Oregon Military Families Speak Out - One Last Airing Tuesday Night
I watched the Oregon Military Families Speak Out show last night on Portland Community Media, and several things hit me. First, I hadn't realized that the interviews weren't just of relatives who had lost someone in Iraq. It covered other possibilities including a mother with a son over there now, a mother with a daughter alive but badly injured, and a mother with a son who's back, but has the invisible mental wounds from going through what he did. Of course, the relatives describing the fateful phone call or visit from the Marines, were the hardest to watch.
Second, one relative mentioned the overwhelming strain this has put on the Veteran's Administration. Apparently, Vietnam Vets still dealing with problems from that war are being pushed aside to try and deal with the gigantic new work load. We have so many new veterans of war. I felt a weariness realizing that no matter if Iraq ended tomorrow, we're going to be living with this disaster for the rest of our lives. 4 years in, and this has already become a 70-year burden in both money and emotions. If it stopped tomorrow, the Iraq War will end in around the year 2077. That's a long wait to move past an avoidable mistake, and it's why wars should only be fought if they are absolutely necessary.
Thirdly, I felt that close-call feeling, when you had a moral decision to make and you fortunately made the right one. Several of these family members talked about their distain for the media. One mother singled out FOX news, but they included everybody who helped present the government's fraudulent marketing job on this. I am so glad I wrote the columns prior to the invasion, discussing Iraq in negative terms. They might have led to my departure from the Portland Tribune, but if I had skipped them, and played it safe, or worst yet, if I had sold out and written in support of the Iraq War because that's the way the political winds were blowing at the time....well, then I would always feel guilty.
When I was going to boarding school, some rich kids organized a charter to fly down to Washington for one of the big protests against Vietnam. I sought out permission to go from the uncle who was acting as my guardian, and everything was ready. At the last minute, I decided against it. I was probably 16 or 17 and it was a bad decision. I based it completely on how much these rich preppies annoyed me, but when it was all said and done, I wish I had gone and protested the Vietnam War. It was a mistake and I regret it.
This time around, I'm not a kid anymore. I've seen this movie before and I give it a thumbs down. I still don't go to protests but I use what reach I have in the media to weigh in on how wretched this is, at every opportunity. Nationally, it's through jokes, including one reprinted in Time magazine. Locally, I do the cable access show, and I rant on this blog. The thing that gives me chills is that I could have easily ducked the issue when I was writing for the Portland Tribune. In fact, these right wing types here in town who participated willingly in marketing this, should have to watch this show. It airs again Tuesday night at 6 on Channel 22. Go ahead. Check out what your efforts and tough talk have led to for these families. I dare you.
Americans who are against this war but who aren't really doing anything to stop it, should definitely watch the program, but be warned: It's not easy looking into a mother's eyes, who's wondering why you did nothing while President Bush and Dick Cheney sent her son off to die for a hoax. Worse yet is doing nothing to save the next American casualties, now that we know for sure about the lies the Bush administration created to get us into Iraq. Tuesday night, Channel 22, 6 p.m.