Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Support and Honor the Warriors; not the war...

You are Cordially Invited to a Meet & Greet with the six (6) Members of the Iraq Veterans Against the War next week when they roll into San Diego on the final stop of their “State of the Union: 2008 Summer Base Tour" of eight U. S. Military Bases on Thursday, September 4th in a casual one on one Private House Party setting before they visit the U. S. Marines at Camp Pendleton on Friday.
  • What: Meet & Greet Private House Party, Conversations with Iraq Veterans

  • Who: Six (6) Activist Members of the Iraq Veterans Against the War on the last stop of their 2008 Summer Base Tour.

  • When: Thurs, September 4, 2008, 5:30pm to 7:00 pm,

  • Light Dinner and Refreshments 7:00 pm “Sharp” to 9:00 pm

  • Where: 12177 Briarleaf Way, San Diego 92128

Please RSVP by: Wednesday, 09/03/08 to jan.ruhman@vetspeak.org or call Jan Ruhman @ 858-361-6273. Thank you.

Bios of the Crew Members:

Jason Washburn
Originally from San Diego, CA, Jason Washburn served four years in the United States Marine Corps as an Infantry Rifleman. He was deployed to Iraq three times with two different units during his enlistment, serving in Al Hillah, Najaf, Haditha and much of Al Anbar province.
“This tour is so important because service members have the most credible voice in the nation in regards to what is being done in Iraq in the American people’s name, but that voice is continually silenced,” said Jason.

Steve Mortillo
Originally from Nutley, N.J., Steve Mortillo served 3 years in the US Army as a Cavalry Scout. In March of 2004 he deployed to Iraq with the 1st Infantry Division and returned home in February of 2005. “The biggest threat to American freedom is not at the hands of foreign extremists, but a corrupt government that refuses to abide by the Constitution or the will of the people,” said Steve. He wants to ensure servicemembers who disagree with the administration’s occupation of Iraq are no longer silenced. “This base tour is about making sure our brothers and sisters know they are not alone,” he said.

Marlisa Grogan
Originally from Wayne, NJ, Marlisa Grogan received her commission in the US Marine Corps in May 2002. She underwent officer training at The Basic School in Quantico, VA and was stationed at New River, NC, as an adjutant for Marine Aircraft Group 26 (MAG-26) for her four years of service. In 2005, Marlisa deployed with her unit to Al Asad, Iraq, for 12 months before her end of active service in June 2006. Marlisa Grogan is currently a Captain in the IRR and transitioning from her work as a union organizer to graduate school at the Columbia University School of Social Work. She intends to focus her study on veterans’ issues, namely the rising rates of suicide and homelessness.

Jason Hurd
Jason Hurd, of Ashville, NC, joined the Army as a medic in 1997 after graduating from high school. He did so despite his father’s opposition, a Marine who served in the Pacific campaign and saw both the battles of Tarawa and Guadalcanal – two of the bloodiest occurrences of the war.
Hurd was “gung-ho” at first, but slowly became disillusioned with the Army’s prevailing leadership style of threatening and intimidating Soldiers to keep them submissive.
In November 2004, Jason deployed to central Baghdad with Bristol, Tennessee’s Troop F 2/278th Regimental Combat Team. Over the next year, he saw numerous car-bombings, body parts, dead civilians, dead Soldiers and witnessed the general suffering that followed the U.S. military across Iraq.

Ray Curry
Ray Curry was born and raised in Annapolis, MD, on a diet of GI Joe, Rambo and Full Metal Jacket. The week of the attacks on Sept 11, 2001, he found himself shaking hands with a Marine Corps recruiter and signing papers at age 17. As a 19-year-old Non-Commissioned Officer, he was deployed with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit to the Al Najaf Province of Iraq. After 10 months of the Muqtada Militia, fallen service members, Iraqi civilian “collateral damage” and providing security for the regional “elections,” it became clear that the occupation of the Sovereign Nation of Iraq was both illegal and immoral.

