Military Families Speak Out Washington State Chapter

Links

Bring Them Home Now!

One of the features of military families in this war that differs from previous wars is that there are more young married soldiers.

Here are some statistics:

-- in Iraq war, soldiers often married, with children

-- 55% of military personnel are married. 56% of those married are between 22 and 29.

-- One million military children are under 11.

-- 40% are 5 or younger.

-- 63% of spouses work, including 87% of junior-enlisted spouses.

Source: Department of Defense and National Military Family Association.



Dissent is loyalty Robert Taft, the conservative Ohio senator who is a hero to many of today's conservatives, gave a speech at the Executive Club of Chicago in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor.

There are a number of paragraphs that are just grand, but here's the best one, which is worth quoting in full:

As a matter of general principle, I believe there can be no doubt that criticism in time of war is essential to the maintenance of any kind of democratic government

... too many people desire to suppress criticism simply because they think that it will give some comfort to the enemy to know that there is such criticism.

If that comfort makes the enemy feel better for a few moments, they are welcome to it as far as I am concerned, because
the maintenance of the right of criticism in the long run will do the country maintaining it a great deal more good than it will do the enemy,
and will prevent mistakes which might otherwise occur.

Drink in those words.

That's not William Fulbright two years into the Vietnam War.

It's not Ted Kennedy last week.

It's Mr. Republican, speaking -- when? Not mid-1943, or even March 1942

Taft delivered this speech ... on December 19, 1941!

That's right: Twelve days after the worst attack on American soil in the country's history,

perhaps with bodies still floating in the harbor,

the leader of the congressional opposition said to the president, 'we will question, we will probe, we will debate.'

By Michael Tomasky,
The AMERICAN Prospect online


Order and send postcards to Congress - Fund our Troops, Defund the

Bring Them Home Now postage stamps


For more information see Appeal for Redress website.


For more information go to dvd 'The Ground Truth' website.


Some Past Campaigns - Washington state chapter MFSO members participation

2007

(photo - Daniel Ellsberg, Lt. Ehren Watada)

(photo - Organizing Team; Lietta Ruger - MFSO - WA chapter introduces the Panelists)

(photo - on the Panel - Elizabeth Falzone - GSFSO/ MFSO - WA chapter and Rich Moniak - MFSO - Alaska chapter listen to two days of testimony)

(photo - close up of Panelists Elizabeth Falzone - GSFSO/ MFSO - WA chapter and Rich Moniak - MFSO - Alaska chapter)

(photo - rRetired Diplomat Col. Ann Wright gives her testimony)

(photo - Organizing Team - Lietta Ruger - MFSO - WA chapter with retired Col. Ann Wright - Testifier)

(photo - Stacy Bannerma, wife of returning Iraq veteran - WA Natl Guard, gives testimony)

(photo - close up Stacy Bannerman, author of 'When The War Came Home' gives her testimony. Formerly MFSO - WA chapter. For more on Stacy, her book, media archives, see her website at www.stacybannerman.com)

(photo - IVAW veterans Geoffrey Millard and former Lt. Harvey Tharp give their testimony)

See website; 'Citizens' Hearing on Legality of U.S. Actions in Iraq';

Jan 20-21- 2007, Tacoma, WA.

A 2 day citizens' tribunal support action in defense of Lt. Ehren Watada court martial at Fort Lewis.

(Organizing Team from MFSO - WA chapter; Lietta Ruger, Judy Linehan)

2006


(photo Lietta Ruger, MFSO- WA, in support Lt. Ehren Watada, June 2006, Tacoma, WA)

(photo - Jenny Keesey, Judy Linehan, Lietta Ruger - from MFSO-WA in support of Lt. Ehren Watada June 2006, Tacoma, WA)

(photo - Lietta Ruger, Judy Linehan, Jenny Keesey - from MFSO - WA chapter, June 2006, Tacoma, WA)

(photo - Judy Linehan, MFSO - WA at support rally for Lt. Watada, June 2006, Tacoma, WA)

June 2006 ongoing through court martial Feb 2007

For more information, see 'Thank You Lt. Ehren Watada' website.


(photo - right is Stacy Bannerman, MFSO -WA; organizing team)

Representative Brian Baird, Washington state 3rd Congressional District, in blue shirt comes out to talk with MFSO members at 'Operation House Call')

'Operation House Call' June thru August 2006 in Washington DC.

MFSO members make individual calls on Senators and Representatives advocating to Bring Them Home Now.

For more information go to 'Operation House Call' website.

postcards sent to Congress - summer 2006, 'Operation House Call'


2005


(photo - Lietta Ruger, MFSO-WA on central tour. Not pictured - Stacy Bannerman, MFSO -WA on northern tour)

Bring Them Home Now tour - Sept 1 thru Sept 25 2005. From Crawford, Texas to Washington DC. see Bring Them Home Now tour website


(photo - left Lietta Ruger, MFSO -WA with center Cindy Sheehan and right Juan Torres at Crawford, Texas, Camp Casey, Aug 9, 2005


2004

photos from Newshour with Jim Lehrer; segment 'Homefront Battles' aired Oct 2004.

Online video, audio and article still available at Newshour website. photo - Sue Niederer, MFSO. Her son U.S. Army 2nd Lt.Seth Dvorin, 24 yrs old was killed in Iraq Feb 3, 2004.

photo - Nancy Lessin, MFSO Co-Founder

photo - Lietta Ruger, MFSO - WA

photo - Stacy Bannerman, MFSO - WA


See at Seattle PI; List of casualties with Washington state ties

This is one of WA state casualties; Army Spc. Jonathan J. Santos, Whatcom County, Washington died Oct 15, 2004

Watch a slide show of family photos and listen to audio recordings of Army Cpl. Jonathan Santos' mother, brother and the woman who's documenting his life.

See the trailer for the documentary "The Corporal's Boots." (QuickTime 7 required).

A special thank you to mother, Doris Kent - GSFSO/ MFSO - WA for her generous sharing and contribution in speaking of her son's life and death in Iraq


Title 17 disclaimer In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.
Archive


Contact us


mfso@mfso.org




Military Families Speak Out
is an organization of people who are opposed to war in Iraq and who have relatives or loved ones in the military. We were formed in November of 2002 and have contacts with military families throughout the United States, and in other countries around the world.

As people with family members and loved ones in the military, we have both a special need and a unique role to play in speaking out against war in Iraq. It is our loved ones who are, or have been, or will be on the battlefront. It is our loved ones who are risking injury and death. It is our loved ones who are returning scarred from their experiences. It is our loved ones who will have to live with the injuries and deaths among innocent Iraqi civilians.

If you have family members or loved ones in the military and you are opposed to this war join us.

Send us an e-mail at
mfso@mfso.org
.
You can call us at 617-522-9323
or Send us mail at:
MFSO
P.O. Box 549
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130.

click here - MFSO Membership Form – to join Military Families Speak Out or

JOIN us by sending an e-mail to mfso@mfso.org.


MFSO - Become a Member

Membership in MFSO is open to anyone who has a family member or loved one serving, since August 2002, in any branch of our Armed Forces

* The Reserves

* The National Guard

* Returned from serving but still eligible for redeployment under stop loss.

There is no membership fee. Donations are welcome.

People who are not eligible for MFSO membership may join our Supporter Group. You are welcome to attend meetings that are open to the public, volunteer to help with event preparation and participate in our community actions and events. Supporters may purchase MFSO t-shirts and wear them with the "Proud Supporter of MFSO" button. Buttons may also be worn without the t-shirt.

Our Supporters provide emotional encouragement and physical help to our MFSO military families who are under extreme stress, especially if their loved one is in Iraq or Afghanistan

We welcome your involvement, please contact us.


click to see the list MFSO chapters other than Washington state forming around the country.


Open Community
Post to this Blog
You are not logged in. Log in
CHRONOLOGICAL ARCHIVES
into our 3rd year of speaking out
20 Oct, 08 > 26 Oct, 08
7 Jan, 08 > 13 Jan, 08
29 Oct, 07 > 4 Nov, 07
10 Sep, 07 > 16 Sep, 07
16 Jul, 07 > 22 Jul, 07
2 Jul, 07 > 8 Jul, 07
4 Jun, 07 > 10 Jun, 07
28 May, 07 > 3 Jun, 07
14 May, 07 > 20 May, 07
7 May, 07 > 13 May, 07
30 Apr, 07 > 6 May, 07
23 Apr, 07 > 29 Apr, 07
16 Apr, 07 > 22 Apr, 07
9 Apr, 07 > 15 Apr, 07
2 Apr, 07 > 8 Apr, 07
26 Mar, 07 > 1 Apr, 07
19 Mar, 07 > 25 Mar, 07
12 Mar, 07 > 18 Mar, 07
5 Mar, 07 > 11 Mar, 07
26 Feb, 07 > 4 Mar, 07
19 Feb, 07 > 25 Feb, 07
12 Feb, 07 > 18 Feb, 07
5 Feb, 07 > 11 Feb, 07
29 Jan, 07 > 4 Feb, 07
22 Jan, 07 > 28 Jan, 07
15 Jan, 07 > 21 Jan, 07
8 Jan, 07 > 14 Jan, 07
1 Jan, 07 > 7 Jan, 07
25 Dec, 06 > 31 Dec, 06
20 Nov, 06 > 26 Nov, 06
13 Nov, 06 > 19 Nov, 06
6 Nov, 06 > 12 Nov, 06
23 Oct, 06 > 29 Oct, 06
16 Oct, 06 > 22 Oct, 06
25 Sep, 06 > 1 Oct, 06
4 Sep, 06 > 10 Sep, 06
28 Aug, 06 > 3 Sep, 06
21 Aug, 06 > 27 Aug, 06
14 Aug, 06 > 20 Aug, 06
31 Jul, 06 > 6 Aug, 06
24 Jul, 06 > 30 Jul, 06
17 Jul, 06 > 23 Jul, 06
10 Jul, 06 > 16 Jul, 06
3 Jul, 06 > 9 Jul, 06
26 Jun, 06 > 2 Jul, 06
19 Jun, 06 > 25 Jun, 06
12 Jun, 06 > 18 Jun, 06
5 Jun, 06 > 11 Jun, 06
29 May, 06 > 4 Jun, 06
22 May, 06 > 28 May, 06
8 May, 06 > 14 May, 06
1 May, 06 > 7 May, 06
24 Apr, 06 > 30 Apr, 06
3 Apr, 06 > 9 Apr, 06
27 Mar, 06 > 2 Apr, 06
20 Mar, 06 > 26 Mar, 06
13 Mar, 06 > 19 Mar, 06
6 Mar, 06 > 12 Mar, 06
27 Feb, 06 > 5 Mar, 06
20 Feb, 06 > 26 Feb, 06
13 Feb, 06 > 19 Feb, 06
30 Jan, 06 > 5 Feb, 06
23 Jan, 06 > 29 Jan, 06
16 Jan, 06 > 22 Jan, 06
9 Jan, 06 > 15 Jan, 06
14 Nov, 05 > 20 Nov, 05
24 Oct, 05 > 30 Oct, 05
26 Sep, 05 > 2 Oct, 05
15 Aug, 05 > 21 Aug, 05
8 Aug, 05 > 14 Aug, 05
25 Jul, 05 > 31 Jul, 05
11 Jul, 05 > 17 Jul, 05
4 Jul, 05 > 10 Jul, 05
30 May, 05 > 5 Jun, 05
4 Apr, 05 > 10 Apr, 05
7 Mar, 05 > 13 Mar, 05
28 Feb, 05 > 6 Mar, 05
24 Jan, 05 > 30 Jan, 05
1 Nov, 04 > 7 Nov, 04
18 Oct, 04 > 24 Oct, 04
11 Oct, 04 > 17 Oct, 04
4 Oct, 04 > 10 Oct, 04

