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Liberty Belle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-24-06 12:36 AM
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The Costs of War
(Note to moderator: I'm the author, so it's okay to post full text. This was originally published in my newsletter, the Liberty Belle Log.)

THE COSTS OF WAR: PEACE VIGILS SPARK COMMUNITIES' CONSCIENCES

I supported this war in the beginning, but when I had to pick up the remains of my friend and put them in a body bag, it changed for me, said Cpl. Anthony Oliver, 24, who fought in Fallujah. A roadside bomb blew him into eight different pieces.

Oliver, a resident of Temecula, California, saw peace activists holding a Bring Their Buddies Home vigil on January 15th and spontaneously joined in. The event, sponsored by Congressional candidate Jeeni Criscenzo, encouraged participants to wear black and each don the name of a fallen soldier.

We are breeding terrorism, said Criscenzo, who has called for a withdrawal of troops from Iraq. Why send one more of our sons and daughters to die? Criscenzo, a Democrat, is running against Republican Darryl Issa. She braved hecklers to host this vigil in the reddest area of her district.

Oliver, wearing ordinary street clothes, looked out of place among the black-clad observers standing vigil. But his poignant story compelled listeners to understand the human costs of war.

Unwilling to return for a second tour of duty in Iraq, Oliver went AWOL. Im a single father, said the soldier, who has a two-year-old toddler and a six-month-old infant. Id rather get a dishonorable discharge than lose my life.

Military police tracked Oliver down at his mothers house in Diamond Bar. Had the MPs simply knocked on the door, Oliver says, he would have willingly gone with them to accept his punishment. But the MPs, along with U.S. Marshals and officers from the Los Angeles Sheriffs Department launched a middle-of-theo-night assault on his mothers home.

They mounted a chain on the front end of a Humvee and took the whole front end of Moms house off, he recalled. We were asleep inside. Oliver spent seven months in the brig, also losing pay and benefits for his actions.

One week later, beside the Oceanside Pier, Veterans for Peace assembled Arlington West 2,228 crosses lit with candles in the sand, each symbolizing a fallen U.S. soldier.

A little girl named Jenna laid sunflowers at a cross bearing the name of her father, Sgt. Jonn Edmonds, 20. Edmonds, a U.S. Army ranger, was killed in a Blackhawk helicopter crash over Pakistan in October 2001, during the Afghanistan war.

It just breaks my heart, said Mary Antonio, Edmonds sister, who also lost a friend serving in Iraq as a Reservist. I did agree with Afghanistan, but I dont agree with this war. I dont believe the intentions were honorable.
A veteran herself, Antonio brought flowers for each of the makeshift crosses representing soldiers who died in Afghanistan. She planned to read each name aloud.

I just wanted to honor the soldiers who were killed before March 2003. All of these crosses are somebodys mother, father, son or daughter, she told me softly. We need to make sure that whatever were fighting for, its worth it.


(for a free subscription to the Liberty Belle Log, e-mail writerink@cox.net )
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leftstreet Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-24-06 12:46 AM
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1. ...what is it good for?
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Liberty Belle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-24-06 12:51 AM
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2. This war isn't good for anything, in my view.
That view, FYI, was shared by just about everyone who stopped by these vigils.

I talked with a Marine who is leaving the military next month. He said the attrition rate is nearly double, because so many soldiers no longer support this war and are therefore getting out.

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