On the Third Anniversary

"More fighting and sacrifice will be required to achieve this victory, and for some, the temptation to retreat and abandon our commitments is strong." --George Bush, Radio Address, March 18, 2006

On March 19, 2003, George Bush "shocked and awed" the world by his premature, if not wholly unnecessary, invasion of Iraq. I can remember that night when he came on to tell us that he had begun his war crimes against Iraq in earnest. I was sitting on my couch sobbing for the innocent people of Iraq and for our children who had been put in harm's way by their careless commander-in-chief.

I was also terrified on a personal and primal level for my son, Casey. As a mother, that terror came from a deep and, up to then, unreachable and unknown place in my soul. I hoped that the predictions of swift and easy victory by the various neocon liars would be true, but I knew in my heart that such a "cake walk" would not be possible.

When the 4th Infantry Division from Ft. Hood captured Saddam in December of 2003, I was hoping against hope that our troops would be coming home soon, since they got the person who took Osama's place as Bush's "most wanted." Again, I selfishly prayed that Casey would not have to go over to the mess for his scheduled deployment in March of 2004.

Many people in Bush's circle told us that the paths of our troops would be strewn with flower petals instead of improvised explosive devises and that chocolates, not bullets, would be tossed at them. No amount of praying, hoping, or kidding myself stopped the invasion from happening or brought a swift conclusion to the war. Right around the first anniversary of the invasion, Casey and the 1st Cavalry left for Iraq. After Casey had been there for five days, he and seven other soldiers were killed on April 4, 2004, in an ambush in Sadr City by the Mahdi forces loyal to Moqtada al Sadr.

Shortly after Casey was killed, power was transferred from Jay Bremer to a puppet government, and Bremer skulked out of Iraq in the middle of the night with $8.8 billion missing from the Coalition Provisional Authority. Bremer came home to a Presidential Medal of Freedom, and Casey came home in a cardboard box. We picked him up at SFO's United Airlines loading dock the day before Easter that year. Casey was awarded medals that were pinned on the uniform that covered his lifeless chest.

George Bush said today that the war was going to take more fighting and more sacrifice. I want to know who is fighting. I want to know if the members of the executive and legislative branches that are so willing to leave our troops in the middle of sectarian violence and a militarily undefeatable resistance are willing to send their children to the desert to take the place of the at least 72 percent of the soldiers who want to come home. Are they willing to go over there themselves to fight? George Bush didn't finish his commitment to the country when he went AWOL from the Alabama National Guard; why hasn't he been called back up to go and fight and die in his own "noble cause"? I have heard of other men and women his age who have been called back up. This is not our children's fight. As in all war, the only people who benefit are the war profiteers.

I would also like to know who is making sacrifices in this country besides the soldiers and their families. Where are the shared sacrifices of the past? There was a USA Today poll recently which said that at least 50 percent of our population has "cried" because of the war and so many more have put magnets on their cars. I wonder how many of our citizens wake up everyday with broken hearts and holes in their lives that can never be filled. I wonder how many wake up missing arms and legs, or both? I wonder how many can't sleep because they are afraid of the nightmares that haunt even their waking hours.

In one of George Bush's canned speeches to another handpicked audience, he assured another poor, unfortunate Gold Star mother that he would make sure her son didn't die in "vain." He is still insisting on killing more people because he has already killed so many. I realized a hard fact of life shortly after Casey was killed: He died in vain. He and so many more of his buddies would be alive if their commander-in-chief and the war machine weren't so greedy, heartless and incompetent.

As the country of Iraq disintegrates more every day, and the bodies pile up in the morgues faster than they can be buried, it is time to honor the sacrifices of our young people who were misused, ill-used and killed in Iraq by bringing their still living buddies home immediately. The Iraqi people know that the violence won't stop until the occupiers leave. The insurgency cannot go on without targets. It is time to realize that no matter how hard the Pentagon works at its propaganda machine, terrorism cannot be stopped by killing innocent people. Terrorism can only be stopped by analyzing what is causing the terrorism and changing behavior accordingly.

Buddhists say that everyone dies twice. Once when his/her body dies and once when the last person who remembers him/her dies. I want Casey and his buddies to live forever. I want the memories of our children who have been killed in this war to be honored by remembering them as the last casualties of the military-industrial complex -- not as pawns used in an evil game of corporate greed run amok and governmental corruption and cold-heartedness gone unchecked.

Finally, today George Bush said that the temptation to abandon "our" commitments is strong. I never made a commitment to preemptive war. I didn't authorize Congress to abrogate its responsibilities to declare war. I didn't give the orders to invade a country that was no threat to the USA. I didn't give the orders to use depleted uranium in Iraq. I wasn't the one who devoted myself to torture and imprisoning people without due process. I didn't lie to the world about the reasons for the invasion. I have no commitments to honor in Iraq but I believe George Bush's commitments are criminal, and they should be abandoned as swiftly as humanly possible.

Most of us are not war criminals; these are not our commitments. It is time for all of us who don't want to be linked or identified with the criminal cabal in D.C. to stand up loudly and repudiate the behavior of the ones who would lead the world to disaster. It is time to declare stridently that these crimes against humanity are not being done in our names, or with our consent or approval. We need to strive together every day to bring our troops home and turn our mourning into celebration and our depression into joy.

Honor the dead. Protect the living. End the war.

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