Walter Reed Vigil Report No. 4
This is a good time to reflect on why we are out there. For those standing at the vigil there is no question that we are there for the wounded troops. The troops are not to blame; they are victims. And they have earned the right to speak out. They have earned the right to their full benefits. They should receive the best treatment this country can give them for as long as they need it. And they should not have to go back to this war.
We could go further. We should demand that this government give a full, open accounting to the nation of the numbers of wounded and the types of injuries, both physical and mental. The country is not being told the complete truth about the sacrifices made by our troops, the nature of their terrible wounds and illnesses. These troops will never lead completely normal lives. Even if the physical wounds could heal, the memories of the horrors they witnessed and in some cases committed will never leave them. This will affect their ability to work, have relationships, build families, and ultimately find a measure of happiness in this life. The range will be varied but every single veteran who saw combat will be left with a mark on them until they draw their last breath.
When we've moved on to other causes, our wounded will still be living with this war. We cannot let them be forgotten. We don't want to see Iraqi veterans standing on highway dividers with signs saying, "Help me, I'm an Iraqi War Vet, I'm hungry and need a job!" We don't want to see Iraqi war vets turned into caricatures on television (this has already started to happen), in movies, or books as happened to Vietnam War Vets.
The US government and its supporters only refer to the wounded when it suits their purposes, to help promote the war, and more war, and more killing and maiming and destroying in the name of words that lose all meaning in their mouths.
Each of us stands at the Vigil because we have not lost sight of the real cost of war. That the price of a policy of violence and force is a very real price and can't be justified by a romantic appeal to vague notions. Bombs tear apart little bodies. They burn and dismember our own soldiers. If we can weep for the loss of New Orleans-why are we not also weeping for the ruin of a whole nation? How was our invasion of Iraq different from the terrible storm that struck our Gulf Coast? Well, hurricanes don't have hidden agendas. Hurricanes don't rationalize with lies. "God" did not see fit to stop the US/Brit invasion of Iraq or Katrina. We have to have real answers for real problems. The people standing the Vigil are doing more than praying. They are standing up for the truth. That takes a kind of courage most people can't find in themselves. Standing the vigil will get you no medals or honors. You will be called vile names and accused of the most hurtful things. Even those you stand there for will not understand. But if there is anything holy in this world, it is the actions of people who will take the time to stand up. You can't stand up to a hurricane. You can stand up to a government that is doing wrong. You can stand up to those who cling to the outmoded belief that war is the way to solve the world's problems.
We stand there on the corner in front of Walter Reed Medical Center saying simply but with spirit, let us respect life. Societies and economies based solely on greed, self interest, the exploitation of others, and the suppression of thought and the freedom to love must be overthrown-by their own people-not with guns and violence-but with the willingness to stand up. To stop ignoring the pain and suffering that does not have to be. Life is hard enough. Why do we hurt each other? Why do we stand by and watch pain and injustice without objecting?
The Vigil is a reminder of all these questions and more. Because we are saying, you can't support the war and say you are supporting the troops. You can't support war and say you respect the wounded. No. They paid a price for us. They were made to go for us. We owe them. We don't owe them words. We owe them actions. The vigil is a very small action but it is something-and it says we will not forget.
How could Bush and his underlings go on vacation and not make a stop at Walter Reed to visit the wounded? Why isn't Bush inside Walter Reed washing their wounds, tending to their broken bodies? The mothers of the wounded are there. They can never forget their children. He sent them to lose their limbs. And more. He owes them. He owes them big time. He needs to beg their forgiveness and promise never to do anything like this again. Bush needs to go to Louisiana and Mississippi and beg for forgiveness and promise to find a way to make up for his negligence and dysfunctional leadership. Someone needs to tell Bush to stop praying to "god" and start communicating with the people. He needs to go to Iraq and beg for forgiveness for invading their country, destroying its infrastructure, throwing it into a state of chaos-and blowing up little bodies. He needs to go to Afghanistan and get down on his knees and beg for forgiveness, for sending bombs and guns to kill innocent Afghani children to make points in his pretend war against an "enemy" we financed for years and who are financed by countries Bush calls friends. He should crawl before the survivors of those who died on September 11, 2001 (oh come on, let's stop calling it 9/11 like its some sort of Nike logo-people died in those planes, people leaped from windows hundreds of feet above the street as the only alternative to being roasted-people died in the Pentagon at their desks) Bush should crawl before them and beg forgiveness for not paying attention to the intelligence that crossed his desk, or worse not caring because he did not have any respect for anyone's life.
George Bush, come out in sack cloth and beg for your country's and the worlds' forgiveness. You promised to "smoke out" Osama and the "terrorists". Now it's time for us to smoke you out.
In the meantime, we will maintain our little vigil in front of Walter Reed Medical Center because we know it is the right thing to do.