Friday, January 02, 2009

Robin Long - Prisoner Of Conscience; Update:

The Most Recent Visit with Robin in the Brig, Sunday, 12/28/08:

Ed Note:  This report comes from Jan Ruhman, our Operations Coordinator.  Jan is also an active member of  Veterans For Peace, San Diego, and is the Southern California Organizing Coordinator for Vietnam Veterans Against The War.  In these capacities,  he has been active in bringing together a coalition of groups in SoCal that , in conjunction with other organizational priorities, have come together  in support of Robin Long, a victim of the suppression of GI Rights for political purposes.  A coalition that also includes Iraq Veterans Against The War and Military Families Speak Out.  In this regard, they are not only speaking out for Robin Long, but for all who serve, and may themselves unfortunately fall victim to such political purposes, in the future.WH

This in from Jan...

Today is Sunday, December 28th , and from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm I visited, alone, for the fourth time,  with Robin Long in the Naval Consolidated Brig at MCAS Miramar while the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan continue unabated and Hamas and Israel began yet another deadly round in their on again off again war on civilians. It was a last minute decision on my part to fill in for others who came down sick and to fulfill a promise we made to Robin when we adopted him, that someone from VFP, MFSO, IVAW or VVAW would be in to spend time with him each and every holiday and weekend until his release in July of 2009.

It was, yet another wonderful two hours spent with an exceptional young man. A young man who could be my son or any other families son who, having taken a principled moral stand by refusing to participate in an illegal and immoral war made the same choice that Robin was forced to make to remain true to his core beliefs of right and wrong. And I imagined my own son being locked away in a brig on some base some where in America hundreds or even thousands of miles from family and friends for that decision in complete sync with the values I had tried to instill in him. Each time I visit with Robin I realize that’s what troubles me the most.

But today what stuck me even harder while speaking to Robin was the total cost in human suffering because of this war; the CO like the soldier or Marine who suffers from physical or psychological wounds is yet one more human being needlessly suffering. Not a number, not a statistic but a person, a human being, someone’s husband, son, nephew, cousin or friend. Perhaps he and other soldiers like him are the collateral damage of a military pushed to its breaking point lashing out in an attempt to maintain control over the young minds they command while dutifully implementing the mission. 

The Injustice:

How else could they justify a 15 month prison sentence for Robin Long for desertion and a 7 month sentence for a soldier convicted in that same Military Justice System of 1st Degree Murder of executing 6 Iraqi civilians.  To be clear, I am not saying that his sentence should have been harsher (as a former young US Marine who voluntarily served two tours in Vietnam I know all to well the horrors of war and what good people are capable of doing in the fog of war). My point is that Robin Long shouldn’t serve a single day in jail for following his conscience.

Giving Thanks:

This, for me, has been a Christmas to give thanks for so much that I have been blessed with and to give thanks to so many good and decent people in my life. Christmas Day was a quite day of meals and movies spent with family. Saturday was my youngest son’s 26th Birthday and that evening after Birthday Cake and the singing of Happy Birthday I attended the wedding of an old and dear friend whose new bride has a 21 year old son, whom I met and briefly spoke with, who is deploying to Iraq on January 3, 2009. He was part of the Grooms party and was dressed in his full Military Dress Uniform. I brought to mind that old saying “women love a man in uniform”. He looked handsome and stood tall and proud. Later at the Reception Dinner I met his young wife and their new born child who was just 2 ½ months old. I pray for his safe return and wonder how he’ll feel about “his” war when he returns?

I remember asking my youngest son if he had ever thought about joining the military after he dropped out of college and returned home, he said, “yes”.  I asked him what changed his mind and his reply was,” It’s not like you never talked with me about it Dad”, made me proud that I had shared my war experiences in Vietnam and the lies and betrayal of my government in that war with him and that I had taught him to question authority and to always fully think things through for himself. For that I am the most grateful this Holiday Season.  Peace

 Jan A. Ruhman

Proud Member of Veterans For Peace


Vietnam Veterans Against the War

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