Local Vigil for Iraq Victims

Guest Post by Jacquie Gist

For those who may not know, MoveOn is sponsoring vigils nationwide tonight to mark the 1,000th American military death in this dirty war. Actually if you count civilian contractors, which the White House does not, the 1,000th death occured weeks ago. The vigil for our community will be at the Franklin St Post Office at 8pm today. Since we will be joining with thousands of vigils around the country it really does matter if folks show up. For more information, visit action.moveon.org/vigil/ .

Jacquie is a member of the Carrboro Board of Aldermen.

[We apologize for a technical problem which delayed the posting of this time-sensitive item. -Ed.]



Peace Vigil
Good turnout at tonight's vigil to honor the 1,000 dead in Iraq*. I would call it about 150 people (including a photographer from TIME magazine!). Here’s a lousy picture (by my phone, pardon the lack of fidelity).

I think we challenged a lot...

I am sure that a vast majority of military families in the U.S., and a vast majority of appreciative Iraqi's would be disgusted with this peace protest calling itself a vigil.

As someone who actually supports our troops via the USO, and ThankOurTroops.com, I deal with tons of military families, soldiers, airmen, and marines. I have yet to find ONE who does not believe the Iraq war has been justified on a humanitarian basis alone. I get e-mails almost daily from the front lines.

You people are only fooling yourselves, and being fools!

Todd, you are of course entitled to your disgust, but you don't own patriotism. Many people oppose this war on the grounds that it is damaging our national security, as well as being a humanitarian debacle for Iraq. Here are the voices of quite a few veterans, military families, and active duty service members who do not share your viewpoint.

Operation Truth: http://optruth.com/

Bring Them Home Now: http://bringthemhomenow.org/

I get different kinds of e-mails, Todd. Not all of them, but some of them are different. It's complicated, and it's wrong to think that every person in uniform is of the same mind.

I also get monthly e-mails from a fraternity brother of mine who keeps track of our friends/brothers/fellow Marines who have been killed, and the situation of their families and children. Again, the families tend to be of mixed opinion about their loved one's sacrifice. Some are proud, unreservedly; some are proud of their husband's courage but still wondering about its meaning; and one is suicidal.

My only point is to say that it's not useful for anyone to portray the men and women of the armed services as being all of one mind. It's an unreasonable expectation for a group of men and women as diverse in background as the men and women who serve.

We'd all do better not to keep discussing these issues in absolute terms -- it makes people talk past one another when what we really need is civil discussion.

I said vast majority, not ALL.

I don't think it's civil to pretend to have a vigil, when in fact you are protesting the actions of those who sacrificed their lives.

In the words of a famous president, "There you go again."

Is it impossible for you to see that one can protest the war, and the decisions of our country's leaders, without "protesting the actions of those who sacrificed their lives?" I guess not. It's the endless debate: can you support the troops and not support the war? I think you can, and you think you can't. We'll never resolve that one.

Since you never served in the military, I suppose it's a hard concept for you to grasp, but once you're in, and you've taken the oath, you go where you're told. You may support the war, you may hate the war, but you go. No one in the chain of command gives one good damn what you think about the war and its consequences, nor will you ever be asked. It is therefore simply _wrong_ to conflate a protest of the war with a protest of the individual actions of individual soldiers and Marines, who really have little to say about what they're doing.

It's a very short step from this kind of conflation of one thing with another, to the idea that when it comes to the policies of our president, l'etat c'est moi -- that is, to be critical of the president is somehow un-American and unpatriotic. I'm sometimes afraid you've already crossed that line.

I'm surprised at you. I thought you were a conservative. I thought you would understand that it's a citizen's duty to stand up to the government when you're of the opinion that the government has gone off the tracks and conducting itself in a way that no longer represents you, all the while doing it in your name.

If you can't see the difference between a protest of the war, and a protest of individual soldiers's actions, there's simply no hope of having a civil discussion with you on this topic.

Maybe this will help you understand. I wrote it three years ago:


"There are thousands who are in opinion opposed to slavery and to the war, who yet in effect do nothing to put an end to them; who, esteeming themselves children of Washington and Franklin, sit down with their hands in their pockets, and say that they know not what to do, and do nothing; who even postpone the question of freedom to the question of free trade, and quietly read the prices-current along with the latest advices from Mexico, after dinner, and, it may be, fall asleep over them both. What is the price-current of an honest man and patriot today?"

Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience

Speaking to Todd individually, I agree with you that to many people who did not know the purpose of this vigil it could easily be seen as a peace protest. I was personally disappointed that signs displaying phrases such as "1000 dead...how many more" and "be at peace" were brought as opposed to those saying things like "we honor those who have sacrificed their lives in iraq doing their jobs".

