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"My son could no longer be silent while atrocities were committed in the name of democracy."

An open letter from the mother of the first comissioned officer to refuse to serve in Iraq.
 
 
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On Friday, the Stryker Brigade was deployed to Iraq. The mother of Ehren Watada, the officer in the brigade who refused to go, sent this letter to explain her son's actions:

Dear Fellow Americans,

I am the mother of Lt. Ehren Watada, an officer stationed at Ft. Lewis. He is part of a Stryker brigade unit that deployed today to Iraq. Despite an unflinching commitment to his men and to democratic ideals, he chose not to accompany his men. His decision came through much soul-searching and through research and consultation with experts across disciplines, inside and outside of the military and the government.

After weighing the evidence, he came to the conclusion that he could no longer be silent while atrocities were committed in the name of democracy. He could no longer be a tool of an administration that used deception and lies to make the case for pre-emptive war.

As a member of the armed forces, sworn to uphold the US Constitution, he refuses to blindly participate in a war of aggression, an illegal war that undermines who we are as a nation and violates international law. Implicit in his oath as an officer is the duty to disobey all unlawful orders for; to carry out these orders renders him an accomplice to a criminal act. Furthermore, to order his men to participate in a war of aggression multiplies his guilt a thousand fold. His conscience will not permit him to do so. He believes that he can best serve them by taking a stand against the war. In so doing, he demonstrates that one does not relinquish the freedom to choose what is right, even in the military, and that the freedom to choose what is right transcends the allegiance to man and institutions.

As a mother, I have evolved from fearing for his safety and for his future to the realization that there is a higher purpose to all that has transpired. My son no longer stands at the crossroads. He has chosen "the road less travelled." Come what may, he is committed to staying the course.

I invite you to affirm your support of Lt. Ehren Watada on June 27th, National Day of Action. On this day, groups across the country will participate in peaceful demonstrations, prayer services, candle light vigils, parades, leafleting, visitations to recruitment stations to provide counsel to prospective recruits.

For updates on news and actions regarding Lt. Watada, please check out: www.thankyoult.org or www.couragetoresist.org.

My deepest thanks,

Carolyn Ho
Ehren's Mom

Rachel Neumann is Rights & Liberties Editor at AlterNet.