Wednesday, 28 March 2007
Washington DC under 'occupation' - Now that is Some street theatre - Thanks IVAW
Mood:  surprised

by Lietta Ruger

In a staged all day guerrilla street theatre production, the Iraq Veterans Against the War, gave an example of what it might be like if Washington DC was 'occupied' by military troops. IVAW - whose members are returning Iraq veterans who have served in combat tours in Iraq - commemorated the 4th anniversary of Iraq war with this staged production in Washington DC, March 19, 2007.

 

(this is posted to my blog, Dying to Preserve the Lies. Repeating it here because I'm so fascinated with what IVAW did)

When I saw some of the photos, I was both startled and impressed with the way IVAW chose to share their message. I think you will also be startled, and I hope impressed, by the photos depicting the actions of IVAW. I do wish I had been in DC to see it as I know it would have kept my interest the entire day. I hope IVAW will stage this kind of theatre again, maybe in various local communities. I talked to one of my colleagues in Texas and she thought she might invited them to stage the theatre in her city in Texas.

See additional photos including the mock taking of detainees at  IVAW website.


And see More photos - excellent photography with chilling effects.

Also read the 'Far From Iraq; A Demonstration of a War Zone', the Washington Post article and account of the IVAW actions that day in DC. Interesting way WAPO put it together - and gives more detail to some of the photos, and some of the citizen public reactions to what was happening! There is also a short online video posted at WAPO website, along with the article.


Securing the Area


















Stopping Bus at Checkpoint







Lance Corporal Cloy Richards, looking for Al-Anbar ghosts




Sniper-Instigator G-Repp

photos courtesy of my friend, pictured below  
Bill Perry, Delaware Valley Veterans For America Disabled American Veteran, VVAW, VFP, VFW, VVA


Vietnam veteran, Bill Perry with Iraq veteran, Geoffrey Millard (member of IVAW).

Bill was there and has these comments (along with the photos) on the experience:

Truth is the FIRST CASUALTY of WAR

    It was a remarkable privilege to witness IVAW running a mission that included interrogations of civilians, taking hostages, and displaying the hostility that an Occupation Force must possess.

    IVAW certainly learned from us VVAW Vets of R.A.W. ( Rapid American Withdrawal ) and our Labor Day weekend, 1970 March, from Mooristown, NJ, to Valley Forge, PA.

    Our VVAW March had incredibly long stretches thru the countryside, where nobody but pheasants and farm animals saw us, over 3 days.

    IVAW's run, from Union Station, Congress, the Nat'l Mall, Wash Monument, etc., only took 8 hours, and garnered worldwide attention.

    The varied reactions of passersby ran the gamut:  Fear, consternation, shock, appreciation, and many expressed great PRIDE in IVAW's Guerilla Theater.

    My favorite moment was when I informed 3 or 400 high school kids, { in the RED Tee-shirts } what the IVAW mission was, and they broke out in wild applause & appreciation.

 

(posted by Lietta Ruger - shout out of thanks to Bill Perry for making the photos available)


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 2:15 PM PDT
Tuesday, 27 March 2007

Now Playing: New WA MFSO Chapter Member David Kannas
Topic: Members Speak Out

[Ed note: Received this via email. David recently joined up with MFSO and our Chapter. As I understand it he is out of Seattle. - Arthur]  


I have looked for another way of contacting you with this poem without success. It would be a great honor to have it included in your web page. My son, Dylan, is in the Air Force Security Forces and has been to Iraq twice and will return in June. On the last tour he was assigned to an Army unit that convoyed supplies from Balad to FOBs. It seems that the Army is wearing out. Thanks.

Regards,
Dave Kannas

 

                         IN SILENCE, NO BREATHING
                              

                             (with thanks to Jim Lehrer)
There was a time, years ago, another age
when this began, this silence.
And now, in silence 10, 12, 14 more.

Always more, never less.
But there were days, long ago,
in another age, when more was less.
When silence wasn't so silent.
Now, in silence, 15, 15, 17 more.

Breathing isn't important anymore.
When will that be accepted fact?
The lack of breathing, this silence, makes hearing easier.
And again, in silence, some more.

You'd think we'd know by now.
About death, that it's silent.
No breathing in death.
That the young are the most silent, loud in life, silent in death.
But here are more, a squad.

Smiles, no smiles, starched and rumpled, bright and not.
Some loved, some loved more.
All silent, not breathing.
Always in frames on tables, always young, mostly.
Always more, and in silence.

War is like this, it makes silence.
Makes life stop, frames life.
Frames faces of silent souls.
This silence maker, war.

But it's worse than that, this war, this maker of silence.
It's the end, the end to honesty in death.
We call it something else.
Heroic sacrifice, for example.

Continued in the name of more death, this war.
So previous death isn't for naught, they say.
So freedom can reign, they say.
So there can be more silence.

So we can continue in silence.
How many more, how much silence before the end?
Before the end of youth and hope?
And here, in silence.


David Kannas, November, 2006

 



Posted by SwanDeer Project at 8:13 PM PDT
Sunday, 25 March 2007
Action is worth 1000 words but talk - like slogan - is cheap
Now Playing: Christian Science Monitor and an opinion by Arthur Ruger
Topic: Take Care of Them
Americans support the troops with food, soap, DVDs

 

[Excerpt from the Christian Science Monitor. The read the entire article, click here

Four years into the war in Iraq, private support for US soldiers looks as strong as ever.

 

By Tom A. Peter | Contributor to The Christian Science Monitor

Page 1 of 4

What do US soldiers need in Iraq? Probably not hand-knitted caps and booties.

"We're running into a lot of knitted items" in care packages, says Marine 1st Lieutenant Barry Edwards, public affairs officer for Regimental Combat Team Six in Fallujah.

"Great job on the knitting, but we're starting to break 85 degrees [F.] ... and in about another month it's going to be over 100."

Four years into America's war in Iraq, public approval of the effort has fallen sharply, but private support for the troops looks as strong as ever. Since no official statistics exist, the evidence is necessarily anecdotal. Soldiers in war zones receive a steady influx of care packages and letters. Domestically, organizations that offer aid to soldiers and their families have enjoyed consistent support, and some have even grown.

After only three months in Iraq, Lieutenant Edwards has received over 200 care packages addressed to him. They came from friends, family, and complete strangers, he said in a phone interview, adding that he distributes most of them throughout the regiment.

"We definitely receive more now than in previous deployments. America's support for her troops has not waned," he says.

Other troops report similar experiences.

"I have received so much stuff, I would be hard-pressed to say 'thanks' enough," writes Commander Paul Eich, a naval aviator working as an intelligence officer in Baghdad, in an e-mail.

Commander Eich, speaking as a citizen, not a representative of the US military or government, says he once received two boxes with enough hand sanitizer to last him over six months.

Army Pvt. Ryan Zarzecki, from the 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment in southern Baghdad, said he's often surprised to get mail from a stranger.

"Anything you get in the mail that's not a bill is a nice thing," he says with a smile.


  The read the entire article, click here
The Monitor article is excellent.  
Long distance attending to detail by citizens must be augmented by those we elected and expect to attend to the important details once our loved one's arrive home.  
 
Bring the troops home now!
Take Care of Them When They Get Here! 
 
Lukovich's cartoon below talks about those who say but don't do.

 

Posted by SwanDeer Project at 9:52 AM PDT
Updated: Sunday, 25 March 2007 10:23 AM PDT
Monday, 19 March 2007

Now Playing: Memorial Continues: Army Spc. Jonathan J. Santos and family
Topic: Remembrances
Army Spc. Jonathan J. Santos
 
Died:
October 15, 2004
 
 
22, of Whatcom, Wash.; assigned to the 9th Psychological Operations Battalion, 4th Psychological Operations Group (Airborne), Fort Bragg, N.C.; killed Oct. 15 when a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle in Karabilah, Iraq.
 
 
 
             
 
[Editor's Note: Lietta and Doris Kent, Jonathan's Mother, exchanged emails about yesterday's article in the Seattle Times and we received permission from Doris to publish. In researching the story I also found an earlier article about Jonathan and this family that was absolutely eloquent. Copyright laws don't allow publishing of the full articles so I am publishing excerpts from each and providing links to each article in its entirety. - Arthur]

 
Jared Santos: "I remember when his body came to town"
 

Sunday, March 18, 2007 -
By Marsha King
Seattle Times staff reporter

Click here to read the entire article



  PREV     of     NEXT 


Jared Santos, 17, Bellingham, Sehome High School student, who stands with his brother Justin, 15, right, at the cemetery where their brother, who was killed in Iraq, is buried.
Photo:John Lok/The Seattle Times


Brothers Jared and Justin Santos woke up to their mother's screams.

