 was a call to change, not merely to change the control of Congress, but for a new direction for our country. Nowhere were the American people more clear about the need for a new direction than in the war in Iraq.
The American people rejected an open-ended obligation to a war without end. Shortly, President Bush will address the nation on the subject of Iraq. It is the responsibility of the president to articulate a new plan for Iraq that makes it clear to the Iraqis that they must defend their own streets and their own security, a plan that promotes stability in the region and a plan that allows us to responsibly redeploy our troops.
Let us work together to be the Congress that rebuilds our military to meet the national security challenges of the 21st century.
Let us be the Congress that strongly honors our responsibility to protect our the American people from terrorism.
Let us be the Congress that never forgets our commitment to our veterans and our first responders, always honoring them as the heroes that they are.
Her words are simple and clear. They are a powerful and by them, we know that she not only heard what the voters said to Washington in November, but she listened.
We will find out soon enough if she really listened. Be very sure that we will remind her of these words if they were just a soundbite on her first day on the job.
We are listening.
Thursday, January 04, 2007
Will the legislators we've elected use the same logic and analytical skills that this newman does? Will they be able to stand up for the peace that we asked them for, no, demanded from them in the November election.
This should be mandatory listening for ALL of Washington as the 110th Congress takes shape. They must remember why we sent them to DC. They must remember who they work for. WE THE PEOPLE!
Olbermann: Special comment about 'sacrifice'
BBC reports Bush will reveal troop surge plan in sacrifice-themed speech
By Keith Olbermann
If in your presence an individual tried to sacrifice an American serviceman or woman, would you intervene?
Would you at least protest?
What if he had already sacrificed 3,003 of them?
What if he had already sacrificed 3,003 of them — and was then to announce his intention to sacrifice hundreds, maybe thousands, more?
This is where we stand tonight with the BBC report of President Bush’s “new Iraq strategy,” and his impending speech to the nation, which, according to a quoted senior American official, will be about troop increases and “sacrifice.”
The president has delayed, dawdled and deferred for the month since the release of the Iraq Study Group.
He has seemingly heard out everybody, and listened to none of them.
If the BBC is right — and we can only pray it is not — he has settled on the only solution all the true experts agree cannot possibly work: more American personnel in Iraq, not as trainers for Iraqi troops, but as part of some flabby plan for “sacrifice.”
More American servicemen and women will have their lives risked.
More American servicemen and women will have their lives ended.
More American families will have to bear the unbearable and rationalize the unforgivable —“sacrifice” — sacrifice now, sacrifice tomorrow, sacrifice forever.
And more Americans — more even than the two-thirds who already believe we need fewer troops in Iraq, not more — will have to conclude the president does not have any idea what he’s doing — and that other Americans will have to die for that reason.
It must now be branded as propaganda — for even the president cannot truly feel that very many people still believe him to be competent in this area, let alone “the decider.”
But from our impeccable reporter at the Pentagon, Jim Miklaszewski, tonight comes confirmation of something called “surge and accelerate” — as many as 20,000 additional troops —f or “political purposes” ...
This, in line with what we had previously heard, that this will be proclaimed a short-term measure, for the stated purpose of increasing security in and around Baghdad, and giving an Iraqi government a chance to establish some kind of order.
This is palpable nonsense, Mr. Bush.
If this is your intention — if the centerpiece of your announcement next week will be “sacrifice” — sacrifice your intention, not more American lives!
As Sen. Joseph Biden has pointed out, the new troops might improve the ratio our forces face relative to those living in Baghdad (friend and foe), from 200 to 1, to just 100 to 1.
A drop in the bucket.
The additional men and women you have sentenced to go there, sir, will serve only as targets.
They will not be there “short-term,” Mr. Bush; for many it will mean a year or more in death’s shadow.
This is not temporary, Mr. Bush.
For the Americans who will die because of you, it will be as permanent as it gets.
The various rationales for what Mr. Bush will reportedly re-christen “sacrifice” constitute a very thin gruel, indeed.
