Military Families Speak Out Washington State Chapter

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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.
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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.


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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
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4 Oct, 04 > 10 Oct, 04

Sunday, 13 May 2007
Memorial Day Holiday; Days of Self-Examination
Topic: Remembrances

Link:  Veteran says Memorial Day not a day of celebration, rather a day of self examination

excerpts:
“On Memorial Day, and all these holidays where we take a few seconds out and pause, I don’t think they’re days of celebration. I think they’re days of self-examination,” Mr. Paul Bucha said.

Mr. Bucha, a Ridgefielder today, received the Medal of Honor “for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of this life above and beyond the call of duty” in Vietnam in 1968, when the company he commanded was helicoptered into the midst of an enemy stronghold and spent the night fending off a battalion-sized force.

“I believe, systematically, the soldiers and their families have been ignored in the worst case, and poorly managed and administrated in the most charitable case, since this war began,” Mr. Bucha said recently.

“I’ve attended funerals to see public officials fall asleep in the middle of eulogies. I’ve been to Brooke Army Medical Center, where I saw literally hundreds of young men and women without arms and legs, and some without faces, who were kept out of sight and out of mind.”



Link: 
My Patriotism Has Been Used and Exploited

Army Sgt. John Bruhns will talk about his tour in Iraq and his opinion of the war.
He concludes: "My patriotism has been used and exploited. I am very proud of my military service, but I'm very disappointed in the civilian leadership and administration for sending us needlessly into combat."




Link: 
Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés sends Open Letter to Laura Bush

Words That Fall Short of the Soul’s Bar “No one suffers more than their president and I do…”



Link: Treating Trauma

      O
ne in three veterans of the war in Iraq, and one in nine of the military operation in Afghanistan, face mental health problems, including depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder, according to the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.




Link: 
Author  Deanna Mills blogs; another Military Family speaking out

 

Deanie Francis Mills is the author of 10 suspense thrillers, including ORDEAL and TIGHTROPE, and one true-crime, FACES OF EVIL, (which she co-authored with Houston PD forensic sketch artist Lois Gibson.) Her work has also appeared in numerous national magazines, and she is an experienced public speaker.

In 2004, when her son, Dustin, deployed to Iraq with the United States Marine Corps, Mills found she could no longer sit on the sidelines and watch a war she opposed, not when three close family members deployed, between them, six times to Iraq with the Marine Corps and the army.

In 2006, when her son deployed to Iraq a second time, Deanie started the political blog, "Deanie's Blue Inkblots" (formerly "Blue Inkblots").

 


Link:  Debra Morgan Pardee blogs; Another Military Family speaking out on 6 killed in her son's unit; her own son injured by IED

excerpts:
Six members of my son's company died yesterday in Diyala Province, Iraq, killed in a massive explosion that entirely destroyed a Stryker vehicle. Only one person survived. My daughter-in-law spent the whole day with her best friend and was with her when she received word that her fiancé had been killed.
Mothers Day is a very sad day for many, many military families, and six more mothers will be grieving this Sunday.
However, the beat goes on. Just when my daughter-in-law and I and all the families who lost loved ones on Sunday were preparing ourselves to attend the memorial service next Tuesday, our near miss became a direct hit this morning. I received a phone call from the Army informing me my son was injured in an IED blast that destroyed his Stryker vehicle.




Link; John Fenton, Another Military Family speaking out on one year anniversary of his son's death in Iraq

excerpt

On the first anniversary of his son's death in Iraq, John Fenton spoke out against the war Wednesday during a rally in front of the National Guard Armory.

"I just find it frightening," Fenton said. "We're going nowhere and we're going nowhere fast. And it's mostly young kids dying, I just don't understand it."

Matthew Fenton, a 24-year-old Marine Corps sergeant from Little Ferry, was wounded by shrapnel while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province on April 26, 2006. He died at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., less than two weeks later, a day after receiving a Purple Heart.





