by Mary lou Seymour November 11,2003
This Veterans Day, I'd like to give my thanks to all vets who have helped keep America safe and free, but I'd especially like to pay tribute to those vets who have the courage and conviction to understand that keeping America "safe and free" sometimes means saying "hell no, I won't go", or, "enough is enough".
Signing up to protect one's home and country and the ideals on which this nation was founded is a noble undertaking. All too often, throughout our history, our soldiers have been taken advantage of by unscrupulous politicians who put their own fortunes and glory above that of this country and its Constitution which THEY have taken an oath to "preserve and defend against all enemies, foreign and domestic". All too often, after the politicians' rhetoric fades, and they have gone on to other endeavors, our veterans are left behind, their lives shattered by a politician's agenda.
I thought of this when I saw this story in the New York Times:
US opposes money for troops tortured in Iraq
"The Bush administration is seeking to block a group of American troops who were tortured in Iraqi prisons during the Persian Gulf war in 1991 from collecting any of the hundreds of millions of dollars in frozen Iraqi assets they won last summer in a federal court ruling against the government of Saddam Hussein. In a court challenge that the administration is winning so far but is not eager to publicize, administration lawyers have argued that Iraqi assets frozen in bank accounts in the United States are needed for Iraqi reconstruction and that the judgment won by the 17 former American prisoners should be overturned."
Again and again, throughout our history, our veterans are forgotten, and cheated, and discarded by the state when their "purpose" is served.
Anyone who doubts that the current war in Iraq, instead of ending with the "fall of Baghdad" in April, has instead entered into an ongoing guerilla war that may indeed be "Vietnam in the desert", has simply not been paying attention. CNN reports "Thirty-seven U.S. troops and one Polish soldier died in Iraq in the first week of November alone." (missile downed black hawk) Capitol Hill Blue reports "America passed another grim milepost Friday when the war in Iraq became the deadliest U.S. conflict since the Vietnam War." (A grim, deadly milepost). And the headlines keep rolling in. How many dead today? Only one? Two? Eleven?
And our "leaders" response? More troops, of course. (Pentagon alerts
43,000 for Iraq duty). And, even more ominously, "a few weeks ago, on an obscure federal Web site devoted to the war on terrorism, the Bush administration quietly began a public campaign to bring the draft boards back to life." (Oiling up the draft machine), and, the response of "A new underground railroad" to Canada in the event the draft does return.
So, this Veterans Day, let us salute our vets, particularly those in organizations such as:
Bring Them Home Now. A campaign of military families, veterans, active duty personnel, reservists and others opposed to the ongoing war in Iraq;
Citizen Soldier, a GI/veterans rights advocacy group founded during the Vietnam war;
Military Families Speak Out, organization of people who are opposed to war in Iraq and who have relatives or loved ones in the military;
Veterans For Peace, veterans from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf War, other conflicts and peacetime veterans whose " collective experience tells us wars are easy to start and hard to stop and that those hurt are often the innocent.";
Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Inc. (VVAW) a national veterans' organization that was founded in New York City in 1967 to "do all we can to prevent another generation from being put through a similar tragedy and we will continue to demand dignity and respect for veterans of all eras."
Veterans Against Iraq War, a coalition of American veterans who support our troops but oppose war with Iraq or any other nation that does not pose a clear and present danger to our people and nation;
Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation (VVAF) a vet organization dedicated to global security and reducing the worldwide threat posed by war and conflict through programs that promote justice and freedom;
Veterans for Common Sense, an organization started in August 2002, by several Gulf War combat veterans who have formed an organization so the concerns of veterans would be raised and discussed in public before the bullets started flying again.
For those who wish to take additional actions this fall to "bring them home now", PoliticalNonViolence.Org has a great new campaign "Home for the Holidays" to spread the meme that US troops could be home by Christmas, and urge the Bush Administration to "bring them home now".
As we go to Veterans Day parades or celebrations (often sadly held in VA nursing homes) to salute our veterans today, or as we watch the ceremonies and speeches on TV, let us in our hearts and minds remember and salute the bravest among them, those who have the courage and conviction to work for peace, and to bring our troops home.
Til next week For Freedom