Sponsored by:

Veterans For Peace-San Diego Chapter
Military Families Speak Out-San Diego County Chapter
Vietnam Veterans Against the War-San Diego County Chapter

Y'all come...hear?!



Tuesday, September 2, 2008 - High Noon

SAINT PAUL, MN -- The streets of Saint Paul are nearly deserted as I walk the perimeter of the Xcel Energy Center in silence. It's lunchtime -- and compared to a normal business day, things are at a half-roar, not so much subdued, as uncluttered by everyday pedestrian traffic and cars.
Real life has left Saint Paul for the safety of the suburbs.
To me, the bizarre emptiness of the downtown scene places even more emphasis on Carlos' pick-up truck, with his son's casket in back, cruising the streets of Saint Paul, trying to get a witness, trying to make the right connection with the right authorities and bring them all home now.
Even more important than our empty pockets and gas tanks, is what Carlos Arredondo and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Against the War have to say. Hearing it through all the carnival sounds and sideshows of a national political convention can be nearly impossible.
Everyone on the streets seems to be some type of carnie, hard at work at trying to extract something from us. Few people seem to be here to give anything: to communicate, to understand, to look beyond the high metal fences and the ready-to-pounce authorites, to get beyond the outrageous amounts of firepower to protect -- what? The collective societal dysfunction that continually sends our young men and women off to unbelievably, unthoughtout wars for profit? Don't they realize it isn't all about "them and us" -- but about us all?
Are all those heavily armed guards -- obviously filled with pride at the great job they are doing -- aware of what their job actually is? Are you there to keep our elected officials safe inside? Or to make sure the people don't try too hard to get inside?
Why do our elected officials need such firepower to protect them?
Is it because firepower (like war) costs money and can generate a hell of a profit? Or is it something deeper that requires thought, wisdom, communication, understanding and true forward-thinking to hear? Are you afraid that Carlos might burst your bubble in there?
"My husband urged me to stay home today," I heard one woman say in Rice Park a few minutes ago. "But I just had to see this for myself."
"You're better off staying inside the buildings, another woman said to me. "After those hundreds of protesters destroy the place, anything can happen." There was a smile on her face, "mal-curiousity" and I can see that her life must be devoid of the true excitement that living an inclusive, loving, generous life might bring to us all.
"Didn't you see the damage those idiots did to the banks, the police cars, the windows? They just want to bring America down."
Yes. I see the damage. And I hear how people are grabbing onto those images to discount the thousands of veterans who marched yesterday for peace. There have always been detractors from all sides and we must keep on marching anyway.
Truth has its own way of rising to the Big Top. It is the Big Top. And all the red,white and blue popcorn, chocolate McCain & Obama suckers and free t-shirts in the world won't keep it down. And in this case, truth can be found in the faces, determined strides and lives of the young men and women of Iraq & AfghanistanVeterans Against the War and their supporters.
And so, as I march the streets of Saint Paul, all by myself on my lunch hour, my heart hurts and my stomach screams out for Carlos' son and all the victims of our collective madness that I have witnessed in my lifetime.
The most sane people I know, consistently through life, have been relegated to living lives as fringe dwellers, always wondering who's the crazy one. Why is that?
Vietnam Veterans taught me about this. And it is a lesson I remember daily for fear of drowning in the collective madness myself. From the pain of Vietnam, all the way to the very now, humankind has seemed to work to destroy itself. If that isn't certifiable, then what is?
And so, I say, because this is a blog and my place to sound off:
RNC Leaders/Politicians: Open the gates of the Xcel Center. Meet your constituents. Call off your dogs! Be moved by us! Greed, profit, and personal gain feel "good" in the short run but in the end will destroy our children and life as we know it in the end. It is time to see the forest through the trees and honor the power we have given you by electing you to your posts. And it is also time to end the greed, profit and personal gain impulses in ourselves. We do not need to bring down our neighbor to build ourselves up. We are all in this together.
And from my excellent vantage point in Saint Paul (that I hope I can get beyond emotion to report more fully from) I want to report that yes, I can see the entire carnival from where I stand. But what I believe is the most difficult thing of all to see is:
Me -- looking back at you.