16 March 2010

Boots on the Ground

My Middle Eastern history class went to a discussion about this lovely war that our country is waging over in Iraq. A growing organization of veterans has formed in order to inform the American public about what actually goes on overseas. The Iraq Veterans Against the War, or IVAW, was established in July 2004, by seven soldiers. Today, there are over 60 IVAW chapters in 48 states, Washington D.C., Canada, and on various military bases in Iraq; this amounts to about 1700 soldiers protesting the war. These aren't just guys who watched the news and formed an opinion; they have been there, amidst the blood, and the death, the shoddy equipment and the dirty drinking water. The way our country the military is pathetic, and I'm glad that I live in a country where men have fought and died so that I have a right to speak my opinion.

"We hold the weapons. We pull the triggers. We have the power."

The group that came to speak to use consisted of four young men. They couldn't have been more than six or seven years older than me, which made their stories even more terrifying to hear. They told us about the "new equipment" given to military companies; in reality, the old trucks, guns, and even body armor are passed down and reused. Our soldiers are using the same equipment that was used by their grandfathers in 'Nam. Not the same design-- the same exact product, worn out and passed down despite the hazards involved.

"I'm not here for forgiveness. I'm here to take responsibility."

One of the speakers was in an Illinois National Guard company in inner-city Chicago; they were deployed to Iraq so that the rest of the companies could get newer equipment. He talked about the children who ran through the street, jumping onto trucks to try to get food and water. Those were the people he wanted to help. When he left Iraq, two years later, hungry children still ran through the streets begging for food.

"I think I died a little on the inside, I was so happy."

Another of the speakers, a fast-talking, humorous Marine, talked mostly about his experience in Iraq, as he was still fairly new to IVAW. He explained what a conscientious objector is, about his trouble with PTSD, and why he was forced to go AWOL twice in order to get paperwork to get to the right people.

"I did not sign up for this. This is not my mission."

The last man to speak is currently facing redeployment to Iraq; he will be shipped out in a matter of days. He has decided to go, in order to inform the men and women overseas of the injustices this war is supporting. He talked about how, when he enlisted, he was ready to fight, as he had been trained in combat, as is every soldier. Instead, he was expected to teach, a task he had no training for.

I strongly suggest visiting the IVAW website, in order to understand the many reasons why Iraq veterans are deadset against this war. Today's list will consist of some of the more interesting words, phrases, and people I heard about today:
1. Pundit
2. Insurgent
3. Conscientious Objector
4. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder [PTSD]
5. My Lai Massacre
6. General MacArthur
7. Warrior Writers
8. Divestment Projects
9. Contractors
10. Military-Industrial Complex
11. Smedley Butler
12. War is a Racket
13. Quantico
14. Absent Without Leave [AWOL]
15. Department of Defense Qualifications for Service
Never did joining up look so bad.

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