"I thought she fell down the stairs," Jared recalled. Even after seeing the two somber soldiers in the living room, "I was thinking he might be missing. I didn't think he might be killed."

But their older brother, Cpl. Jonathan Santos, 22 and in Iraq for just five weeks, had been killed by a suicide bomber Oct. 15, 2004.

... People from all over Bellingham turned out to pay respects — "I didn't know that many people cared that much," Justin said.

Close friends at school stayed near. "I teared up really bad," Jared said. "A lot of the guys walked over and patted me on the shoulder."

For a long time, Jared couldn't talk about his feelings, and Justin was sad, angry and depressed. Their mother always has opposed the war; now both boys understand why and share her feelings.

Now their father — a career military man and divorced from their mother — also has been sent to Iraq. He's supposedly out of harm's way, but the brothers worry and e-mail him every day. They cope by supporting their mom, staying busy and playing sports.

Their deceased brother's memorabilia decorates their rooms; Jared wears the clothes Jonathan left behind and sleeps under his comforter. Since the death, Jared is working harder and has grown less shy. He's participating in a film project about his brother and wants "to name my first boy Jonathan."

Justin is getting straight A's and attends war protests with his mother. He envisions a job in politics — "helping save the lives of soldiers."



 No. 1,096: 'You can't think about death.'
Boots inspire two mothers to make a soldier's death more than just a number

Friday, May 19, 2006
By ATHIMA CHANSANCHAI
P-I REPORTER

Click here to read the entire article. 

The woman threads a bracelet and a rosary through the laces of the boots -- standard-issue military. She ties and unties the laces with trembling fingers, trying to get the tops of the boots to stand at attention.

The tighter she ties, the straighter they stand.
 

 


She stares at them a long time, her shoulders hunched over as her slight body heaves up and down in rhythm to the sobs. One of her sons stands behind her and puts a hand on her shoulder.

The boots are unremarkable: black, midcalf, Army surplus, used -- somebody else's boots.

They look just like the other 1,546 pairs of boots at the Seattle Center's Fisher Pavilion. They're lined up and spaced in neat rows, like soldiers at parade rest. Some are adorned with flags and photographs, some with flowers.

But it's the pair with the rosary and the silver bracelet that will bring together two women who each found a new life amid so much death.

One woman, Patricia, is a mother, a family doctor, a documentary filmmaker and a Quaker. In two decades of practice, she has seen how passionately children are protected and nurtured into adulthood. She cannot understand why they are sent off to war to be killed.

The other, Doris, is a military wife and mother whose eldest son enlisted in the U.S. Army three months before Sept. 11, 2001, the day mother and son realized the world had become a dangerous place.

"Son, you be careful," the woman told him.

I've got to get this down  

Kent with son's boots
 
MERYL SCHENKER/P-I
 Doris Kent of Bellingham with her son’s boots, with a picture and a bracelet threaded through the laces. Army Cpl. Jonathan Santos had just seven months to serve when he was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq in October 2004.



Medicine is Patricia Boiko's calling. Stories are in her blood -- true stories.

Six years ago, she began taking classes at the University of Washington to become certified in documentary filmmaking. It was a natural fit.

Patricia went to the exhibit at the Seattle Center with her camera. At the time -- a little more than two years after the war in Iraq started -- 1,546 U.S. soldiers had been killed.

Patricia found the boots that had been so carefully laced up with a silver rosary and metal bracelet.

Then she went on the Internet and found the name of the Washington state soldier memorialized by the Army-issue boots, Googling her way to his mother, Doris Kent.

A stubborn first-born

Doris Kent grew up on Guam, the daughter of a Navy man and sister of a Vietnam vet. She married Leslie Santos, an Army man, and raised three

Santos with Kent
   
 Doris Kent and Jonathan Santos in 2001. Santos graduated from Sehome High School, where he played football and wrestled.

boys. She divorced the boys' father in 1995 and married Chris Kent in 1996.

Kent is also a retired Navy man. The couple met in Guam and moved to Bellingham in December 1996. They found a house in a quiet cul-de-sac with a clear view of the Canadian Rockies.

Doris had big dreams for the boys. As the only one of 10 children who went to college, she made it clear to her sons that they would go to college. But her first-born was stubborn.

He signed up for delayed entry into the Army.

"His junior year, a recruiter got hold of him, and he said, 'Mom, I'm going to earn my own college money.' I said, 'No. I'm going to pay for it.' We argued about it for three months."

He won. "He wasn't asking my permission to get into the military," said Doris. "He wanted my support."

Doris Kent, 45, has a streak of Martha Stewart. She keeps an immaculate house, loves to decorate and is an avid scrap-booker. Born into the military, she is a lifelong ID card holder, thanks to the active duty service members in her family.

"They're the ones that took the oath," Doris said. "We're the ones that took the life."

Until recently, she worked as a health educator in Prevention and Wellness Services at Western Washington University.

And until Oct. 15, 2004, her life was intact.

'Heard the heart breaking'

On Oct. 16, 2004, Jared Santos woke to the screams and cries of his mother, Doris Kent. His first thought: Mom has fallen down the stairs.

The 14-year-old ran down the hall to see what had happened.

His stepfather, Chris Kent, stopped him and ushered him back to his room. While he waited, Jared thought about his big brother: OK, he might be captured by insurgents or wounded. He's my brother. He isn't dead.

His stepdad came back for him a few minutes later.

Jared saw his mom crying in the living room. Two soldiers sat on the couch.

"I want you to tell them what you told me! I want them to hear it too!" Doris said, as Jared stood close by.

He'd never heard his mother scream like that.

"That was from the core of my heart, and what he heard was my heart being ripped out of my body. He heard the heart breaking," Doris said.

One of the strangers in uniform spoke up. "Corporal Jonathan Santos was killed in action yesterday while serving in Iraq."

Jared sat there with his head down. He let the tears stream down his face. I won't see you for the longest time, he thought, not until I am dead.

Doris had followed the daily death toll numbers from Iraq. Her son was now No. 1,096. "I thought, 'Oh no! They won't remember him. They'll just remember the numbers.' "

'Mom, I don't get it'

Before he was killed in Karabilah, Iraq, Jonathan Santos was a son, a brother, a friend, an athlete and a soldier.

Santos on duty
   
 Santos, shown here on duty overseas, was stationed in Haiti before heading to Iraq.

At Sehome High School in Bellingham, he played football and wrestled. He owned every book Stephen King ever wrote, but he also loved Calvin & Hobbes. He loved fireworks and fast cars. His dark blue 2002 Toyota Celica GT still sits in the Kents' driveway.

Born at Fort Knox, Ky., on Sept. 23, 1982, he was old enough to know firsthand the nomadic life of a military family.

Jonathan never thought of the military as a place where he could get killed. Sure, one of his uncles had died from exposure to Agent Orange, but his dad, Leslie Santos, had enlisted and served during peacetime.

Jonathan's plan: serve four years and earn enough money to go to college in Southern California, where he'd join his best friend from high school. Then Sept. 11 happened.

Jonathan had scored high on the Army's language aptitude test and wanted to learn Chinese. Instead, the Army chose Arabic for him. He became a linguist with the 9th Psychological Operations Battalion.

He was stationed first in Haiti, in March 2004. That's where he received his orders to go to Iraq. "He told me, 'Mom, I don't get it. They're taking us and making us leave a country that desperately needs us and wants us and sending us to a country that desperately wants to kill us.' After I hung up with him, all I could do was cry," Doris said.

When her son went to Iraq, he had only seven months left to serve. He was a good soldier, but he looked forward to getting out. Two weeks before his death, he wrote in his daily journal: "Today is my 22nd birthday. Great. I guess I'll throw a kick-ass kegger. I'll have a keg of Killians and one of Yuengling."What a bangin party, right? Well it aint gonna happen because I'm in Iraq. But I make this vow here and now. This is the last ... THE LAST BIRTHDAY THE ARMY WILL STEAL FROM ME!"

'Grim Reaper'

Doris Kent didn't find her son's journal until his tough box -- a soldier's chest of his most valuable items that returns to families after their death -- came back. When he was home on leave, he never mentioned his fears or doubts. She found out about them in the diary.

"He didn't talk down about anything," she said. "He talked about his future. It's all you can do. You can't think about death. You just can't."

Doris also found something else in the tough box -- videocassettes. Her son bought a video camera just before he left for Iraq and had taped everything.

Doris sat down and watched them by herself, pausing when she cried too hard. There's Jon talking and laughing with his friends and family. There's his cousin's wedding he attended while he was home. There are his brothers at Six Flags. Those are his Army buddies. Oh, and that's his dog Roxy in North Carolina. He loved that dog.

One of the last videos Jonathan made shows him making what he called his "Grim Reaper" -- a lucky charm of a skeletal scythe-bearer made from electrical tape. He kept it in his Humvee.

It was hanging from the roof as he and his two-man team made their way back from a mission on the Syrian border. A Marine journalist and an Iraqi translator accompanied them. All five men were in the third vehicle in a convoy of three. A car that had pulled off to the side of the road revved up and rammed into them.

The Humvee exploded. Jonathan was thrown from the vehicle. Only one person survived. Jonathan died in a Blackhawk helicopter en route to the hospital.

Two lives

Weeks after shooting the "Eyes Wide Open" exhibit at The Seattle Center, Patricia e-mailed Doris for permission to use the footage of the Army-issue boots laced up with a rosary and bracelet.

Within the hour, Doris called her. "Of course," Doris told her. "But I'd really like to tell you my story, and Jonathan's story."

The two met in Bellingham, about seven months after the explosion that took Jonathan's life.

"At the time I was still so raw, still enmeshed in unbelievable grief," Doris said. "She was so gentle and kind with me, so generous. She reached out to me without knowing me."

Their two worlds were about to change. A mother found her voice. And a physician found another way of healing -- as a filmmaker.

The documentary Patricia made is only eight minutes -- the first of a three-part work in progress. Part one is called "The Corporal's Boots," which will screen Sunday at the Northwest Film Forum.

