Sunday, September 18, 2005

Lietta on the Central Tour Bus in Pennsylvania

Sunday 9/11/05
4:30 PM CAMP NEIL: Speak Out/Pot-Luck Picnic with Musical Perfomances at Flagstaff Hill (Schenely Park, Oakland)
The picnic was fun and MFSO founders Nancy Lessing and Charlie Richardson were speakers along with Cindy Sheehan.

7:00 PM Candlelight Vigil and MARCH: From Flagstaff Hill (Schenely Park, Oakland) to Soldiers & Sailors Memorial

Following the pot-luck we marched to the Soldiers & Sailors Memorial. My thrill was that I got to carry one end of the IVAW banner. Again I have praise for IVAW member Hart Viges who has a powerfully expressive style in his presentation.
Our lodging turned out to be a convent which provided spacious comfort and a wonderful sense of repose and security.

Monday, September 12th
11:45 AM Truth in Recruiting Press Conference/Protest at Oakland Military Recruiting Station (3712 Forbes Ave., Oakland)
The recruiters shut the office and left.
We also went to the office of Senator Arlen Specter and met a Regional Rep/Office Director. Our usual discussion points and some active interest even though Specter (a Republican) was in D.C. chairing the Senate Judiciary Committee trying to get answers out of Supreme Court Chief Justice nominee, John Roberts.

Later in the afternoon we went to a studio for taping a CNBC with CNBC personality, Donnie Deutch in a Town Hall meeting about the Tour and Military Families speaking out. They put makeup on many of us but the principal speaker was our Beatriz Saldivar, MFSO. However they also had the pro-Bush Prewitt family from Boise, Idaho whom Bush attempted to use as a c ounterpoint to Cindy.
They gave much more time and emphasis to the Prewitts - who have five military members (the spouse and 4 adult children I believe) - and who have not suffered a family loss ... yet. We felt extremely slighted by this production, particularly when Beatriz's presentation was evoking emotional support in the audience and CNBC abruptly cut her off in mid-sentence after only about 3 minutes and spent most of the rest of the time doting on the Prewitts. I understand that this taping will air this Wednesday (10:00 pm Eastern) on CNBC if it has not already.

7:30pm PUBLIC GATHERING to discuss Truth in Recruiting - Friends Meeting House (4836 Ellsworth Ave, Oakland)
This gathering also included a discussion of conscientious objectors. Regarding recruiting, I had a chance to share my perspective of the Emiliano Santiago and the Seattle trial where he was overruled by a judge and ordered to fulfill the terms of his contract and return to Iraq.

The Friends Meeting House is of course Quaker - hence a consideration of what it means to be a conscientious objector. Nancy Lessing was one of the speakers tonight. The ultimate theme of the evening, in my (Lietta) opinion is that "soldiers are people too."

Tuesday, September 13th
12 noon PRESENTATION and Q&A with members of the Tour United Steelworkers of America headquarters (60 Blvd.of the Allies, Downtown)
The steelworkers passed a resolution today demanding that the president bring our troops home now.

Wed, Sep. 14th

We spent the day in Harrisburg meeting with elected officials ( Pennsylvania state officials and congressional representatives/staffs) discussing the issues raised by Camp Casey and the tour.

We ended the day in Harrisburg with a rally on the steps of the capitol building.

Thursday, September 15th


11:30 AM Discussion with the AFL-CIO at AFL-CIO Headquarters - 22 South 22nd Street.
Our contact for this meeting was the president of the AFSCME District 47. AFSCME is a member of the AFL-CIO and also the parent organization of the Washington (State) Federation of State Employees of which husband, Arthur Ruger, is a president of Local 970 in Grays Harbor and Pacific Counties. The AFL-CIO also passed a resolution today demanding that the president bring the troops home now.

Activity: Induction of "Camp Gold Star" to recognize all who have fallen - Independence Mall, 5th & Market Streets

Today we accomplished the induction of "Camp Gold Star" near the Liberty Bell at the Independence Mall, 5th and Market Streets.

There was some pain in the building of Camp Gold Star because the rules do not allow us to "poke holes in the ground" which for us is not the same as inserting the crosses so that they stand up. Eventually we decided to be civilly disobedient and planted the crosses anyway. It's curious that we would have such resistance to honoring our beloved soldiers with crosses at what is famously known as the Birthplace of Liberty. Well ... the crosses remained.

We also - in reminder of the "Eyes Wide Open" campaign - placed empty boots with the crosses and in fact placed a cross in the boots. We then placed a set of empty boots among the others with the idea that the next owner of a set of boots here is yet to be determined. What can we do to help end it?

We who have never been to this city also took time toward the end of the day when the lines were shorter to see the Liberty Bell and again ponder our own history and heritage in the presence of something real and tangible that evokes feelings akin to when we see our flag or sing our anthem.

We met another mother who lost a soldier in Iraq a month ago. As she is tragically eligible to join Gold Star Mothers, we do not know if she will. But her agony is no so great as to overpower her wisdom. We saw as she spoke with 4 young R.O.T.C. cadets who apparently knew her son, pleading with them to not take a similar path to risk a similar fate for such a discredited reason.

Later, a security guard, after finishing his shift, came by. He's a veteran of the war in Afghanistan and Iraq in his mid-to-late 30's. If we understood him correctly, he joined (or rejoined) the military after September 11th because he had a sense that if the military (including him) could "end it" before his 10-year-old son reached draft age. An extraordinary thing - yet so typical of what a parent instinctively feels for the children. We see it all the time, sacrificing one's self so the next generation has a chance.

Lietta says that the VFP have been wonderful in their participation, support and activities all day.

We we also excited late in the day to receive notice from Beatriz Saldivar that Daniel Torres' widow, Sophia, gave birth to a valiant soldier's daughter, a new niece for Beatriz and a living legacy of a heroic man.

They named her Daniela.

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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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