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War OK? Listen to Vets
Published on Wednesday, November 20, 2002 by the Madison Capital Times
War OK? Listen to Vets
by Bonnie Block
 

Why don't we listen to our veterans, who have much to say about war based on their firsthand experience?

Let's listen to the testimony of seven veterans at the Sept. 30 hearing in the State Capitol. They pleaded for the United States to consider alternatives to a costly war in Iraq.

Let's listen to the testimony of the Vietnam veteran (at a press conference on the Oct. 7 anniversary of the U.S. war against Afghanistan) who said a war in Iraq will result in his sons and grandsons facing the "ghosts of war" that he is still dealing with 30 years later.

Let's listen to the Veterans for Peace statement of purpose (www.veteransforpeace.org): "We, having dutifully served our nation, do hereby affirm our greater responsibility to serve the cause of world peace and justice. Americans will be secure at home only when there is peace and justice abroad. We remain firmly committed to the abolition of war. ... We know the consequences of American foreign policy because once ... so many of us carried it out. We find it sad that war seems so delightful, so often, to those that have no knowledge of it. We will proudly, and patriotically, continue to denounce war despite whatever misguided sense of euphoria supports it."

Let's listen to the Vietnam Vets Against the War (www.vvaw.org), who say: "We believe that service to our country and communities did not end when we were discharged. We remain committed to the struggle for peace and for social and economic justice for all people. We will continue to oppose senseless military adventures and to teach the real lessons of the Vietnam War. We will do all we can to prevent another generation from being put through a similar tragedy and we will continue to demand dignity and respect for veterans of all eras. This is real patriotism."

Let's listen to the statement currently circulated and already signed by hundreds of veterans (www.veteransforcommonsense.org): "We, the undersigned veterans of the Gulf War, seek to inject common sense into the debate over a possible U.S. war against Iraq by placing the debate in the context of safeguarding our liberty, constitutional values and our freedom. As veterans, we know firsthand the effects of war, and the meaning of sacrifice." These gulf vets urge us all to "examine whether an invasion of Iraq would further destabilize the region, cause more terror attacks against the United States, distract us from the war against terror, or lead people to join anti-U.S. terrorist organizations."

What if we listened to these veterans rather than the warhawks who are willing to send our sons and daughters off to die? What if we showed these veterans their sacrifices were not in vain because they taught us that "war is not the answer"?

Bonnie Block of Madison is the acting director of the Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice.

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