Archive for May, 2009

Memorial Day 2009

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

This year, I participated in a program of remembering that was very moving for me.  Here is that program.


Let us remember those who are now or who were in the past victims of fascism and war.  We will include in this remembrance the living and dead military personnel of the United States and other fascist countries, because the agents of these countries who have to perpetrate unspeakable horrors on other human beings are not the least of those harmed as well as the victims of these horrors.

Music:  Shostakovich’s Eighth String Quarter in c minor –to the victims of fascism and war

Let us listen.

Readings: Poems in memory of the living and the dead

Let us listen to the poems.

Memento Mori

Adam, leading a dog on a leash,
Hurries through a still, quiet group
Of somber people, many of them old,
Who watch a man load the light and colorful
But unwieldy remains of its cargo
Into a dark vehicle.
Annoyed, Adam tries to proceed
As though nothing were there.
The intransigent car, however, blocks his path,
So he must go around it,
Seeking another route.
Thwarted by a fence,
He turns back and slips this time behind the crowd
To his original destination, the side of the church
Where the fence does not reach the ground.
His back to the people,
He releases the dog, which jumps into the yard
To run under the shrubbery,
Stopping in all the accustomed places;
While the others, absorbed by the black car,
Continue to watch the struggle with the flowers
That resist entering it.

David Smith-Ferri, American poet, saw a bomb shelter that had become a tomb for over 400 Iraqis when two “smart” American missles went into a ventilation shaft and killed everyone inside. He writes:

My eyes were never meant to see this,
to flare like torch, sudden with knowledge,
like windows, to open on this illuminative dawn,
but like tinder in its box (named American, middle class)
to remain cold, untouched,
and far from flintstone truth.

Quoted in TruthOut of 29 November 2008

Names:  In order that the US service members and those of its allies who have died in Iraq not be invisble to us, as the US government wants them to be, let us listen to a reading of the names of some of those who have died.

Those killed in Iraq from Apr 29 to May 5 2007:
Pvt Jay Ornsby-Adkins 21 Ione CA
Sgt Glenn Hicks Jr 24 College Station TX
Pvt Paul Donnachie 18 Berkshire UK
Pvt Brian Botello 19 Alta IA
Sgt Alexander Funcheon 21 Bel Aire KS
Sgt Jay Martin 29 Baltimore MD
Ltn Travis Manion 26 Doylestown PA
Maj Nick Bateson 49 Kent UK
Pvt Zachary Gullett 20 Hillsboro OH
Cpl Johnathan Kirk 25 Bellhaven NC
Spc Astor Pineda 20 Long Beach CA
Ltn Ryan Jones 23 Massachusetts
Pvt Katie Soenksen 19 Davenport IA
Spc Andrew Weiss 28 Lafayette IN
Ltn Colby Umbrell 26 Doylestown PA
Spc Matthew Bolar 24 Montgomery AL
Spc Kelly Grothe 21 Spokane WA
Sgt Coby Schwab 25 Puyallup WA
Pvt John Flores 21 Barrigada GUAM
Sgt Felix Gonzalez 25 Sun Valley CA
Pvt Jerome Potter 24 Tacoma WA
Sgt Christopher Hamlin 24 London KY
Pvt Larry Guyton 22 Brenham TX
Cpl Charles Palmer II Manteca CA
Sgt Kenneth Mack 42 Fort Worth TX

125 were seriously maimed.

53 were returned to killing fields.

In addition, more than 414 or our Iraqi sisters and brothers were killed that week.

Names:  It is not known for sure how many Iraqis have died since the illegal US invasion of that country, but it is over a million.

Let us listen to the names of those most recently included in a list of known civilians killed.

Hashim Kamel Radi, 22, on a bus, March 09
Jalal al-Yussuf, 17, Zambrania, March 09
Ibrahim al-Yussuf, 12, Zambrania, March 09
Ahmed Al-Rahal, Communications building, March 20, 09
Sufian al-Batayneh, Jordanian student, near Mosul, 22 March 09
Abdullah al-Ababneh, Jordanian student, near Mosul, 22 Mar 09
Ahmand al_enezi, Jordanian student, near Mosul, 22 Mar 09
Omran al_Serihaine, Jordanian student, near Mosul, 22 Mar 09
Feteha Ghazzi, 8, NE of Baghdad, 24 Mar 09
Um Aqeel_Khalil, mother-in-law of Sahar, N. Baghdad, 24 Mar 09
Sahar Khalil, daughter-in-law of Um, N. Baghdad, 24 Mar 09
Khowla Abdel-Fattah, 70, N. Baghdad, 24 Mar 09
Samad Rabai, Al Shaab, Baghdad, 26 Mar 09
Faris El Baur, 11, Al Shaab Market, Baghdad, 26 Mar 09
Saif El Baur, 11, Al Shaab Market, Baghdad, 26 Mar 09
Marwa Abbas, 11, Baghdad, Mar 09
Tabarek Abbas, 8, Baghdad, Mar 09
Safia Abbas, 5, Baghdad, Mar 09
Qassem Moussa, 42 (teacher), Hilla, 27 Mar 09