The former labor secretary, Robert Reich, says Sen. John McCain told him that the “surge” would help the “morale” of the troops already in Iraq.
If Mr. McCain truly said that, and truly believes it, he has either forgotten completely his own experience in Vietnam ... or he is unaware of the recent Military Times poll indicating only 38 percent of our active military want to see more troops sent ... or Mr. McCain has departed from reality.
Then there is the argument that to take any steps toward reducing troop numbers would show weakness to the enemy in Iraq, or to the terrorists around the world.
This simplistic logic ignores the inescapable fact that we have indeed already showed weakness to the enemy, and to the terrorists.
We have shown them that we will let our own people be killed for no good reason.
We have now shown them that we will continue to do so.
We have shown them our stupidity.
Mr. Bush, your judgment about Iraq — and now about “sacrifice” — is at variance with your people’s, to the point of delusion.
Your most respected generals see no value in a “surge” — they could not possibly see it in this madness of “sacrifice.”
The Iraq Study Group told you it would be a mistake.
Perhaps dozens more have told you it would be a mistake.
And you threw their wisdom back, until you finally heard what you wanted to hear, like some child drawing straws and then saying “best two out of three … best three out of five … hundredth one counts.”
Your citizens, the people for whom you work, have told you they do not want this, and moreover, they do not want you to do this.
Yet once again, sir, you have ignored all of us.
Mr. Bush, you do not own this country!
To those Republicans who have not broken free from the slavery of partisanship — those bonded still, to this president and this administration, and now bonded to this “sacrifice” —proceed at your own peril.
John McCain may still hear the applause of small crowds — he has somehow inured himself to the hypocrisy, and the tragedy, of a man who considers himself the ultimate realist, courting the votes of those who support the government telling visitors to the Grand Canyon that it was caused by the Great Flood.
That Mr. McCain is selling himself off to the irrational right, parcel by parcel, like some great landowner facing bankruptcy, seems to be obvious to everybody but himself.
Or, maybe it is obvious to him and he simply no longer cares.
But to the rest of you in the Republican Party:
We need you to speak up, right now, in defense of your country’s most precious assets — the lives of its citizens who are in harm’s way.
If you do not, you are not serving this nation’s interests — nor your own.
November should have told you this.
The opening of the new Congress on Wednesday and Thursday should tell you this.
Next time, those missing Republicans will be you.
And to the Democrats now yoked to the helm of this sinking ship, you proceed at your own peril, as well.
President Bush may not be very good at reality, but he and Mr. Cheney and Mr. Rove are still gifted at letting American troops be killed, and then turning their deaths to their own political advantage.
The equation is simple. This country does not want more troops in Iraq.
It wants fewer.
Go and make it happen, or go and look for other work.
Yet you Democrats must assume that even if you take the most obvious of courses, and cut off funding for the war, Mr. Bush will ignore you as long as possible, or will find the money elsewhere, or will spend the money meant to protect the troops, and re-purpose it to keep as many troops there as long as he can keep them there.
Because that’s what this is all about, is it not, Mr. Bush?
That is what this “sacrifice” has been for.
To continue this senseless, endless war.
You have dressed it up in the clothing, first of a hunt for weapons of mass destruction, then of liberation ... then of regional imperative ... then of oil prices ... and now in these new terms of “sacrifice” — it’s like a damned game of Colorforms, isn’t it, sir?
This senseless, endless war.
But — it has not been senseless in two ways.
It has succeeded, Mr. Bush, in enabling you to deaden the collective mind of this country to the pointlessness of endless war, against the wrong people, in the wrong place, at the wrong time.
It has gotten many of us used to the idea — the virtual “white noise” — of conflict far away, of the deaths of young Americans, of vague “sacrifice” for some fluid cause, too complicated to be interpreted except in terms of the very important-sounding but ultimately meaningless phrase “the war on terror.”
And the war’s second accomplishment — your second accomplishment, sir — is to have taken money out of the pockets of every American, even out of the pockets of the dead soldiers on the battlefield, and their families, and to have given that money to the war profiteers.