Link: Military Families Speak Out - NANCY LESSIN -  April Exceedingly Violent month with 104 U.S. Troops killed

Lessin is co-founder of Military Families Speak Out. She said today: "April has been an exceedingly violent month with at least 104 U.S. troops killed and we don't know how many Iraqis. This is almost as high as during the offensives against Fallujah. Contrary to the White House line that we need to give their latest escalation more time, it's clear that the occupation is not calming down the violence, it's helping to cause the violence." Lessin is in contact with numerous families of U.S. troops who are in Iraq.


posted by Lietta Ruger

Posted by SwanDeer Project at 1:34 PM 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
Friday, 23 February 2007

Now Playing: Lietta Ruger at Washblog
Topic: Remembrances

Congress didn't act then, doesn't act now; History Lesson - Bonus Army - 1932

Bonus Army March on Washington DC in 1932 provides us with a model that has seemingly gone unchanged in how Congress responds to our military veterans, and the intensity by which veterans and civilians have to 'demonstrate' to get the attention of Congress - no not just get the attention, but enough attention that causes Congress to finally take action.    

A history lesson. Last night, on PBS station, was airing of a show about the 20,000 Bonus Army veterans of World War 1,along with their families, and other affiliated groups in their march on Washington DC, their encampment in Washington DC during the spring and summer of 1932, and the resulting riot that ensued to break up the encampment.  Congress continued to vote no to keeping a promise they had already made and given to these WW 1 veterans. Perseverance and persistence, on the part of the veterans, families and supporters and finally Congress said Yes to keeping their promise. What happened in between with Congress saying No to Congress saying Yes is not a pretty American tale, but indeed, part of American history.  

1932 - World War 1 and all the wars that followed up to the present in 2007 - why do our veterans have to fight Congress as well as fight in the battlefields?  It seems this is the 'norm', not the exception.  

In 1924 promise was made via Adjusted Service Certificate Law giving to WW1 veterans "bonus" certificates the following year that would be redeemable for cash after a maturation period of 20 years - payable in 1945.

June 17, 1932 and Congress was to vote on the Patman Bonus Bill, which would have moved forward the date when World War I veterans received a cash bonus. The 'Bonus Army' massed on DC, in hopes of convincing Congress to grant payments immediately, providing relief for the marchers/protestors who were unemployed. It was the era of the Great Depression, and veterans who already served found themselves in the food lines, without means to provide for their families, and were reduced from proud returning warriors to street beggars and bums (note; use of those words street beggars and bums reflects the social thinking of that era, not my definitions for how I think of the veterans of that era).  Not a pretty sight then for veterans, and doesn't it bring up recent history of Vietnam-era veterans who are homeless, living in the streets in reduced life circumstances?

Why is it no surprise that Congress defeated the bill July 28, and offered the pittance of paying the veteran demonstrators way home?  Some accepted and went home; others did not and remained. The Washington Police moved in to disperse the encampment, and two veterans were fatally shot in the process. The veterans hit back with blunt instruments, and the Washington Police backed off telling then President Hoover that they could not maintain the peace.

President Hoover ordered in federal troops to remove the veteran protesters.   Noted Generals, General Douglas MacArthur with Dwight D. Eisenhower as part of his staff,  and General George S. Patton were in command of the removal.  Troops carrying rifles, unsheathed bayonets and tear gas were sent in.    Hundreds of veterans were injured, several killed.  It's not hard to imagine the impact on the public of a visual of  U.S. armed soldiers confronting poverty-stricken veterans from what was then in American history the recent Great War.  (note; jumping forward in hisotry, we've seen this image again in Vietnam war protests).  It did set the stage and we do have these protesting WW 1 veterans to thank for what would become Veteran relief and eventually the Veterans Administration, making benefits of medical, home loans, and college tuition available to the next generation of veterans.

(Side note) And these benefits, I'm afraid, are on the serious decline as this Administration cites budget constraints while asking for budget supplemental appropriation to feed troop increases and keeping the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.  

In the battle against it's own veterans to clear the encampments, burning down the tents and shacks, by the end a list of casualties looked like this:


    - Two veterans were shot and killed.
    - An 11 week old baby was in critical condition resulting from shock from gas exposure.
    - Two infants died from gas asphyxiation.
    - An 11 year old boy was partially blinded by tear gas.
    - One bystander was shot in the shoulder.
    - One veteran's ear was severed by a Cavalry saber.
    - One veteran was stabbed in the hip with a bayonet.
    - At least twelve police were injured by the veterans.
    - Over 1,000 men, women, and children were exposed to the tear gas, including police, reporters, residents of Washington D.C., and ambulance drivers.

 President Hoover was not re-elected, and a new President in Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected. After his 1933 Inauguration, some of the veterans regrouped to make their case to the new President.  He did not want to pay the bonus either, and his wife, Eleanor Roosevelt engaged the veterans encouraging many of them to sign up for jobs making roadways at the Florida Keys.