It begins with the fresh recruit saying "Hi" to his mom in his green camos. Then it fades to soldiers marching. In the next scene, the words of the Quaker who stood up at the April meeting are overlaid on images of the exhibit -- first one boot, then another and another until they fill the screen. There are more boots than people walking around them.
 
Patricia and filmmaker Laurel Spellman Smith are now editing the second in the series, "The Corporal's Diary," which focuses on Jonathan's videos and diary excerpts, read by his brother Jared.

Jared Santos
   
 Jared Santos, younger brother of Cpl. Jonathan Santos, holds his brother’s diary. Jared reads from it in the second part of the series, "The Corporal’s Diary." Photo Meryl Schenker/P-I

The final segment will be "The Corporal's Memory," which follows Doris as she meets the mother of the one surviving member of Jonathan's team.

For Patricia, the filming has been difficult, psychologically and emotionally. She has a son who is about the same age Jonathan was when he died.

"I was able to keep it together to interview Doris. But editing Doris and watching Jonathan's tapes, I couldn't do it at first for more than an hour or two," Patricia said. "Also, I would become very angry. No one seemed to care about the war. They forget there's a war going on."

Some mothers of fallen soldiers who have seen the film view it as anti-war. Some see it as a memorial to the cost of war. She supports any way a mother needs to grieve and deal with her son or daughter's death in this war.

"Nobody could tell us how to hurt, how to miss them," she said. "You do whatever you have to do to get through this."

What Doris did was find a mission in her mourning.

Once the military mom hesitated to speak out against the war. She no longer holds her tongue -- even though at times she wonders if she's doing the right thing.

"I know the sacrifices that we as military families make in supporting a family member who is active duty. It's a political decision to send them to war. But it's a patriotic decision to serve in the military.

"Unfortunately, serving in the military right now is serving a political agenda, and my son was killed for that."

Jonathan Santos' gravesite at Bayview Cemetery is about five minutes from his family home.

There are two headstones for Jonathan in the veteran's portion of the cemetery.

One, from the Army, is flush with the ground. It shows he earned a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart. The other is upright and made of marble. It shows a sketch of a soldier at attention.

Doris visits at least three days a week, wiping the markers free of dust and grass, firming up the flags that line the small plot of grass behind the stones and decorating the site on holidays.

Her mantel at home also memorializes Jonathan. On it is an assembly of photos that show how the boy became the young man, the young man the soldier in the black boots.

She found them in his tough box. They're small boots: size 7 1/2. Jonathan was compact: 5-foot-7, about 160 pounds, mostly muscle.

Years of pulling the laces tight have made the tongues soft as butter. The heels are worn, the rounded toes scuffed.

On May 8, Doris carefully packed the boots in a carry-on suitcase, along with Jonathan's dog tags.

She headed to Washington, D.C., for the Mother’s Day March, and the last day of the “Eyes Wide Open” exhibit in the capital’s National Mall.

On May 13, the day of the march, she rode the escalator up into the Mall, carrying the boots in a shopping bag.

There were now 2,439 pairs of boots. A thousand more soldiers gone since she first saw the exhibit in Seattle.

Doris took out Jonathan's dog tags and put them around her neck, then walked to the rows of boots honoring Washington state's soldiers. She found the used black boots with her son's name on them.

She bent down, unlaced the boots, and painstakingly transferred her son's rosary and bracelet to the boots he'd first worn in basic training.

Doris tied the boots so tight they stood straight up. It looked as if her son was standing in them.

"Now I know Jonathan will be traveling with this exhibit," she said.

"First it was a pair of boots with his name on it, now it's Jonathan's boots -- not somebody else's boots, but his boots."

DIARY EXCERPTS

Excerpts from the daily diary entries of Army Cpl. Jonathan Santos in Iraq:

Sept. 13, 2004

It was smooth sailing to Al Qaim after that. We downloaded our gear once here. Our new pad is awesome. It's air conditioned and we all have beds. Before we came here, people were saying we have the worst living conditions. But I'd say this place is pretty sweet.

Sept. 18, 2004


Today there was a big Iraqi Police meeting at the IP training grounds. SPC (P) and I stayed outside and guarded the perimeter. The sun was blazin hot. Especially up in the turret in my Kevlar body armor, long sleeve and my dust mask insulating around my neck.

I also got these new shoulder guards that attach to the body armor. They're good for cutting off the circulation to my arms.

Sept. 28, 2004


I got mail from my youngest bro, Justin and my Mom. ... I watched some video footage I took of my friends (T) and Justin. They were talking about how they want me to return safely from Iraq. And I promised them I would. I never lie.

But is sure is dangerous here what with the rockets, mortars, IEDs and sniper attacks. I wanted to be an ATL and now that I am one, I'm up in the turret exposed to all of the hazards Iraqi insurgents put out there. Be careful what you wish for. You just may get it. I made the Angel of Death.

Sept. 29, 2004


A couple of days ago a marine killed himself and today I talked to one of the guys that cleaned up part of the mess. The guy who committed suicide shot himself in the head, and his buddies had to clean it up. That's (expletive) up.

Oct. 11, 2004


It's Columbus Day. Wonderful. So we honored this holiday by taking the day off. Good for us. I think we're going to honor it again tomorrow with another day off. Why? Because there isn't (expletive) for us to do here in Iraq.

But I'm alright with that. Sometimes I feel that way because I'm lazy. Other times I just want to live to see another day. I don't want to become just some picture on the wall to my younger brothers. I want to live ... like Quato lives.

Oct. 14, 2004

I once again enjoyed the splendors of Driver 3. I am an ace at that game. Missions have been on hold lately because Crypto (aka communications) was compromised. Some unit lost a radio when they hit a mine. The new fill comes out tomorrow, so we'll be going out.

Santos was killed the next day.

... Santos, who had been in Iraq for only five weeks before he was killed, left behind daily written entries and a video diary from Iraq. Boiko and filmmaker Laurel Spellman Smith are turning his words and footage into "The Corporal's Diary," the second piece of "The Corporal" trilogy. The final film will be called "The Corporal's Memory."
FIND OUT MORE

Boiko's Web site: www.winningpicturesllc.com (where you can find links to "The Corporal's Boots" information and to Jonathan's journal)

"Eyes Wide Open" exhibit: www.afsc.org/eyes/


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 8:34 PM PDT
Updated: Monday, 19 March 2007 9:13 PM PDT
Saturday, 17 March 2007

Topic: Remembrances

4th Anniversary Weekend

 MFSO Washington State Chapter Remembers 


 From Lietta:

A poem by my granddaughter, written when she was 11 yrs old, Aug 2003

on her parent's deployment to Iraq.  I have permission to publish her poem. 
 
 

Went to War 
       written by granddaughter Miranda, age 11, 
          August 2003 

A long time has passed 
feels like forever 
It was like you were there 
then vanished. 
 
I never really wanted you to go 
but life’s unfair 
and that I know 
 
Sometimes I wonder 
would these 7 months be the same if you were here? 
Mom’s always crying 
One by one with a tear. 
 
I know you’ll come back someday 
some time 
I wish it was now 
right now, 
then I’ll be fine 
 
We miss you a lot

 


Arlington National Cemetery


 

Artists' Renditions



VietNam Vet Memorial


VietNam Nurses Memorial 

Tricia A wrote:

Lietta-I don't know if this would even be appropriate, but I put together pictures from Dustin Sides (the first of 5 young Washington Marine's funerals that I attended in 2004) and a poem that I wrote.

If you wanted to use this, it would be fine.

You can find it here: 

Lance Cpl Dustin Sides

http://www.geocities.com/newestmmo/dustintribute.html?1087171771625




From Dustin Side's Services 


5 Washington Fallen Marines Remembered


PFC Cody S. Calavan


Staff Sgt. Marvin Best


Cpl Steven A. Rintanmaki


Lance Cpl Nathan Wood


Lance Cpl Kane M. Funke


I also have pictures from Nathan Wood's funeral, and pictures from the grave of Steven Rintamaki and Dennis Mitchell,2 other young Marines we lost. 

Let me know if you would like these-these young men should not be forgotten. The Woods never did support this war, and their son Nathan wrote home that he didnt even know why they were there, shortly before he died in Nov '04.

Hugs
Tricia
Proud WA mom of USMC Veteran Matthew and Airman Daniel


I wrote this poem sometime during the fall after the attacks on the towers.
- Arthur Ruger, MFSO Washington State Chapter
SEPTEMBER ELEVENTH
This dream of our Founders all around us and real
was fashioned and forged in rebellion's hot zeal.
With a fire born of need stoked by courage to spare
the Fathers laid groundwork where none else would dare.

In confronting a king, overcoming their fear
they birthed us a nation quite brave, free and clear.
With today's round of terror and national doubt
about safety with danger all laid round about,

were silence to reign with a whisper to hear
the sound would ring loudly in each person's ear.
A sound of the dream so successfully bought
would ring louder than worry by terror so fraught.

When ashes remain after towers are gone
with the bitterest dust and grey smoke in each dawn
tis the whisper of dreams held by patriots past
that binds us with hope and a will to outlast

all the hate and the weapons intended to scare
our strong blood and the spirit that we who might dare
to stand strong and united, our souls side by side
shedding tears, giving honor to those who have died.

In our moments of silence with heads bowed in prayer
tis the whisper of freedom that rings in the air.
We're a spiritual nation with all sorts of clothes
and a myriad of faiths by which God only knows

that we worship together, apart or alone
as a nation, a people, whose actions have sewn
up a fabric of caring and mourning our lost
but still holding together whatever the cost.

To extremists who think that their God harbors hate
we will answer with courage before it's too late
that a God who is good won't discern twixt His souls
and the paths which are taken by each in their roles

as believers and doubters in spiritual things
hearing only the goodness that each human sings.
Any god who is pleased at destruction of life
is a god full of falsehood; a father of strife

and a tyrant whose face shows an evil intent
while a bevy of fools think of how they've been sent
to the world to strike terror and fear of the sword
in the name of a falsehood who's nobody's lord.