Because if you sell the Army a thousand Humvees, you can’t sell them any more until the first thousand have been destroyed.
The service men and women are ancillary to the equation.
This is about the planned obsolescence of ordnance, isn’t, Mr. Bush? And the building of detention centers? And the design of a $125 million courtroom complex at Gitmo, complete with restaurants.
At least the war profiteers have made their money, sir.
And we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain.
You have insisted, Mr. Bush, that we must not lose in Iraq, that if we don’t fight them there we will fight them here — as if the corollary were somehow true, that if by fighting them there we will not have to fight them here.
And yet you have re-made our country, and not re-made it for the better, on the premise that we need to be ready to “fight them here,” anyway, and always.
In point of fact even if the civil war in Iraq somehow ended tomorrow, and the risk to Americans there ended with it, we would have already suffered a defeat — not fatal, not world-changing, not, but for the lives lost, of enduring consequence.
But this country has already lost in Iraq, sir.
Your policy in Iraq has already had its crushing impact on our safety here.
You have already fomented new terrorism and new terrorists.
You have already stoked paranoia.
You have already pitted Americans, one against the other.
We ... will have to live with it.
We ... will have to live with what — of the fabric of our nation — you have already “sacrificed.”
The only object still admissible in this debate is the quickest and safest exit for our people there.
But you — and soon, Mr. Bush, it will be you and you alone — still insist otherwise.
And our sons and daughters and fathers and mothers will be sacrificed there tonight, sir, so that you can say you did not “lose in Iraq.”
Our policy in Iraq has been criticized for being indescribable, for being inscrutable, for being ineffable.
But it is all too easily understood now.
First we sent Americans to their deaths for your lie, Mr. Bush.
Now we are sending them to their deaths for your ego.
If what is reported is true — if your decision is made and the “sacrifice” is ordered — take a page instead from the man at whose funeral you so eloquently spoke this morning — Gerald Ford:
Put pragmatism and the healing of a nation ahead of some kind of misguided vision.
Sacrifice, Mr. Bush?
No, sir, this is not “sacrifice.” This has now become “human sacrifice.”
And it must stop.
And you can stop it.
Next week, make us all look wrong.
Our meaningless sacrifice in Iraq must stop.
And you must stop it.
© 2006 MSNBC Interactive
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
Under a full moon and clear, mild weather, 100 members of our local Peace Community attended our candlelight vigil in Mountain View, CA starting at 6 p.m. Gold Star Families Speak Out, Mountain View Voices for Peace, Los Altos Voices for Peace, Sunnyvale Voices for Peace, Peninsula Peace & Justice, and The Raging Grannies were all represented well. We displayed the MVVP dog tag display and a wall with all 3000 names listed.
I welcomed the group and thanked them for spending this New Years night with us. I spoke briefly about my son, Lt Ken Ballard who was killed in Iraq 5.30.04. I introduced other Gold Star family members; 2 of my son's aunts, Cathy Patton & Michel Meredith, the aunt and uncle of Wes Canning (KIA 11.10.04) and Dolores Kesterson, mother of Erik Kesterson (KIA 11.15.03).
I explained to the group that there were 3000 lit Christmas lights at our event representing the 3000 soldiers. 300 lights were wrapped around a flagpole representing the 305 California soldiers. I told the group that we would turn off the California lights once we completed reading their names.
The Gold Star families and one member of the community read the California names; some people in the group were crying. It was difficult for me hearing the names that have become so familiar to me. Sgt Patrick McCaffrey, Cpl Jonathan Castro, Sgt Even Ashcraft, HM3 John House, Spc Omead Razani, Sgt Mike Mitchell, Spc Joseph Norquist.....it's all so sad.
The group was very quiet when we turned off the 300 lights representing the California dead. I reminded the group that California has borne 10% of the US military deaths in Iraq; how long would it take to read ALL 3000 names? We had a moment of silence and then turned off all of the lights to represent ALL of the deaths in Iraq, including the Iraqi civilians and the contractors.
