Saturday, October 22, 2005

I Can’t Bear Another Vigil; 2,000 Killed and Still Counting..

There will be vigils across the nation this week commemorating Dept of Defense report of 2,000 US soldiers killed in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Plans are underway amongst peace and activist groups to stage vigils in local communities across the nation when that fatal number is published. Already I’ve received media phone calls about these upcoming events as it seems media also wants to mark the tragic occasion. They phone me as a member family representing Military Families Speak Out. Will I be participating one wants to know; another wants to know if I can refer names of other military family members who are willing to speak in media, specifically, who’s loved one has been killed.

A gruesome time; gruesome media requests. A morbid reason to even have to think about planning or participating in another memoriam vigil. Since August 2005 through September 22, 2005 I have participated in vigil after vigil at the Camp Casey that sprung up in Crawford, Texas and again for nearly 4 weeks on the Bring Them Home Now Tour, central route from Crawford to DC. In DC, I was one among approximately 300,000 to 600,000 who participated in the 3 mile march to the White House.

I was in the contingent representing Military Families Speak Out, which was one of four contingents comprising a collective military community voice calling to bring our troops home. With the young Iraq Veterans Against The War; the seasoned veterans of Veterans for Peace, and the families who have had loved one killed, Gold Star Families for Peace, we stood together in front of the White House in commonality and purpose. Never mind whatever else was reported about that rally and march; our four contingents knew why we were there and what our collective represented…the experience of being in military or connected to military by the fact of our deployed loved ones. Our voice is a valid voice and cannot be dismissed away as it is representative of our collective authentic experience and truth. It is an essential part of the dialogue. While it is not in itself a singular truth, it is indeed another perspective of the authenticity of truthful experience regarding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In that light, no matter the perceptions and opinions, our’s is a critical part of the ongoing dialogue.

When I came home, it was a transition from high energy, high profile daily activities, morning to night; in sharing the message with a wider American public to the quiet of the life I share with my family in our quaint little fishing village on the bay. And yet amongst the communities in our state there are new military family voices coming forward to share their truth. Vigils continue amongst our state communities, and last weekend an Arlington Northwest Memorial was staged on our state capitol grounds. Last weekend the number of killed was in the neighborhood of 1977 . Crosses numbering 1970 had been crafted and were erected to honor the fallen. There was no political message whatsoever except the tradition of veterans to honor veterans, living and dead. I could not make myself attend; chiding myself for not attending and knowing my heart could not take another field of so many crosses.

I write this on a Saturday knowing in a matter of a few days, maybe even sooner, there will be memorial vigils in communities across the nation to mark the passing of now 2,000 of our fallen troops. I cannot make myself participate. In one short week, from the 1970 erected crosses to the need now for 2,000 crosses only a week later to mark the immediately coming number of killed.

But I don’t carry the burden of the war on my shoulders alone, and perhaps it is timely that my individual participation is less needed as more and more Americans see the need to take up the burden on their own backs. People who aren’t typically from peace and activist movements step forth to share their personal truths. People who have never before given opinion in public venues now see a need to lend their voice and actions. People talk now of being less content to be about the busy-ness of daily life are trying to make adjustments to free up time to give in lending voice and action. People talk of being weary of trying to be in denial about what they see with their own eyes and hear with their own ears.

Isn’t that the desired outcome in calling attention to our troops and their families who carry the burden of the wars every day without relent? To call out to Americans to lend their own voices and actions to relieving the troops and their families from carrying the weight of the war ensnarled now in an undefined mission with no clarity of purpose or outcome? I excuse my temporary lapse into my own human-ness as I forgive myself for being unable or unwilling to participate in yet another vigil and memoriam to commemorate the loss of 2,000 of our troops. As Americans across our country now pick up their own civilian duty and carry it forward to challenge not only the basis of the initiated wars, but to challenge the mission and duration, I take some comfort that my own work in this endeavor has been the contribution of one military family in a collective of voices coming from military families.

As each of you who are reading go about the business of your daily lives, what will you do this week to commemorate the marking of 2,000 loved ones killed in the wars? What will you do different tomorrow than you did today to contribute your own voice and action? As it goes without saying that this number doesn’t begin to measure the rest of the human cost of war. It doesn’t take into account the number wounded, without limbs, disfigured, paralyzed, mentally destroyed, nor the unreported carnages to the people who try to live their lives in Iraq. They too are mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, who carry a burden daily of living life in midst of war.

What is the measure for when enough is enough?

by Lietta Ruger, Oct 22, 2005


Military Families Speak Out

Gold Star Families for Peace

Iraq Veterans Against The War

Veterans for Peace

Bring Them Home Now Tour

Not One More Death, Not One More Dollar

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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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