There are names for the One who is holy and just
and the name matters little but moreso we must
offer worship by loving each other the same
and withhold adoration to a god full of shame
who exists not in Heaven but only in smoke
whose fanatics too foolish to know he's a joke
cause harm and destruction while seeking applause
from a world that's repelled by the stench of their cause.

The god of their making, so cruel and unkempt
deserves only disgust and our lasting contempt.
The dream of our Founders lives on in our hearts
and whispers its power throughout all the parts

of this land, of this continent -- even more, of this earth
that the will of our Fathers is given rebirth.
In our towns and our cities we're out to make claim
on our values, our people and sweet Liberty's Flame.

Arthur Ruger, Late Fall , 2001


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 11:08 AM PDT
Updated: Sunday, 18 March 2007 8:44 AM PDT
Friday, 16 March 2007

Now Playing: Look Back at the previous anniversaries
Topic: Remembrances

Looking Back 

 


 

 

March 20, 2006
 

Speech by MFSO Member Jenny Keesey in Port Angeles, Washington

Good Afternoon.  My name is Jenny Keesey.  I represent Military Families Speak Out. 

Tomorrow we enter our fourth year in Iraq.  Today we gather to raise our collective voice in opposition to a war that was based on lies and to oppose the policies that sent our troops into harms way for motives we will never fully know.   We gather to voice our outrage at a government that casts a blind eye and deaf ear toward the citizens of this country.  All across the nation, people are gathering – just as we are – to demand that our government bring our troops home now.  Not over the course of several years, not over the course of 12 months, but NOW.

For as long as I can remember, my son’s dream has been to be a soldier.  He announced this to me when he was five years old.  A few years later, he and his two best friends made a sacred pact that only nine-year-old boys can make.  They pledged that they would all join the military and be soldiers as soon as they were old enough.

Through the years, and sometimes across many miles, these three boys held fast to their pledge and their friendship to each other.  Our families have grown close because of the bond between these men.  Two of us are single Moms that wondered if we would ever survive raising teenage boys.  We shared in their joys, their not-so-wonderful moments, and now we (all three families) share the unease of the times.

 In 2002, two boys joined the Army and the other joined the Marines.  Today, one is in Fallujah, one is at Ft Hood, Texas awaiting deployment early next month to Baghdad, and one is scheduled to deploy early next year.  They have not second-guessed their decision to join the military.  They do not regret it.  All are proud to wear the uniform, and all understand much better than our leaders do the responsibilities that go along with wearing the uniform.

They carry the pride of their accomplishments and their newfound self-respect like a badge of honor.  Before he left for his duty station, I asked my son just what it was that made him want to join the military.  He assured me that he didn’t join for the college money, he didn’t join for the medical benefits, and he didn’t join to see the world, although seeing the world, he said, was a great bonus.  He simply said it was what he was meant to do.  It was that clear-cut.

I respect my son.  I respect all three of these boys.  But, I do not respect this war or the people who took us there. 

The arrogance of our leaders resulted in the squandering of any goodwill the world felt for us before the war began.  When I speak of leaders, I mean all of our leaders, from the Oval Office to the Senate to the House of Representatives.  Where we - as a nation and as a people - are at this moment, is a result of a meltdown that spans political parties and all branches of government.   While we were lied to by one branch of the government, the other branch stood silently by while our troops were sent into harms way without a plan to succeed and without the equipment they needed to be safe.

For those of us at home who questioned or criticized our government, we were labeled as unpatriotic – un-American.  Over the course of the past three years, it has been drummed into our heads, through hate radio and special interest TV media, that this is a fearful time to be an American.  I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of living in fear.  I’m tired of being told how I am supposed to think and what I’m supposed to fear.  I can tell you that it is not the fear of terrorists that keeps me up at night.  It is the fear of knowing my boys are fighting for a lie and that my government is in a horrible downward spiral.  

We cannot demand the freedoms of our Constitution if we are not willing to stand up and voice our opposition when our leaders take us down the wrong path.   I would like to read to you a statement made by conservative Ohio Senator Robert Taft.   He said, “ As a matter of general principle, I believe there can be no doubt that criticism in time of war is essential to the maintenance of any kind of democratic government.  Too many people desire to suppress criticism simply because they think that it will give some comfort to the enemy to know that there is such criticism.  If that comfort makes the enemy feel better for a few moments, they are welcome to it as far as I am concerned, because the maintenance of the right of criticism in the long run will do the country maintaining it a great deal more good than it will do the enemy, and will prevent mistakes which might otherwise occur.”  Senator Taft made this statement just a few short days after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

A recent survey revealed that 72% of military personnel believe that it is time to leave Iraq. 

A recent Gallup Poll survey has revealed that 51% of Americans now believe that we were lied to about weapons of mass destruction. 

67% are now convinced that there is not a clear plan for Iraq. 

When asked how Americans felt it was going in Iraq 60% of those polled stated that it is going badly. 

Finally, when asked if going into Iraq was a mistake 57% of those surveyed said that it was.

It is our duty to hold our elected officials accountable.  More importantly it is our responsibility – no, it’s our obligation - to our soldiers.   They need us to do that now more than ever.   They need us to stand up for them as they would stand up for us.  We must get them home now and take care of them when they get here.  Not one more dime should be spent for the sake of killing.  Not one more life should be lost.  The cost of losing a loved one is too much to ask of our families.  Putting their lives on the line for a cause that has been nothing more than a lie is too much to ask of our soldiers. 

It’s time to bring them home. 

It’s time for our country to heal.


Community marches against war

 

M. ALEXANDER OTTO; The News Tribune
Published: March 20th, 2006 01:00 AM

 

 

About 1,000 people rallied Sunday in Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood to protest the Iraq war on the third anniversary of its beginning.

Church leaders, labor groups, soldiers, longshoreman, veterans, military families, politicians, professors, and others joined in opposition to the war with a march from People’s Park to People’s Center.

With speeches, signs, and discussions, they made their points: The Bush Administration misled the country into a needless war with false data about Iraq being a terrorist threat; the conflict is being funded by cutting essential education, housing and health care programs; and the war is unwinnable and should end as soon as possible.

Signs and buttons carried slogans like “think outside the Fox, impeach Bush,” “ignorance isn’t patriotic” and “support our troops … bring ’em home.” No one was there to argue the other side of the issue.

The demonstrators held several moments of silence for U.S. soldiers and others killed in the conflict.

 

Joe Colgan, of Kent, said his son, Army 2nd Lt. Benjamin J. Colgan, was killed by a roadside bomb in Baghdad in November of 2003 while serving in an artillery unit.

After what’s come out about the conflict, he said, the fact that more people aren’t protesting “drives me nuts.”

Lietta Ruger, whose son-in-law and nephew, both 28, are in the Army and facing additional time in Iraq, said she hoped her efforts would prevent other families from feeling the uncertainty and pain of having loved ones in Iraq.

An Iraq war veteran took the stage with her.

“I did nothing positive in Iraq,” said Joshua Farris, 24, who said he served as an Army cavalry scout during the war’s first six months.

Referring to the protest, he said, “This is the right side of it.”

State Rep. Jeannie Darnielle, D-Tacoma, read a litany of complaints about the Bush administration’s conduct of the war: “Convincing us Saddam was linked to 9/11 was wrong! Denying civil war is imminent is wrong!” she said to cheers.

“Every American is contributing at least $1,500 per person per year” to the war effort, said Warren Freeman, pastor at Allen African Methodist Episcopal Church in Tacoma and Associated Ministries board member. “Too much money is being spent on the war, and not enough on health care, education, and housing.”

The protest was sponsored by Associated Ministries, the Church Council of Greater Seattle and United for Peace in Pierce County.

Laura Karlin, who helps operate Tacoma Catholic Worker’s hospitality house in Hilltop, said, “this is our neighborhood, and this is where we are seeing the program cuts, especially in low-income housing, shelter, and health care.” 


 2nd Anniversary: 2005

Thousands rally to protest Iraq war

Seattle Times staff reporter

 

As military families go, Lietta Ruger said, she is as red, white and blue as any proud mother.

But how could she reconcile her loyalty to the armed forces with her disdain for the Iraq war?

For months, she kept silent — until her son-in law faced mortar attacks every night at his Baghdad compound. That's when the Episcopal preacher in her came out.

Ruger, 53, of Bay Center, Pacific County, spoke out against the war on PBS' "The NewsHour" with Jim Lehrer last fall and to her congregation at St. John's Episcopal Church in South Bend, Pacific County.

And again yesterday: On the second anniversary of the start of the Iraq war, she gave an impassioned speech explaining why she believes the war in Iraq is unjust, before a crowd of anti-war protesters at Seattle Center. Organizers put the number of participants at 5,000.

The Seattle protest, put together by the Church Council of Greater Seattle, Washington State Jobs with Justice and Sound Nonviolent Opponents of War, was part of a worldwide movement designed to place pressure on the military and get attention from Washington, D.C.

 


ALAN BERNER / THE SEATTLE TIMES. Anti-war protesters at Seattle Center keep dry under a giant spine, part of the "Backbone Campaign" encouraging voters and politicians to show courage in opposing the U.S. war policy. From left: Fiona Smith, Jayson Radmer, his brother Zach, Sandy Oellien and Andy Royer (on cellphone).

 

 More than 700 marches, rallies, peace vigils and protests were held in communities from California to Illinois to New York, twice the number as last year, according to national organizers.

Thousands joined similar protests in European cities — 45,000 in London, according to The Associated Press. On both sides of the Atlantic, the protests were passionate but largely peaceful. Seattle police made no arrests.

In Seattle, Ruger, whose son-in-law and nephew are about to serve their second tour in Iraq, and who herself was raised in a military family, addressed the crowd knowing that "a lot of military [families] are not very happy with my message."

But, she said, "You should not let someone else define patriotism for you."

After the rally, the crowd marched in the rain from Seattle Center to Westlake Park and back. Several groups of students and political activists who had rallied elsewhere earlier in the day joined in the 90-minute march.

Among the marchers were church groups, labor unions and campus clubs, veterans and military spouses, organizers said.

There were protesters such as retired Lt. John Oliveira, 39, of Darrington, who told the Seattle Center crowd that he resigned from the Navy last year because he didn't want to continue pitching a war he didn't believe in.

