Saturday, March 05, 2005

Resolution; Oregon Gov. Kulongoski, Bring home Natl Guard

Oregon State Capitol Steps, Salem,

Tuesday, March 1st

Invited Speakers and Open Mike, 11am-1pm

Prayer Flags will hang all day

Military Families Speak Out (,
Gold Star Families for Peace (,
Veterans for Peace Chpt. 72 (,
Oregon Peace Works,
Corvallis Alternatives to War,
Women's Action for New Directions,
Peace and Justice works,
Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom and others

For More Information contact Eric Blickenstaff, Brother of Army SPC Joseph Blickenstaff, Killed in Iraq 12-8-03 (, (503) 708-6190

Resolution Calling for the Withdrawal of Oregon’s National Guard Troops from Iraq and Afghanistan:

Whereas, all conditions underlying PL 107-243 (10/16/02) authorizing military action against Iraq either have been proven false and all U.S. troops who are serving or have served in Iraq were sent to war for reasons that have been proven false;

Whereas, the Governor and State Legislature of Oregon have a particular responsibility to the members of the Oregon National Guard, their families and to the community that they serve;

Whereas, the Oregon National Guard was created for the protection of the citizens of Oregon from natural disasters or threats of violence within the state boundaries, as well as to protect the sovereignty of US borders;

Whereas, Oregon’s National Guard troops have been called up in unprecedented numbers, at the highest per capita level of any state, to serve on active duty in both Iraq and Afghanistan;

Whereas, absent the deployment of U.S. forces to Iraq, there would be no need for the use of National Guard troops in Afghanistan;

Whereas, Oregon National Guard troops have been poorly equipped and have received only rudimentary training for service in these wars, and are therefore suffering casualties at rates considerably higher than those of regular Army troops;

Whereas, Oregon’s National Guard troops are being subjected to unfair and involuntary extensions of duty well beyond the terms of their enlistment contracts, and their families, employers and communities have had to bear the hardship of accommodating the prolonged absence of the Guard members;

Whereas, the National Guard at home in Oregon has been decimated by the mobilization of our troops for these foreign wars, and whereas, a disproportionate number of National Guard members, in civilian life, serve as police officers, firefighters, EMT personnel, prison guards, etc., their absence has left our own communities vulnerable and ill-prepared for any natural disaster or terrorist attack within our own state borders;

Whereas, fewer and fewer Oregonians are willing to enlist in the National Guard because of the inappropriate use and unfair treatment of Guard troops by the US Defense Department and Army, leaving the likelihood that Oregon could be left unprotected for years to come;

Therefore be it Resolved: That the Legislative Assembly of the State of Oregon calls upon the Governor to exercise his power as Commander of the Oregon National Guard to immediately bring, or cause to be brought home, all Oregon National Guard troops presently serving in Iraq or Afghanistan, or in training for those wars.

Presented by: Michele Deford and Eric Blickenstaff on behalf of Military Families Speak Out and Gold Star Families for Peace

see more information at

For March 1, Urgent! Action Underway in Oregon, Ask Governor to Bring Home National Guard

Support Our Troops. Bring Them Home.
guest column

By Louanne Moldovan of Portland, Oregon. This commentary is the background story for a rally scheduled for March 1st at the Oregon State Capitol. The rally is organized by Eric Blickenstaff in cooperation with Military Families Speak Out and Veterans for Peace.

Freedom. Fear. Democracy. War.

These terms are tossed about by the reigning administration so easily nowadays - like so much detritus polluting the voracious media machine - they have essentially lost their meaning. Due to excessive repetition and at the exclusion of any discussion of them beyond their mere syllables, these words have been diluted to the level of banality. Where in the rabid shuffle toward global supremacy is there a whisper of eloquence, of ruminative thought, of soulful insight? For those troubled by the current cataclysmic political zeitgeist and famished for the promise of wisdom, dissatisfaction travels deep, provoking the ineffable desire to act.

