Veterans Take Antiwar Call on Road
BOSTON - The Boston chapter of Iraq Veterans Against the War, formed this month in an Allston restaurant by a handful of former soldiers and Marines, is planning to take its call for immediate withdrawal from Iraq to all major military bases along the East Coast.
The chapter is the 17th in a growing national movement by veterans of the four-year-old conflict. To Liam Madden, a former Marine sergeant who served in Anbar Province, the group's goal has taken on increasing urgency.
"I believe that the war in Iraq is based on lies, and I don't think people should be dying or killing for lies," said Madden, 22, who lives in Boston's North End.
"The best way the United States and the people in this country can support the troops is not with a bumper sticker or a yellow ribbon, but in urging our leadership to get them home and out of harm's way."
Madden, who is president of the Boston chapter, said he served in Iraq for seven months in 2004 and 2005. "Every Iraqi I passed had eyes full of fear and rage and hopelessness," said Madden, whose four years in the Marine Corps ended in January.
The bus tour of East Coast bases, scheduled for June, will stretch from Fort Drum, N.Y., to military installations around Washington to Fort Benning, Ga., and other bases in the Deep South, Madden said. The group will not try to enter the bases, but will sponsor barbecues nearby, where active-duty soldiers and others can hear the veterans present their case.
"We're abandoning the idea of having a speech or having some sort of rally," Madden said. "Instead, this will be very much a social endeavor. We're going to get troops used to the idea that we're not some out-there group. We are, in fact, more able to relate to the troops than any other organization."
Despite his views on the war, Madden credited the Marine Corps with helping to give him discipline and maturity when he was looking for a constructive challenge.
Less than two weeks old, the Boston chapter of Iraq Veterans Against the War has begun to promote its message. Madden said he already has spoken at Providence City Hall and at a Jamaica Plain church.
The group is open to anyone who has served in the active-duty military, reserves, or National Guard since Sept. 11, 2001.
Brian MacQuarrie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
© 2007 The Boston Globe