 

ALAN BERNER / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Lietta Ruger, who addressed the anti-war gathering yesterday at Seattle Center, places a pin on her husband, Arthur

 

 

 

 

Two years ago, Oliveira said, he looked into the cameras of several television networks and "sold this war as a war on terrorism, removing weapons of mass destruction and the Iraqi nuclear threat.

"Well, we have found out that that was the biggest lie ever perpetrated on the American people," he said.

Ruger feels more at peace now that she is expressing her displeasure over the war and what it is doing to her family, she said. While her son-in-law served 15 months in Iraq, she had to console her daughter and help out by baby-sitting her three grandchildren.

Ruger declined to give her son-in-law's name but said "He will do his mission, but his preference is to be home." He is a 25-year old Army sergeant. "If I could do it, I would go in his place," she said.

The woman who once stayed silent now lobbies Olympia lawmakers to get the Washington National Guard out of Iraq and has joined a military-family group against the war.

Ruger, who grew up on a military base in Japan and 11 years ago married a Vietnam veteran, Arthur Ruger, 57, said, "I have absolute pride in the military."

Her husband also gave the crowd some advice: "You can be against the war, you can disagree with Bush and still be a patriot."

Information in this report about other anti-war protests came from the Washington Post, The New York Times and The Associated Press.

 


 "But the White House does care, very much, when members of the military and of military families start speaking out.

By far the most powerful speaker at Saturday's rally was a Pacific County woman, Lietta Ruger, who has a son-in-law and nephew about to serve their second tours of duty in Iraq. Hers is a military family; she is middle-aged, patriotic, and able to cast the risks and costs of Iraq in starkly personal terms.

In a word, she has credibility that those of us without personal links to the struggle in Iraq do not have."
- Geov Parrish, CommonDreams.org: Antiwar Activism: Closing the Credibility Gap


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PDT
Updated: Saturday, 17 March 2007 2:41 PM PDT
Thursday, 15 March 2007

Now Playing: Lietta Ruger at Washblog
Topic: Members Speak Out

So Congress will you Fund or De-Fund the Iraq War? Supplemental Appropriations Bill Begins Today

When you phone today to discuss and urge our Representative Congress to action; below is a list of some of the concerns you are likely to hear from the Staffers who will likely be taking your phone calls.

Please call the Capitol switchboard (ask for the office of your Representative) at  800-828-0498, 800-459-1887 or 800-614-2803 as often as you can between now and when they vote on the House Supplemental Appropriations bill next week. Tell your Congressional Representative about your personal connection to this war, and how important it is that they act now to use their 'power of the purse' to end the funding that will allow this unjustifiable war to continue.

The House Supplemental Appropriations Bill: "U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans' Health and Iraq Accountability Act" . The below talking points cover why Military Families Speak Out is urging a "No" vote on this bill:

read more below the fold

 

  • President Bush submitted his supplemental budget request to Congress in February, 2007 for approximately $93 billion to continue the war in Iraq.

     

  • The House Leadership, headed by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, crafted this supplemental budget request into a funding bill that will most likely be voted on in the Defense Appropriations Committee on Thursday, March 15 and come before the full House of Representatives sometime during the week of March 19. March 19 th is the 4 th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq

     

  • The House Supplemental Appropriations Bill as written would give funds to President Bush to continue the war in Iraq.

     

  • The House Leadership is trying to get all Members of Congress who oppose the war in Iraq to support this House Supplemental Appropriations Bill, which they named the "U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans' Health and Iraq Accountability Act". They claim it has the following provisions which are supposed to support our troops and bring about the end of the war in Iraq, but their claims are not supported by the facts:

     

Claim: Troop Readiness Requirements: no funds can be appropriated to deploy any unit of the Armed Forces to Iraq unless the unit is fully trained, equipped and "mission capable"
Reality: The bill includes a provision that allows the President to waive troop readiness requirements

Claim: No Extended Deployments: no funds can be appropriated for extending the deployment of the Army, National Guard or Reserves beyond a 365-day deployment, or a Marine unit beyond a 210-day deployment
Reality: The bill includes a provision that allows the President to waive the prohibition on extended deployments

Claim: Rest Period Between Deployments: no funds can be appropriated for deploying any Army unit that has been deployed within the previous 365 consecutive days, or an Marine unit that has been deployed within the previous 210 consecutive days
Reality: The bill includes a provision that allows the President to waive the specified rest periods between deployments

Claim: Requirements for Iraqi Government Progress: if the Iraqi government isn't making substantial progress by October 1, 2007 and again by March 1,2008 in making the country secure, democratic and reducing sectarian violence, the Secretary of Defense shall commence the redeployment of the Armed Forces from Iraq within 180 days.
Reality: The bill allows the President to unilaterally certify "Iraqi Government Progress"

Claim: Date Certain for U.S. Withdrawal from Iraq: combat troops out of Iraq by August, 2008 at the latest
Reality: With three U.S troops dying each day the war continues, August, 2008 is not an acceptable deadline for withdrawal of US troops. It is not bringing our troops home now. Furthermore, the bill allows U.S. troops to remain in Iraq after the August, 2008 withdrawal date if they are "engaging in targeted special actions limited in duration and scope to killing or capturing members of al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations with global reach" [note: the
terms "limited in duration and scope" are undefined in the bill]; and/or if they are "training members of the Iraqi Security Forces". This provision could be used to keep tens of thousands of U.S. troops in Iraq for years
to come.

 

  • The House Supplemental Appropriations bill as written would allow thousands of additional US troops and untold numbers of Iraqis to die before the U.S. occupation of Iraq is ended.

     

  • The Supplemental Appropriations bill as written is really about positioning the Democrats for the 2008 election, not about bringing our troops home quickly and safely.

     

  • It is wonderful that the House Leadership is putting more funds than the President asked for, specifically targeted toward military and Veteran's health care. However, by providing the funds to continue the war in Iraq, they are ensuring that there will be thousands more troops whose lives will be damaged or destroyed, who will be wounded, who will return with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, who will be at risk of long-term health problems from exposure to Depleted Uranium.

     

  • It appears that many in Congress, including self-described "anti-war" Members of Congress, feel the need to vote for the House Supplemental Appropriations bill in order to deflect charges from Vice President Dick Cheney and others that they are not "supporting the troops". These Members of Congress seem more afraid of a newspaper headline than they are about the reality that three U.S. troops and countless Iraqi children, women and men are dying each day this war continues.

     

  • As military and Gold Star families, no one is more concerned about the safety and well-being of our troops than we are. It has been our sons, daughters, husbands,wives, brothers, sisters, fiancés, partners, grandchildren, cousins, nieces, nephews,mothers and fathers on the front lines of this war; our loved ones who have and are paying the price for it.

     

  • We know the President's supplemental budget request is not about providing funding for our troops - he is seeking funding to continue this war that is so damaging to our loved ones and all of our troops.

     

  • The most important thing Members of Congress can do to protect those who swore an oath to protect us all, is to vote against the House Supplemental Appropriations bill that will provide President Bush with funding to continue the war in Iraq.

     

  • As military families, we have learned that there are funds available to bring our troops out quickly and safely. If more is needed, funds from the Department of Defense budget could be re-programmed for this purpose.

     

  • Congress needs to understand that by continuing to fund this war, and leaving our loved ones in Iraq, they are abandoning them.

     

  • Congress can not both oppose and fund this war.

     

  • Members of Congress may be afraid for their political futures, and afraid of being "swift-boated" if they were to vote to de-fund the war. We are afraid for the lives of our loved ones. We are afraid that if we are lucky enough to get our loved ones home, they will return with wounds both physical and psychological. We are afraid that our loved ones who return will never be the loved ones we knew before they deployed.

     

  • The Constitution gave Congress the `power of the purse' for a reason. The unjustifiable war in Iraq is just such a reason. President Bush is not going to end this war. It's up to Congress to bring this misbegotten war to an end.

     

  • It is time for Members of Congress to support our troops by voting against the funds that allow this war to continue.

     

  • To Members of Congress we say: if you vote to continue funding the war in Iraq, it will no longer be President Bush's war. It will be yours. If you fund it, you've bought it and you own it. And we will remember.

     

  • We are asking Congress now to show the courage and leadership that our loved ones have shown when they signed up to defend the Constitution of the United States.

     

  • Ending this war is the right thing to do. And Congress can make this happen. We call on Congress now -- Don't abandon our troops! De-fund this war!

     

Note: Information about the "Barbara Lee Amendment": Congresswoman Barbara Lee has put forward an amendment to the Supplemental Appropriation bill that would limit the use of the appropriated funds to spending for a fully-funded safe and orderly withdrawal of US troops from Iraq. It would further set a firm deadline for withdrawal of December 31, 2007. As we write these MFSO Talking Points, there is uncertainty about whether or not Congresswoman Lee's amendment to the House Supplemental Appropriations bill will be allowed to be put forward in the House Appropriations Committee deliberation of the measure on Thursday, March 15 on the House floor when the measure comes to the full House of Representatives next week (the week of March 19).

While it would be wonderful to have this amendment to the House Appropriatons bill be introduced, accepted and become part of the bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, there is little chance of this happening. Therefore, the core message Members of Congress need to hear now is: Support our troops, de-fund the war, and vote against any funds for continuing the U.S. military occupation of Iraq.


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PDT

Now Playing: Jesse Archibald
Topic: Members Speak Out

not demonstrating the courage to stand up and stop the war the only realistic way Congress can

 

Dear MFSO Members,

 Today I called Nancy Pelosi and left a message with her staff member who answered the phone in her Washington D.C. office.  I was inspired to call by an e-mail from another peace activist group, CODE PINK.  The e-mail echoed my own feelings.    

 

In November, voters sent a resounding message to Congress about our feelings about this war.  We voted to have the Democrats take control so we could end this senseless war where we military families are the ones suffering the losses and casualties more than any other Americans.  

I told the staff member that I was deeply disappointed that Nancy Pelosi was not demonstrating the courage to stand up and stop the war the only realistic way Congress can:    by cutting the funding for all war efforts except those funds needed to bring our troops home safely NOW.

When I called Ms. Pelosi's office, I identified myself as a MFSO member and urged her to vote against funding the war, except for those funds to bring our troops safely home immediately, not sometime next year or the year after.