Reading:  Book of Sirach

Let us listen

1] Let us now praise famous men, and our fathers in their generations.
[8] There are some of them who have left a name, so that men declare their praise.
[9] And there are some who have no memorial, who have perished as though they had not lived;
they have become as though they had not been born, and so have their children after them.

Response:  A person attending was asked to respond to what was heard.

Anthem:  The Star Spangled Banner

Francis Scott Key wrote the poem that is used as the national anthem of the United States of American when the new nation was again at war with England (War of 1812). A prisoner on a British ship himself, though an American agent was also there negotiating his release, he was not permitted to leave the ship during the Battle of Baltimore because he knew too much about the position of the British ships and troops.

He was only able to watch helplessly the bombarding of the American forces at Fort Henry during the night of September 13-September 14, 1814. When the smoke cleared away, he saw that the flag of the young United States of America had not been struck by the enemy and knew that the battle was won.

The United States is under attack again, but not from an external enemy. It may yet vanquish the internal forces that are at work to defeat it: fear, greed, hatred, ignorance, apathy, if enough of us are willing to do what we can to restore our government and our rights and liberties, to be “free” and “brave.”

Let us listen to our national anthem.

Creative Action:

The United States government was formed by those who revolted against a repressive tyranny that did not stop at oppression of its own citizens and torture of those who resisted. The Constitution was meant to make for peaceful ongoing revolution. Unfortunately, that Constitution has been vitiated by people who have put in its place another tyranny that does not stop at oppression of its own citizens and torture of those who resist it.

Let us use our creative genius and energy to make some metaphor for freedom of all people, human and civil rights and liberties, and justice for all. We can make a song or a dance or a visual representation or a poem or a story or anything that we choose.

More News of Lt. Ehren Watada

Friday, May 15th, 2009


Lt. Ehren Watada

Since the story of Ehren Watada began while I was at Camp Casey and people there were involved in it from the beginning, I want to report on new developments and remind myself what he did and why he is important to me personally.  In a report that Patrice sent in October of 2006 you can read this:

Lt. Watada served a year in Korea, and his next deployment was to be to Iraq. Back at Fort Lewis in Washington, in preparation for his next deployment, he was told to educate himself about the war in Iraq, so he could explain to soldiers why they were being asked to go to war, and possibly give their lives for their country.

Characteristically, he took seriously the order to learn, and read all he could about events that led to the war, among other things, and about the ‘weapons of mass destruction’ that were supposed to be in Iraq. He learned a lot, and twice made formal attempts to leave his commission. He was refused, and then became the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse deployment to the Iraq War and occupation.

Lt. Watada stated: I refuse to be silent any longer. I refuse to be party to an illegal and immoral war against people who did nothing to deserve our aggression. Help oppose this war and end it so that all soldiers can come home.

Here is a link to an article in TruthOut, whose reporter Geoffrey Millard was in residence at Camp Casey when I was, and which has followed this story since it began.

The article quotes Jeff Patterson of an organization that supports military resisters, “Ehren Watada was instrumental in putting the issue of the legality of the Iraq war front and center for not only military resisters but for activists in general at a time when it wasn’t as widely discussed as it is today.”

Patterson continues, “Until a whole unit refuses to fight, I don’t think there is any individual case that’s going to resonate like Ehren’s,”

Shall we see a entire unit refuse to fight?  I know that Iraq Veterans Against the War and Veterans for Peace, organizations which have moral authority with military personnel that others might not, are working to bring about such things.  I support them.

I remember poignantly the comments of Iraq Veterans Against the War at Camp Casey, all enlisted men, who wished that their officers had had the courage of Lt. Watada and had spoken out.  These brave and principled veterans expressed a need I feel, too, and that is of leaders, persons with what Lt. Watada has: knowledge and expertise, principled courage, and unshakable resolution.

Lt. Watada is my teacher, has been since I went to Camp Casey and his journey began.  I remembered his words when I refused in April to pay all of my taxes while this country wages illegal wars and perpetrates war crimes and crimes against humanity.  I am not so brave and principled as Lt. Watada, but I continue to make a small stand.

And like Lt. Watada, I urge everyone to oppose these wars and to end them and bring all our personnel home and stop killing and destroying.