Military families, vets, and GIs march at Ft. Bragg
By Lou Plummer of Military Families Speak Out
At 12 noon, just over 1000 demonstrators fell in behind a contingent of veterans and military families and swung out of the assembly point onto the main drag in Fayetteville, home of Fort Bragg and other military facilities. Behind a banner with the demo's slogan –"Real Support for Our Troops: Bring Them Home Now!" – Veterans For Peace members in the lead contingent started chanting marching cadences. Call and response rang over the Fayetteville streets:
One year ago this very day
Bush betrayed the USA
A year of lies has come and gone
Time to bring our children home!
Bush and Cheney talk that talk
But we know they're chicken hawks
If they think they're so damn right
Let Bush and Cheney go and fight!
When the GIs come back home
And take off their uniform
"Support our Troops" will sure sound fine
On the unemployment line!
Sound Off: One, Two
Sound Off: Three, Four
Bring It On Down: One, Two, Three, Four,
One, Two, THREE FOUR
On a beautiful spring day, the march proceeded to Rowan Park for what even veteran activists agreed was one of the best and most inspiring rallies they had ever attended.
Among the crowd who sat and listened as speaker after speaker spoke from the heart against this disastrous occupation were perhaps a half dozen active duty soldiers, in civvies but with unmistakable "high and tight" military haircuts. They listened, and talked earnestly with activists like Philadephia VFP's Mike Hoffman, who recently ETSed from the Marine artillery company he served in during the invasion last year.
Throughout, the voices of military families and veterans of wars rang out. Some well known voices in this growing movement, like Nancy Lessin of Military Families Speak Out, David Potorti of September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, Michael McPhearson of Veterans for Peace and MFSO, served as voices for those in whose name Bush and company claim to speak.
Others who took the stage were among those have begun speaking out more recently. Camilo Mejia's aunt, Norma, read greetings from the Army Staff Sergeant who has just turned himself in and applied for conscientious objector status after being AWOL since October. Elaine Johnson from Cordoba, SC seemed hesitant as she approached to the stage and then stepped firmly to the mike and delivered a searing condemnation of the administration and the policy that left her son Darius dead in Iraq.
Beth Pratt's husband drives trucks in convoys in Iraq, highly vulnerable to attack by roadside bombs planted by the Iraqi armed resistance. She told the crowd how important the demonstration was, because opposing the war in a military town, "You can feel very isolated and alone. Ending this war and bringing them all home safely would be the best form of support that I can see.
“We will not be silent, we will not be obedient, and we will not stand down”
Ret’d Special Forces Master Sergeant Stan Goff’s March 20th to the Fayetteville/Ft. Bragg rally
Welcome to all the partisans of peace. Welcome to Fayetteville. Welcome, people of conscience. Welcome, families, whose loved ones are under arms in the service of a system they don't yet understand. Welcome, soldiers, because I am one of you, and welcome veterans who can say to soldiers, as if we were the dead, that as you are, we once were, and as we are, you shall be. Welcome home to those who have been sent to inflict and to suffer pain and grief in the service of avarice and ambition. My own son is among you. I was among you. Welcome back into our sight and our hearts. Welcome home. There have been too many of you who have not come back whole, and far too many who have come home not at all.
These are hard times and harsh times, and they call for harsh words, and they call for clarity that sometimes seems almost cruel, and they call for a sense of purpose that has passion.
The Bush administration is a gangster administration, and they have used gangster tactics at home and abroad, and they have signed our names to their crimes, and they have spent our treasure on their crimes, and they have spilled out children's blood and the blood of the children of others to commit their crimes, and we have had – by God – enough.
And we are not going to sit idly by and pretend about this. We are not going to pretend that we haven't heard that John Kerry's only criticism of this war is that is isn't being fought competently. We are not going to pretend that this is not about oil. We are not going to pretend that this was an intelligence failure. We are not going to pretend that this is something we can change by being civil or by being obedient. We will not be civil with gangsters, and we'd better learn to quit obeying them. Because it is our obedience that do-signs their crimes, and it is our silence that will make us complicit.
So we will not be silent, and we will not be obedient, and we will not stand down - no matter how long it takes, no matter the cost, no matter the effort, because we are fighting for our children and our grandchildren who we will not surrender to gangsters.
We are not going away. This may be called the instant gratification society, but hear us right now, George Bush and Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld and John Kerry for that matter — we are not an instant gratification movement, and we are not here to make deals with the lives of our children or the children of others.
NOT ONE MORE DAY.
NOT ONE MORE DIME.
NOT ONE MORE LIFE.
NOT ONE MORE LIE.
BRING THEM ALL HOME NOW!