Man is by nature a political animal. - Aristotle

JoeblickenstaffThe essence of a political act may be found when people find themselves in an experience in which they would not otherwise choose to engage - the emergence of Aristotle's political animal. Eric Blickenstaff discovered this nature in himself when his younger brother, Joe Blickenstaff, was killed in Iraq on December 8, 2003. Joseph Blickenstaff was 23 years old, and one of the first Oregonians to die in the war. On September 11, 2001, in addition to feeling the collective shock and anguish, Eric Blickenstaff began worrying. The country was seeped in an almost irrational fear. An invasion by the salivating Bush administration was imminent. Joe, hoping to calm his restlessness and find a new direction in a stint with the military, had enlisted as an Infantryman. It wasn't long before he was shipped off and dropped into the core of the fray. Forty-three minutes into his first battle, Joe was killed.

Eric wasn't new to fighting for a cause. His background includes serving as a Board Member for a multi-county mediation services group and a 7-year tenure as a social worker. But Joe's death harnessed his outrage and catapulted his resolve center stage. As his incipient activism simmered, he tried to ascertain the circumstances under which Joe was killed. He made inquiries to meet with Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, which fell upon deaf ears. Meanwhile, he became involved with various political coalitions and organizations. He wrote letters and made phone calls. He drove around with a sign on his car that depicted two images of Joe - the beaming innocence of youth vis a vis the despairing countenance of a doomed soldier. Beneath the photos he wrote:

'Bush and friends made millions on defense spending and Iraq oil and the cost was my brother's life.'

The response in the small town of Albany where Eric lives ranged between muted disapproval and downright hostility. He was shouted at, flipped off, emailed virulent messages and admonished to honor the President and support the troops.

Eric and his family waited, but still had no explanation from the White House as to how Joe died. What they did have was a computer-printed form letter from the President and Secretary Rumsfeld - an emblem of the emptiness residing at the heart of this wrong-headed conflict. Eight months after Joe was killed, Eric finally succeeded in obtaining an autopsy by succumbing to the kind of bullying behavior he so despised in the bureaucracy of the military.

Wading further into the disquieting knowledge that this omnipotent Administration cares little about soldiers and less about anyone in Iraq, Eric mobilized his energies. Fueled by the flawed syllogism that if you lose someone and speak out against the war, you are dishonoring the soldiers and what they did, he was determined to demonstrate his honor by telling the truth. There is a draft - the infamous stop loss practice. The cost of this war is inestimable. And, the war itself is illegal and must be stopped. Eric realized that the most direct manifestation of this moral struggle for truth was the withdrawal from Iraq of the Oregon National Guard.

Together with Military Families Speak Out and Veterans for Peace, Eric has organized a rally to take place Tuesday, March 1 rally at the capitol in Salem, from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm. As the legislature will be in session, people are encouraged to confront their State House and Senate representatives to support the withdrawal of these troops. During the day, the organizers will proudly exhibit a memorial of prayer flags Eric helped inspire - a collection of names of deceased soldiers and Iraqi civilians with accompanying messages of hope and sorrow

Furthermore, a resolution has been drafted to challenge two criteria for the invasion of Iraq - the weapons of mass destruction, the absence of which is a violation of the UN, and the threat to the U.S. of a terrorist nation, a fact no longer true as, according to the President, Iraq is now a democracy.

From the deep chasms of his grief, Eric Blickenstaff's progressive activism was born. He was compelled into the spotlight by of a series of events out of his control, and discovered in that steadfast sphere that one person can make a difference.

As he considers the memorial of prayer flags, Eric conjures his own dream. He wishes that his brother Joe's death would serve a purpose beyond the battlefield - a heightened awareness for all who will, in one way or another, encounter the madness of war.

Resolution; Oregon Gov. Kulongoski, Bring home Natl Guard

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President George W. Bush's statement in March 2006 after 3 yrs of war "a future President will have to resolve war in Iraq"


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