Thursday, March 25, 2010

New York City's Seven Years Too Many Coalition Protests the Iraq War on Its 7th Anniversary

This article was co-written with Edith Cresmer of the Granny Peace Brigade

On March 20, 2003, the United States invaded Iraq, a country that posed no threat and that had done us no wrong. The invasion was justified by then-President George W. Bush on the basis that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction which it was ready to launch against us. These lies ultimately led to the deaths, maiming and displacement of millions of innocent Iraqi civilians, and the deaths, maiming and mental breakdowns of thousands upon thousands of U.S. and allied troops engaged in this great folly.

On Saturday, March 20, 2010, a beautiful, unseasonably warm day, the eighth year of our occupation of Iraq began. Although we are told that officially we are no longer fighting there, that we have pulled back our forces, nevertheless our soldiers continue to die there. And, so do many more Iraqis.

And, the American people seem to be oblivious to the fact that our young American treasures are still dying and suffering horrendous injuries in these useless and destructive wars.

It is way past time for us to pull out, and yet we remain. Why?

To commemorate the end of our seven years of illegal and immoral attack and occupation of Iraq and to alert the public that the wars are still an urgent issue, a compendium of 10 New York City peace groups called the Seven Years Too Many Coalition gathered at the Times Square Recruiting Center to protest the continuation of the war and to call for the end of all wars.

Cheryl Wertz, Exec, Director of Peace Action New York State (PANYS) introduced the speakers -- Councilwoman Gale Brewer, and Vietnam vet Chaplain Hugh Bruce of Veterans for Peace. They discussed some of the terrible effects of war on people at home -- lost jobs, libraries, fire companies, and teachers -- and even worse effects on the people of Iraq and on our G.I.s.

Literature was handed out with facts about the terrible results and the absurdity of war.

Demonstrators chanted: How do you measure the cost of War? How Many? and How Much?

And answered Too Many, too Many . . . and Too Much, too Much.

Protesters wore signs with the answers: Killed to date: American soldiers - 4,382; Coalition Soldiers - 4,700; Iraqi civilians - 95,606-to 104,304; Journalists - 140.

Wounded to date: U. S. soldiers - 31,616; NYS soldiers - 1,669.

Displaced Iraqis: 4,900,000.

Spent in Iraq to date: $712 Billion. Spent by NYC: $25 Billion

But, this was a two-day demonstration. The day before, on March 19, we stood in front of the Chambers Street recruiting center, laughingly officially named the Army Career Center. Some career, isn't it, to be taught to kill and to look forward to being blown up in a foreign land we have no business being in?

We displayed banners and signs and passed out literature there to the many students from a nearby high school and college walking by, and then moved down the street to the Marine Corps Career Center where we continued our rally.

We ended our march at the site of the World Trade Center where the many visiting tourists, most from foreign countries, and nearby workers enthusiastically greeted us and received our fliers. We couldn't help but think how ironic it was that the tragic explosion of the WTC was used falsely as rationalization for attacking two countries which were not responsible for it.

We earnestly hope that we will not have to demonstrate for an Eighth Year Anniversary of our continued occupation of Iraq.

President Obama, are you listening?

(Participating groups in the Seven Years Too Many Coalition:
CODE PINK NYC; Grandmothers Against the War; Granny Peace Brigade; Greenwich Village Coalition for Peaceful Priorities; North Manhattan Neighbors for Peace & Justice; NYC United for Peace & Justice ; NYC War Resisters League; Peace Action New York State; Veterans for Peace Chapter 34 NYC; West Side Peace Action)

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