By Les Blough, EditorJan 30, 2005, 18:44
Today, January 30, 2005, Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) kicked off their Iraq Veterans Tour in Massachusetts with a powerful, moving and inspiring presentation to a packed house at historic Fanueil Hall in Downtown Boston. We were there to learn more and to cover the story. Throughout the 2 hour presentation, I noted that there were few dry eyes among about 800 members who attended.
As we passed out flyers outside famous Quincy Market prior to the event, I also noted that a very high percentage of passersby expressed gratitude for our work and commented about their opposition to the war in Iraq. This was a striking change from the reception we have experienced in the past at such protests. Based upon this very limited experience and impressions gained through media and daily correspondence, it appears that a sea-change is occurring in the United States as more and more people become disgusted with the great misadventure that is the Bush/Neocon war on the people of Iraq.
The IVAW Tour is sponsored by Military Families Speak Out and Bring The Troops Home Now, Veterans for Peace, and locally by United for Justice With Peace. The tour is comprised of a coalition of dozens of campus, youth, community, and labor organizations.
Nancy Lessin, Co-Founder with Charley Richardson of Military Families Speak Out chaired the meeting and began by introducing Chuck Turner, who stands apart as the courageous and effective member of the Boston City Council. Councilman Turner was greeted and thanked for his help in organising the event. He opened the meeting with a riveting message about how money is being diverted from education, health care and the needs of the community for the war in Iraq. He spoke of the losses to schools and the entire infrastructure of public education in the U.S. for the advantages of a wealthy elite and their dreams of empire.
Kelly Dougherty, 26, spent 10 months in Iraq as a Sergeant with her National Guard unit, the 220th Military Police Company. She is a cofounder of Iraq Veterans Against the War.
"When we first arrived in Iraq, part of what struck me was the poverty and desperation of the Iraqi people... I believe that as long as the U.S. continues to occupy Iraq, the Iraqis will continue to fight against us."
Kelly said that at the end of her tour she saw even greater poverty than that which was caused by the 1991 invasion and 10 years of devastating sanctions on Iraq. She spoke of how she served in the National Guard in Colorado for 8 years before being activated to go to Iraq. She told of how prior to the war in Iraq, her unit served the United States in national disasters such as the Columbine High School tragedy. She spoke of the losses of National Guard service to the American people because they are being diverted to the war on the Iraqi people
Michael Hoffman, 25, was a Lance Corporal in a Marine Corps artillery battery during the March 2003 invasion of Iraq and is a cofounder of Iraq Veterans Against the War.
"On the way to Baghdad, I saw bodies by the road, many in civilian clothing. Every time a car got near my Humvee, everyone inside braced themselves, not knowing if gunfire would suddenly erupt out of it. When your enemy is unclear, everyone becomes your enemy."
Michael spoke of the senseless killing of Iraqi people and the wasted lives of young men and women who have been sent there to fight. His message was singular and clear: Support the troops by bringing them home now.
A young man and veteran of the war in Iraq spoke of his duties as a chaplain’s assistant and of his twin brother, killed in action in Iraq. He told what it is like to "look loved ones in the eye and tell them their son or daughter won’t be coming home". He spoke tenderly of his loss of his twin brother and asked what why he fought and died.
A 17 year old young woman spoke tearfully of her father who was activated to serve in Iraq and read one of his poetic letters to her and her mother about waking in a military camp to the sounds of sparrows singing, mixed with the sounds of war machinery. Breaking down time and again throughout her talk, she talked about how much she misses him and how much he wants only to come home.
A sister in the Lucey Family from Belchertown, MA told the heart-breaking story of her brother who served in the Marine Corps in Iraq. She said he went to Iraq as a vibrant young man with dreams of obtaining an education, a career and a future. She described him as a child who was in the Cub Scouts and loved to play sports. He came home to a wonderful reunion with his family and "everything seemed normal". Her brother went back to school to complete his education, but "he wasn’t the same". She said that she first noticed a change in him at their first Christmas after he returned. In a conversation with her, he broke down, threw dogtags on the floor and cried out, "You don’t understand. I’m a murderer!" He was unable to sleep nights, developed anxiety and began to drink heavily. He and his family sought help for him with the VA and other medical providers but were unable to obtain assistance. While she and her mother were working at a camp for disadvantaged children in Maine, her father called them to tell them that her brother committed suicide in their home. She pointed out that there are many veterans of this war like her brother who are not counted in the body and casualty counts. But they are casualties of the war in Iraq, nonetheless.
The young sister’s story was followed by her father, Mr. Lucey who lost his only son in the war. He spoke against the war based on lies and for the purpose of stealing the oil reserves from the Iraqi people.
Rose Gentle, one of the founders of Military Families Against the War told how her son, Gordon Gentle was killed in Iraq on June 28th, 2004.
A young woman with a 2 year old child told of how her 46 year old mother was activated from the reserves and sent to Iraq for 545 days. "545 days is a long time", she said. She spoke of her mother’s letters in which she tells how she does not believe the U.S. military is serving any good purpose in Iraq and how she wants only to come home. She told of how she misses her mother and wants her to come home to her 2 grandchildren. In a recent letter her mother told her that she is afraid she will never her daughter and grandchildren again.
Another member of Military Families Speak Out described the deceit and manipulation used by Military Recruiters in our schools and communities. She spoke of her son who served and her nephew who is in Iraq right now, fearing for his life.
There were other tearful stories from these young people who courageously toured the U.K. and now the U.S. with a single, heart-felt message: "Bring the troops home now, after 1430 of them have been killed, thousands wounded and 100,000 innocent Iraqis dead. Bring the troops home now before one more has lost his or her life in a war that is being waged in the interest of a wealthy few and for the failing U.S. empire. Read other stories of soldiers and their families who oppose the war in Iraq at Military Families Speak Out
The Axis of Logic Group urges every reader to attend this important tour when it comes to a community near you and to support Iraq Veterans Against the War with your donations.
© Copyright 2005 by AxisofLogic.com
The IVAW Mission (Iraq Veterans Against the War)
Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) is a group of veterans who have served since September 11th, 2001 including Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. We are committed to saving lives and ending the violence in Iraq by an immediate withdrawal of all occupying forces. We also believe that the governments that sponsored these wars are indebted to the men and women who were forced to fight them and must give their Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, and Airmen the benefits that are owed to them upon their return home.
We welcome all active duty, national guard, reservists, and recent veterans into our ranks. Confidentiality can be assured. To join IVAW please send an email to join IVAW email@example.com
The IVAW Tour schedule in Massachusetts:
Sun Jan 30 Fanueil Hall, Boston 3-5pm
Mon Jan 31 Salem State College 11am-1pm
Mon Jan 31 Endicott College, Beverly 2-5pm
Mon Jan 31 Lynn, MA 6:30-9:30pm
Tues Feb 1 South End, Boston 3:30-6pm
Tues Feb 1 M.I.T. Cambridge 4:30-6pm
Tues Feb 1 Roxbury 7-9pm
Tues Feb 1 Bridgewater State College 7-9pm
Wed Feb 2 UMass Lowell Noon-2pmWed Feb 2
UMass Boston 2:30-5pm
Wed Feb 2 Tufts, Somerville 7-9pm
Wed Feb 2 Northeastern Univ, Boston 7-9pm
Thu Feb 3 B.U. Law School 5-6:30pm
Thu Feb 3 Chelsea 7:30-9:30pm
Fri Feb 4 Roxbury Community College 11:30am-1pm
Fri Feb 4 Harvard Univ, Cambridge 4-6pm
Fri Feb 4 Watertown 7-9pmSun Feb 6 Boston 11am-Noon