In the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 in Florida, 259 of these veterans were killed at their worksites on the highway.  Public sentiment in reaction to seeing  newsreels of veterans giving their lives for a government that had taken them for granted, is what persuaded Congress they could no longer afford to ignore it in an election year (1936). Roosevelt's veto was overridden, and the veterans received their bonus.

 NPR Soldier Against Soldier; The Story of the Bonus Army with vintage newsreel.

I will mention 'Vietnam' without getting into another history lesson - a decade of sending our young into combat in an un-necessary war, 58,000 names of the dead on Vietnam Wall in Washington DC; millions of Vietnamese, Cambodians and Laotians killed - oh yes, if you didn't know it to be true, U.S. troops were ordered by the Nixon Administration into Cambodia and Laos - it wasn't limited to Vietnam. The Nixon Administration also ordered the military use of weapons of mass destruction in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos without much regard to the troops or non-combatant civilians.  What did it take to get Congress to act in this history lesson?  

Today, then, in 2007, in the matter of four years of U.S. military deployed in occupation of Iraq, despite four years of mounted protests by hundreds of thousands in cities across the United States, in Washington DC - what is it going to take to affect Congress to action instead of using just empty words as they jocky for political position?  Despite the efforts of veterans - over 1,300 Iraq veterans signed the Appeal for Redress that was delivered to Congress in January 2007 - Lt. Ehren Watada's efforts by his refusal to deploy to put the Iraq war on trial in accord with U.S. compliance with Geneva Conventions - the poll which indicated that 70% of deployed troops polled believe they should come home -----   what is going to take to get Congress to listen and act?  

No, that is not a rant or a hopeless question.  The history dating back to the Bonus Army, and the wars in which the U.S. military has been deployed since clearly show a more than casual disregard for the military and veterans over a 65 year period.  That is more than happenstance - that is a pattern of behavior on the part of Congress.  And I only went back to 1932, choosing the Bonus Army as a starting place.  

Is it any wonder that there is almost now by rote an action = U.S. military deployed into questionable wars with reaction = U.S. public must battle Congress to see the error it it's ways via repeated and accelerated protest demonstrations before Congress will act?  Is this the norm in our country - this land of freedom?  Freedom of what, I ask myself sometimes - freedom to send our young off in repeated historical wars to be killed and maimed and scarred for life and with just a thank you Sir and then are as quickly as one clicks the remote to change the tv channel the 'new veterans' are forgotten? Freedom to maintain freedom by sending our young repeatedly generation after generation to war?  I have to wonder when freedom isn't freedom but an act of an extreme kind of  selfishness.  Why is it that only our country deserves the largess?

No, I don't want to move to another country and I'm sure many would be happy to invite that opportunity if I am so dis-satisfied with my own country.  And no, I don't want to live under a dictatorship or other forms of government that are oppressive in nature.  Besides, I've had a husband and now a son-in-law and nephew pay my price of freedom and freedom to speak since they have been in combat over two wars - Vietnam and Iraq. Oh, and my nephew was also in Bosnia - you remember Bosnia?  Clinton years?

But, just because we, in this country, have some mythical definitions of what it is to be a democracy and those definitions are bathed and perfumed in nostalgic and patriotic dressing, doesn't mean we should accept that as the satisfactory bar or standard of what it means to be a democracy.  We should strive for better, yes, and we should re-examine our definitions and we should, perhaps improve on those definitions, and we should stop sending our young generations to be killed in the name of democracy and freedom, or at the very least get a clearer sense of what constitutes a 'threat' and imminent danger to our country. .

Quoting President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who witnessed and participated in routing out the Bonus Army - U.S. troops against U.S. veterans:

Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the militaryindustrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

 

  Don't think for a moment, that our Congress today, our Administration today does not well know the lessons of history.  Which is exactly why Congress refusing to act against an Administration who refuses to listen to the advice and warnings of his war experts is beyond deplorable as static energy - moving neither forward or backward,  perpetuating more of the same by doing nothing different. When did 'stay the course' become a patriotic nomenclature?  How is that bravery or wisdom in the face of foolishness?  

I truly do not wish to see the two in our family go back to Iraq this year - they returned alive, not necessarily well, but alive from their first 15 month deployment in 2003-2004.  Believe me, none in our family will consider it a noble sacrifice for them to go back, and their deaths will not honor them or us, rather it will be remembered that this Administration and Congress in concert did, in fact, exploit and dishonor our brave young service men and women.    


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PST

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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