Afterwards, the crowd caught up with neighbors and friends. Many people stood on the sidewalk holding signs attracting driver's attention; horns honking in support. One of Ken's soccer coaches from middle school came up and introduced himself to me. I remembered him, Colin's father; I think he was surprised. A brother of one of Ken's schoolmates also introduced himself. This community of Ken's remembers him, we will not let him be forgotten.
One military death doesn't mean one family, it affects so many. How can our president not understand this; I don't think he wants to.
Special thanks to the local Bay Area media, who has been supportive all along. ABC, KNTV & KTVU included our vigil as part of the lead story of the night. And more thanks to everyone who helped make this another successful event to remember our troops. And one more thanks to AFSC who took the lead in sponsoring this event
For more photos, please visit: http://tian.greens.org/MountainView/MVVP/3000Dead/index.html (thanks, Tian!)
Monday, January 01, 2007
3000 is a relative number. Depending on what you do for a living, 3000 may be a small number or it may be large. Some people tell me that 3000 military deaths in Iraq is a small number, or a comma, as our president refers to them as. Compared to WWII and Viet Nam, 3000 is nothing. That's not what you ever want to say to a Gold Star Mom. Any number more than zero is too many for this war.
What are the real numbers that so far define the legacy of the 43rd US President?
3002 US military dead because of Bush's lies
22032 US wounded
377 Contractors (all countries)
127 Coalition deaths (other countries)
2801 World Trade Center deaths on 9/11
357 US Military dead in Afghanistan
16273 Iraqi civilians
There is a number that is too large for the American public. 3000 isn't it. There is a number that is acceptable for monthly casualties. I think that number is about 75. The media doesn't even talk about a number until it starts approaching 100. December 2006 had the highest number of casualties in nearly 2 years, but the media was more interested in Saddam's execution, the upcoming Bowl games, and anything but the US casualties in Iraq.
The Pentagon chimed in saying: "Every loss is regretted and there is no special significance to the overall number of casualties." "The President believes that every life is precious and grieves for each one that is lost," said White House spokesman Scott Stanzel. "He will ensure their sacrifice was not made in vain." Oh puhleez! Don't do me any favors. I don't want to go there- whether Ken was killed in vain, but please, please, please, do not spill one more drop of blood to honor my child's sacrifice. No more flags, no coffins, no Gold Star banners.
Despite what George Bush says, 'The most painful aspect of my presidency has been knowing that good men and women have died in combat. I read about it every night, and my heart breaks for a mother, a father, a husband, wife or son and daughter, it just does,'' he said. ``And so when you ask about pain, that's pain. I reach out to a lot of the families; I spend time with them. I am always inspired by their spirit.''
''Look,'' he said, ``my heart breaks for them, it just does, on a regular basis.'' I don't believe it. I don't believe this president has shed one tear for my son. I don't believe he cares; in fact I don't think he has the capacity to care. He says he meets with military families, but those families are chosen, for the most part. They are chosen for their politics. Do they agree with the president? okay, you're in. Against? You are not welcome here.
It's true that I don't like this president. I never supported him, his family or his politics. But, he has proven himself incapable of showing emotion and the subject of dead American soldiers is no exception. Our kids are George Bush's little, green Army men. He says he has not decided on a plan to increase the number of American soldiers in Iraq by 15,000-20000, but we know that he has already decided; kind of like he hadn't decided to invade Iraq when he told us that back in October 2002. He isn't listening to the generals on the ground, he isn't listening to the soldiers or to the Iraq Study group and he may have heard about the resounding message we sent to Washington in November, BRING THE TROOPS HOME NOW!, but he's not listening.
Besides, any President serving at a time of war, who has no problem sleeping just doesn't understand the magnitude of grief that war causes. This war, that he initiated. In an interview with People magazine, Bush said “I must tell you, I'm sleeping a lot better than people would assume”. I wish I could sleep as well.
It's time for this president to grow up and understand the magnitude of the financial and human losses this country has suffered while he continues to insist on victory in Iraq. (whatever that means....)