 I was rather dismayed to see the below headline today:

 "Clinton Sees Some Troops Staying in Iraq if She Is Elected"

  I will not be voting for Hilary Clinton!   When will our representatives get the message?  When will they have courage to take the step of cutting off funding to end this war?

 As a MFSO member, I have a deep respect for military families and understand what it is like to have a loved one in harm's way.  Our troops on the ground have done everything they have been ordered to and have shown tremendous courage.  It is their commanders at the highest level that have failed them.  

My heart goes out to those families that have been through multiple deployments.  My family will go through another deployment starting in January 08.  I do not know how I will get through it again.  I began to cope with the last deployment be becoming active in MFSO.

 Welcome new MFSO members!   We are here for you and would love to hear your stories and will respect your privacy.

 Each and every day, I like to think that I have taken some small step to end this war, even if it only means that I picked up the telephone or wrote a letter to my state representative.  

If anyone else feels like calling Nancy Pelosi and telling her how they feel about the Democrats lack of action, here is a paragraph pasted from the CODEPINK e-mail:

 Call 202-225-0100 for her office in DC.and ask for Mike Sheehy, or call (415)-556-4862 for her San Francisco office and ask for Dan Bernal. Tell them that the Speaker should cut off all funds for the war, or at the very least allow a vote on Cong. Barbara Lee's amendment to only use the funds for a safe withdrawal of the U.S. troops by the end of the year. And don't allow Bush to attack Iran! Don't forget to also call your own Representative to tell him or her to Vote NO on the supplemental appropriations. The Congressional switchboard can be reached at 888.851.1879.


 Sincerely,
 Jessie Archibald


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PDT
Saturday, 10 March 2007

Now Playing: Lietta Ruger at Washblog
Topic: Members Speak Out

Iraq Messages this week - a General, A Military Mom, A Congressman, A Military Wife, A Journalist...

My mind is swimming today with the differences in messages and approaches of so many earnest people endeavoring to try to end Iraq war.

  • Retired Major General Paul D Eaton, Fox Island, WA, speaks from Seattle last night on Real Time with Bill Maher about conditions of Walter Reed being the 'tip of the iceberg';
  • Representative David Obey (D- WS) recorded on video Thursday losing patience with questions from Tina Richards, mother to Cpl Cloy Richards, returning Iraq Marine veteran, twice deployed to Iraq, soon to deploy for third time. MSN, Chris Matthews interviews Tina Richards Thursday on Hardball.
  •  Bob Woodruff, injured in IED explosion ABC journalist 'To Iraq and Back' and his wife are interviewed Friday on MSN Hardball with Chris Matthews.
  • Two of the arrested Port of Tacoma protesters are inteviewed on Fox News Hannity and Colmes.
  • Op-ed published this week by a Washington based military wife, Stacy Bannerman married to WA Natl Guardsman, himself a returning Iraq veteran. Stacy tells of the casualty of marriages in military families faced with multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, including her own.  
Different kinds of messages from  different military-connected people with 'skin in the game' - a phrase for being in Iraq or having loved ones in Iraq. Different routes up the same mountain. But are the roads overlapping, perhaps tangling up the effort and the message - are some routes leading to dead ends?  

-- video - HBO - Real Time, Bill Maher. Retired Major General, Paul D. Eaton, Fox Island, WA, speaks on the conditions of Walter Reed as the 'tip of the iceberg'. Paul Eaton was in charge of training the Iraqi military from 2003 to 2004. He is speaking to Bill Maher via satellite with the Space Needle and Seattle skyline in the background.  He says an interesting thing  on the Real Time show last night and I have to admit, it took me by surprise, so when Bill Maher repeated it, I knew I had heard what I thought I heard.  Quoting excerpt of end of one of his sentences

'arrival of Democratic controlled Congress, Thank God, 7 November'.
  Bill Maher responds that it is not often you hear military people say arrival of the Democrats and Thank God in the same sentence.

See retired Major General, Paul Eaton, Fox Island, WA companion piece, NY Times Op-Ed, 'Casualties of the Budget Wars' published this week. You may recall also as reported by NY Times last year in April 2006, Paul Eaton was among the six Generals calling for Rumsfeld resignation - link .

-- link video - MSN - Hardball,Chris Matthews.  Tina Richards, mother of Iraq veteran Marine son, twice deployed and will deploy third time March this year. Her encounter with Representative David Obey (D- WS). Tina was representing Grassroots Missouri on Hardball yesterday.  She is also a member of Military Families Speak Out, although it sounds like she is taking action as an independent military family on behalf of her son's upcoming third deployment to Iraq.  

-- link video -  MSN - Hardball, Chris Matthews. Bob Woodruff and his wife interviewed on Bob's recovery from Brain Trauma Injury. Bob Woodruff ABC journalist who was severely wounded Jan 2006 in IED explosion while covering Iraq. (My note - reference another Washblog story I wrote on Bob Woodruff in the special ,'To Iraq and Back' )

-- link video - Fox News - Hannity and Colmes.  Two arrested at Port of Tacoma protesting the loading and shipping of Stryker equipment destined for Iraq. See Noemie story at Washblog as she endeavors to explore the Port of Tacoma protests.  

-- An op- ed by a published auther and military wife of Washington state National Guardsman, Stacy Bannerman wrote an op-ed March 7, courageously sharing with the public the breakdown of her marriage as a direct result, she says, of war in Iraq. Link 60,000 Marriages Broken by Iraq, Including Mine, read through the comments and you can feel the tone of empathy (or lack of empathy) which military families generally encounter. Some of the comments are the usual of what we as military families have been hearing for the past four years now (and we heard it in Vietnam era too), but some of the comments are from peace/activist people who can be equally harsh in their comments. (I find this happens as well in the comments to Daily Kos stories)

She was prompted by the comments to write another op-ed, also published at Alternet March 10, 2007  link 'Volunteer Soldiers Devastated by Iraq Weren't Asking for It'.   Stacy phoned me this week to pass along a request she had received for military family to speak at a Seattle area church for 4th anniversary event.  She passed it along to me for consideration of Military Families Speak Out - WA chapter to determine if one of our member families was willing to speak.  

That led me to share some thoughts with Stacy about how I am feeling more uncomfortable with  the relationship of military families and the  peace/activist movement/communities.  As I explained to her,  I can't tell if my growing discomfort, some of what has felt like exploitive experiences, is coloring my perspective.  I am disinclined to want to participate in any of the 4th anniversary acknowledgement events being planned in Washington this month.  I'm not so sure that the message I carry is best represented within the context of the planned events. I'm not sure it doesn't feel a bit like being a willing mouthpiece puppet for messaging that does not entirely reflect my own thoughts and message.

Sometimes, I shared with her, it feels like I am pressed hard from both sides - the right wingers rhetoric, and the peace/activist movement rhetoric. She, a long time peace activist, shared with me that until she herself became a military wife, she would have had a hard time understanding the viewpoint of military culture.  It helped me to hear her say that, because it reminds me to continue to try to be patient and not grow impatient at what feels like the disconnect I sometimes feel with the peace/activist communities.  

 Of late, I'm not liking the direction of what I'm hearing from some peace/activists who point the finger at the soliders who do deploy.  It sounds a lot like the residue of Vietnam to me - blaming the soldiers for a) going,  b) for not putting down their weapons, c) for not refusing to go in the first place.   I have actually heard someone say to me  when I asked what you would have the soldiers already in Iraq do and the response was that they should put down their weapons.  "While they are in Iraq," I asked, "they should put down their weapons?"  I'd say there is a real disconnect happening that is unrealistic in this kind of discourse.

I received a phone call this week from a woman who invited me to show my oil paintings on an art show offered by Comcast TV channel in Puyallup. She came across one of my oil paintings on our MFSO chapter website .  (That is the result of the pride of my husband who felt a photo of one of my oil paintings should be part of my profile info).  As I explored this with her, confused because of the contact via MFSO website, she shared with me that her husband is a Vietnam veteran, who experienced the homecoming of having red paint poured on him and being spit upon by the peaceniks there to greet him.  

This was astonishing to me because I know there is a published book, Spitting Image: Myth, Memory, and the Legacy of Vietnam, indicating that this spitting on the returning Vietnam veterans never happened, is a myth, and can't be validated by first hand accounts.  I asked her if she knew of this book.  She did not, but she says her husband knows his own experience, and he might like to know about this book as he could offer direct first hand experience.  He was not a protesting anti-war veteran. I know many Vietnam veterans reference the 'spit upon' as symbolic and indicative of how they were welcomed home as opposed to actual first hand experience.  But as I shared with her, I well remember my own experience then, and the climate was not welcoming or conducive to my sharing that my husband was a returning veteran from Vietnam.  We expected an unwelcome response so we shut it down in public venues and talked about it only among some of our friends - friends from high school who found themselves in Vietnam at the same time.

If the leftover ideals of the 60s protesting era are being revived and used again as rhetoric and talking points among peace/activist communities and directed at soldiers and military families,  then I contend this is a disservice to those of us contending daily with this war.  I'd like to think it is the few and not the general tone of the peace/activist communities, but my experiences tell me otherwise.      

I don't know what the best course is to trying to end this war and getting our troops home, all the while ensuring they are not without the equipment they need while they are in Iraq; not to mention the medical services they will need, likely long term.  A hard-wired mantra for me is that we (America) don't abandon our troops in the field and leave them with a shortfall of funding which translates to equipment and medical care. This is very real for me.

Another hard wired mantra for me is the experience of Vietnam. I'm still learning nuances - 35 years later - of what went into that era and what brought that war to an end, even though I actually lived in that time as a military wife. It doesn't seem to be any more clear cut now than it was then.  

There are those who say it took the soldiers themselves protesting to bring it to an end (do see the dvd Sir, No Sir).  There are those who say it was the massive protests, the college students, the violence against the protesters (ie, Kent State) and that without the 'movement' in place, the soldiers would not have had the support in place to launch their own protests.  There are those who say it took politicians umpteen tries politically to bring it to a close; that the work of politics is a slow moving mechanism - taking years and years sometimes.  

