Saturday, March 22, 2008

Winter Soldier Media Blackout: The public begins to respond...

Editors Note:
This letter to the Washington Post editor was forwarded out on the VVAW contact list for all to see, because the author believed that it would never make it into the Post Letter's to the Editor, due to their editorial stance of marginalizing the Winter Soldier: Iraq & Afghanistan hearings at the National labor College in Silver Springs, Maryland, this past week-end, March 13th thru 16th. WH

My letter to the Washington Post, 3/17/2008:
I don't know why I even bother to write this. For some reason I keep expecting more from the Post, even though I know you have been marginalizing opposition to the Iraq war since before it began.
I was grateful for Steve Vogel's Saturday coverage of the four-day Winter Soldier hearings, tucked into the Metro section as local news even although it is a national conference. Antiwar demonstrations are also relegated to the Metro section, even when hundreds of thousands of people have flocked to their nation's capitol from all over the country. (Are these articles only included in the District edition, or do Virginia and Maryland readers get them, too?
Opening the paper this morning, I had hoped to see some of the Winter Soldier testimony, which provides some of the starkest factual information and critical analysis of the situation in Iraq to date. (Fortunately I can listen to the proceedings on my computer because Pacifica Radio is covering the conference.) What I see instead is an article--in the front section of the paper--about the pro-war demonstration on the Mall. It will be interesting to see where coverage of this week's upcoming anti-war demonstrations end up.
Let me add this: You treat protest and demonstrations as news, which I suppose they are. But the Winter Soldier conference is not news--it is a source of information that the American people desperately need in order to have informed opinions and make informed judgments about their
government's illegal occupation of another country.
The Post has a responsibility to provide this information to its readership. Otherwise, you enable this administration to continue lying to Americans about the occupation of Iraq.
Helen Schietinger
Washington, DC 20011

Long Beach Veterans Day Parade: After Action Report

Anti-war marchers allowed in parade

L.B.: War protest groups banned from last year's Veterans Day event will be able to participate this year, organizers say.
By Kelly Puente
Staff Writer
LONG BEACH - Three anti-war groups who were banned from marching in the Long Beach Veterans Day Parade last year will be allowed to take part in this year's parade, organizers said Sunday.

Veterans for Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War and Military Families Speak Out were prohibited from marching last November because organizers said they didn't fit the spirit of the parade. The act sparked an emotional city-wide debate.

But after careful consideration, parade coordinator Martha Thuente said organizers and the groups finally reached an agreement last month.

She said the groups will be allowed to hold one banner each, but cannot make any political statements or pass out pamphlets.

They can wear their T-shirts but are "encouraged to wear their uniforms, which makes more of a statement," Thuente said. The event takes place along Atlantic Avenue in North Long Beach.

They will also be required to submit their parade applications separately. Last year, the three groups submitted one application under the name "Military Patriots."

Councilman Val Lerch, a member of the parade committee, said the application was unanimously rejected because organizers feared the group wanted to raise political issues at a parade meant to honor veterans.

Since they've reached an agreement, Lerch on Sunday said the groups can even ride a vehicle in the 12th annual parade on Nov. 8

"If they come in a Humvee, they're more than welcome," he said. "Just as long as they agree not to make a political statement."

Pat Alviso of Military Families Speak Out, an organization of people opposed to the war in Iraq who have relatives or loved ones in the military, said group members are happy and relieved after putting in more than three months of work.
Alviso said they have always supported the troops. Her son, Beto Alviso, is a gunnery sergeant in the Marines and has served two tours of duty in Iraq. He may be deployed to Afghanistan by the end of this year, she said. "You can support the troops but not the war," Alviso said. "There's a few of the old-timers who still do not get that."

Although they were banned from marching, more than 25 members from all three groups attended the parade anyway, standing peacefully and cheering for the veterans.

Alviso thinks their positive behavior had an influence on the organizers' decision.

"We do not want to make this parade anything more than a parade to celebrate and honor those who have served this country," she said.

Jason Lemieux, a Marine who served three tours of duty in Iraq and is now a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War, was one of several veterans who stood on the sidelines last year.

"It feels like I've been betrayed by the very people I fought to serve," he told the Press-Telegram in November.

Lemieux, an Anaheim resident, was one of hundreds of soldiers and Marines to testify in the "Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan" anti-war conference that took place Thursday through Sunday at the National Labor College in Silver Spring, Md.

There he said he testified on atrocities he witnessed in Iraq and called for an immediate withdrawal of troops.

Reached by phone on Sunday, Lemieux praised parade organizers for "making the right decision" and hopes to march this year.

"I think it's exactly what they should have done right from the beginning," he said., 562-499-1305