As near as I can tell, the stew of ingredients that finally brought Vietnam war to a close was a combination of many social, political, economic elements.  It took a combination of ongoing public protests, increasing pressure on Congress, having the soldiers themselves refuse to continue to participate in Vietman war, the condition of the 'draft' = widely sweeping to affect all draft age males pressing them into involuntary military deployments, and the element of the 'unknown' as it was not expected that soldiers would find so many ways to refuse to participate.

What is different this time with Iraq is that this Administration - please don't forget this fact - was also there at the time of Vietnam.    Rumsfeld, Cheney, George W. Bush, Wolfowitz, Perle, all had direct experience of the political climate of Vietnam. I would say they learned how  to 'contain' the imaging, message, and narrative we are given about Iraq from what they learned about Vietnam.  I would offer as well that there continues to be the kaleidoscope of the techniques of misdirection that keeps many of us off center and sometimes without firm ground as we try to dissect what is really going on.  

Is Jack Murtha on track then?  He has a strategy of redeploying the troops out of Iraq and leaving some of the troops on the horizon.  How about his recent suggestions to ensure troops are given opportunities of full training, recuperative one year between deployments as a kind of back door approach to stemming the flow of 'volunteer' troops who are kept in combat via back door draft of stop loss extended deployments?

Is what Representative Dave Obey (D- WS)shared with Tina Richards on the mark?  Is it accurate that Democratic party cannot get the required 233 votes on their proposed non-binding Resolutions?  Is it true that even should they be able to get Resolution passed it could be vetoed by President?  Is it true that the appropriation funding is needed to provide for the already deployed troops, get them fully back home safely and provide for their medical care?  Is there a political way in which the Iraq war can be made to be an illegal war and therfore illegal to fund, as Rep. Obey seemed to suggest in the exchange with mother, Tina Richards?  

Or is it true what Representative Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) indicates as enough funding already in the pipeline to safely bring the troops home now, and that additional funding is not necessary to get them home, rather that additional funding perpetuates and continues the war in Iraq?   That a vote now not to fund is not a vote against the troops and will not impede getting them home safely; will not abandon them in the field.

Is the Democratic party in the majority now working on a plan or several plans to actually find an effective way to end the war in Iraq, which they know is an immoral and probably an illegal war?  

What about the voices and messages, ie, General Wesley Clark, that express grave concerns about the U.S. military action expanding to Iran?

I'm not at all sure on this fourth anniversary of the Iraq war what message I want to be sending and how to best symbolize and represent that message.  
I want the politicians to do their jobs and bring this war to an end yesterday. I want to give them the space they need to do their jobs but each day  of delay represents so so many deaths. A sense of urgency presses military families as their loved ones deploy over and over again into an ill-defined mission.  When I speak of concern for our own loved ones and our troops, the focus is not limited strictly to our troops as that is too narrow - hundreds of Iraqis also are killed daily.  I think of another Washingtonian, Bert Sacks, of Seattle and his own individual courage in trying to help Iraqi children.

What of General Casy who seemed to be warning us all of the impending 'long war' against 'terrorism' in the Middle East?  When a military General says 'long war', my ears perk up and I ask myself if I am hearing the nuanced statement to the public of a General's  assessment that this will be a decades-long war.  Where will the troops come from to continue a decades long war with recruitment numbers down and fewer willing to enlist in what they have come to recognize as a questionable war?  Will the two in my family be serving deployment after deployment over the next decade?  How is this going to impact their wives and children?  

How can the former code of the military that goes down through the generations telling the new crop of soldiers and their families to 'suck it up' possibly relate to the experience of so many repeat deployments?  That is not in their experience, so how can they know to give advice of that nature?  It is the new crop that have the message in this war, and we aren't yet hearing from them.  

We hear from some, those who find peace/activist communities that give them a platform to be heard.  I rather think though that there are many more who are very perplexed, dissatisfied,confused and wanting to share their own message but not ready to swing that far away from their clan in speaking out quite so radically.  Often I ask myself, isn't there a kind of middle ground that permits one to have both conservative and liberal views - does it have to be one way or the other?  Where are those people, and where is their platform, what venues are provided for them?

Maybe it all flows together in ways I can no longer easily detect and maybe we all do get to the mountain top by different routes. Maybe there is room for all the divergent viewpoints, approaches, strategies and tactics.  Right now I'm having a hard time seeing the forest for the trees - I think - but I know my intentions are honorable.  Aren't they all - the intentions of all who take on this struggle?  


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PST
Updated: Sunday, 18 March 2007 10:59 AM PDT
Friday, 9 March 2007

Now Playing: Arthur Ruger
Topic: Take Care of Them

Chopped liver at Walter Reed. I'm a Veteran before I'm a Democrat

While everybody is being important, talking wise talk, trying to stop surges, the Walter Reed scandal shows just who is really chopped liver on the political priority list.

From: Patty Murray's
Official Website
Veterans

The Challenge

"I made a promise to myself after volunteering at the Seattle veterans hospital during the Vietnam War that I would do everything I could to help those individuals who sacrificed for our country. Now that I'm in a position to really make a difference, I will continue to make sure veterans get the services and benefits they deserve."

I like and support Senator Patty Murray. But I'm a Vet FIRST and a voter who campaigned for Democrats last year second. We must get behind Senators Murray, Mikulski and all their Congressional colleagues and support, push and keep their feet to the fire. These leaders laboring on our behalf have thoroughly embarrassed and humiliated  each and every citizen of this country when it comes to supporting the troops truthfully and with action.

 

For Immediate Release, Tuesday, February 20, 2007(Washington, D.C.) - Today, U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) wrote to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, urging him to launch an Inspector General's investigation of the deplorable living conditions facing returning Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans at the Army's flagship military hospital, Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

Isn't that nice?

The treatment of our injured returning Iraq veterans by the citizens of the United States of America is absolutely and unequivocally a profound embarrassment.  

Never mind that we are not individually guilty of direct behavioral mistreatment of this precious American blood. Most of us don't spit on our soldiers, give them the finger or call them war criminals. But civically speaking, we're as guilty as if we had.

Those annointed to take care of our returning veterans  vicariously for each of us - doing for us what we presumably would do if we were there greeting and treating each veteran in person - have shamed us.

 



Photo from  washingtonpost.com

Photos: The Wounded and Walter Reed
Five and a half years of sustained combat have transformed the venerable 113-acre Walter Reed Army Medical Center into a holding ground for physically and psychologically damaged outpatients.

I don't want to hear about the fact that staff at Walter Reed and the VA are overworked, not totally responsible and not the real culprits.

I know that and you know that. But we just don't ho-hum and walk away from a house fire because the tenants did not start the fire.

We put the damn thing out immediately - any way we can. And we don't care if the G-D landlord doesn't like it or not. He's hurting our national community. We'll put out the fire as quick as we can, then we'll go take it up with the landlord and make him pay.



As soon as I heard this story, I looked up our two Senators to see ever either or both served on Senate committees connected to veterans. I found and I read ... and remembered when Patty was pulling out all stops in her campaign against Nethercut.

I remember Patty and an array of Democratic Senators including those who consider themselves presidential material all talking the talk but walking the slow walk when it comes to applying a compress to our national bleeding.  

Democrat or Republican, I don't care who, but DON'T send a staffer down to Walter Reed to eyeball anything ... go down there YOURSELF - right now!

And don't insult our sense of urgency any further.  Now is not the time to listen to Democratic Committee chairpersons and senior members blab about sending staffers out to inspect the damage so they can propose legislation to "prevent such a thing from happening again."

What a crock .... what a cliche .... what a political philosophy that even now transparently reveals an inability to take a firm stand. That's why troops are still over there in harms way, living, surviving, dying or returning half of what they were when they left. Nobody took a firm stand and everybody pretended that it is a wise thing to  support keeping the troops there "cause we broke it and own it."

Nonsense ... we broke it when Iraqis didn't want us to break it. We keep trying to super glue the pieces back together and breaking more Iraqi things in the process.

They just want us to leave.

We need to leave.

But like a mean and clumsy drunk trying to make things right while still drunk, we're only making it worse.

And don't let any Senator, Representative or PR hack tell you otherwise.

In recent years Republican senators and representatives and a few irresponsible Lieberman Democrats have shamed every American citizen regarding the War, the Surge and really truly caring about what happens to our Active Service and Veteran soldiers.

Remember in Planet of the Apes when the gorillas in charge have Charlton Heston in a cage and are hosing the hell out of him.

He shouts, "IT'S A MADHOUSE!"

Well, welcome to our flight over the Cuckoo's Nest.

Note how currently Senator McCain has become a national Veteran embarrassment, shamefully toadying to the religious right and attempting to say whatever it takes to get the lame-duck republican machine behind his efforts to take Dubya's place.

Note how there is no high-falutin foreign policy or statesmanlike-wisdom that justifies the nation's amateur strategists' continually pouring American bodies into the meat grinder that has become the worst American foreign policy and military blunder in history.

Note that Democracy Now interviewed the Iraqi who leaked the Oil Plan and that interview is worth reading or listening to so you can hear a knowledgeable Iraqi confirm our worst fears about losing loved ones over oil.

Note that Stan Goff wrote two blazing op-ed a few weeks ago about that surge and what is behind it.

Note that today Condoleeza Rice sounded like a first-year-out-of-diplomacy-graduate-school debutante giving an incredibly light-weight performance as she closed out her Israel visit with meaningless Republican foreign policy blather.

Note that a Federal appeals court re-affirmed last year's traitorous Republican legislation denying habeas corpus.

Note that Dick Cheney is in Japan presumably acting on behalf of America's foreign policy interests and soldiers, trying to drum up more foreign troops into Iraq. But he isn't going to talk to the Japan Foreign Minister who called the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq a mistake.

Note how those who got us into this mess are absolutely diplomatic, political and governing amateurs; absolutely nuts and in immediate need of neutering.

Is there ANYBODY responsible holding the reins of government in any branch?

Would someone please step forward - and if you can do nothing more - piss on the flames?


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PST

Newer | Latest | Older


Criticism of the President is Patriotic

"The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the nation as a whole. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly as necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile.

"To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else.

But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else."

Theodore Roosevelt, 1918, Lincoln and Free Speech