Speaking to everyone, regardless of whether or not we supported the war initially, support it now, and/or will continue to support it indefinately, we have a moral obligation and hopefully a desire to support our troops being ordered to fight this war. This action is fundamentally patriotic and I would be very interested to hear an arguement from anyone showing that it is wrong to support our troops as a whole. Our troops do their jobs as ordered by our government, and as such personal opinions relating to the war and its purpose should not be directed toward our troops, but to our government. There may be instances where either one's environment, or own desires have caused them to commit "atrocities" such as torture in Iraqi prisons or indiscriminate killing in Vietnam, it is not our place to assume this is representative of the motivations of all troops, nor that it is even their own faults. Vietnam has shown that war can turn good boys into terrible men, by no fault of their own.

The basic message I want to send is that the vigil last night was a result of coordination between MoveOnPac and Win Without War meant to show our support and gratification for the sacrifices made by our troops and their families overseas in Iraq. Those who took the opportunity to put a false label on it for the sake of their own ambitions were wrong, and in a way have disrespected those who were their for the vigil's true purpose, and those who we were honoring. It took the focus away from something unilaterally noble. Protesting for peace, or supporting the war are great things and are basic rights given to us as Americans. However, disrespecting those who are here for a different purpose, and disregarding the ground rules set by MoveOnPac required to be obeyed during registration is wrong on every level. A chance for us to show that we can be united in a unilaterally noble and good cause has ultimately been fated to be split, just like our country currently is.

Thank you to everyone who came out to participate in the vigils to show their support and gratification to those giving their lives in the act of doing their jobs in Iraq, as well as to their families and friends.

Age 17, HS Senior

Kids always are better at explaining this stuff than we adults. Thanks Wizim.

I have posted this before on this site, but apparently it is needed again. The below poem was written by a girl name Janessa, who was 11 last year when she wrote it. Half of her family is serving overseas, and this is how she feels about the subject:

War Through The Eyes of A Child

My mommy and daddy have gone to fight,
To do what they know is just and right.

Protestors chant, "No war in Iraq",
While my parents fight to bring freedom back.

Americans sleep safe and snug in their beds,
While my mom and dad endure bombs overhead.

They fight for you and they fight for me,
So that terrorist threats will never be.

Please stop protesting and support the war,
So that my mom and dad can open a door,

To a future where children will only know peace,
Because the bell of freedom will never cease.

Pray for our troops who fight for us all,
So as Americans we may always stand tall.

For the free and the brave we should all take a hand,
To form a circle of love for those who fight in the sand.

My parents sacrifice is their greatest gift of love,
God's hand is safely holding them from heaven's gate above.

Please don't cry a tear for me for this I surely know,
My parents will come home to me to watch me as I grow

~Jenessa Alexis ~


Jenessa is a very special girl. She has made over 100,000 handmade bracelets for the military people serving our country, and others. I have been blessed to be able to help her efforts by gathering some resources for the effort.


I'm sure your intention is good and heartfelt, but to me it's exploitive. Do you really think an 11-year-old has the political awareness to understand the complex issues behind this war? For what it's worth, I feel the same about children who are against the war. Kids up to a certain age adopt their parents political viewpoints. Let's not exploit them. Wizim asked for us to understand Thursday night's vigil was not about the war but rather to honor and respect individuals who serve their country. That's a different discussion than whether the war is right or wrong.

Terri Buckner

I was not the one to call a war protest a vigil. Those who did are the exlpoiters.

Samuel L. Clemens (Mark Twain) wrote his short story, "The War Prayer," as a satircal response to Philippine-American War of 1899-1902.

You can read the entire story at:


For a little clarity.

"Hi my name is Jenessa Alexis and I am twelve years old. This site was developed in honor of my Uncle Mike who is serving in Iraq. My Aunt Jody and my cousins Phoenix and Corbin are based in Germany while he is in Iraq. I miss and love you all.
This is also for you. It is also dedicated to the men and women serving our country and the children who love them."

Maybe for a little more clarity.

"O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle-be Thou near them! With them, in spirit, we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe. O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with their little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it-for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet! We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen."

Sorry Wizim, Moveon does not own the space in front of the Franklin Street Post Office. That is public space, and you're allowed to stand there with whatever sign you want. Kerry and Edwards hold their rallies in spaces where they can carefully censor attendees (and Bush is even worse). Fortunately, that was not the spirit of the vigil on Thursday.
I have to say, I'm a little tired of 'support the troops' rhetoric. The American military is not involved in some sort of humanitarian mission in Iraq. Yesterday, a US helicopter rained death from above over a crowd gathered around a burning US vehicle--a journalist screamed 'I'm dying, I'm dying' before in fact dying on air. Many reports indicate it is US policy to spray an area with gunfire after any attack--this has resulted in numerous civilian casualties. In Fallujah, there were reports that US snipers were targeting the drivers of ambulances. Meanwhile, official US policy towards detainees involves what amounts to torture--sleep deprivation, disorienting sounds, etc. Who knows what the unofficial practices really are? Small wonder many in the Arab world were disappointed that so much attention was focused on the 1,000 US troop death (does anyone in the US care about the 100+ US 'contractors' or our 'coalition' partners who've been killed?) when so little has been said about the 10,000+ Iraqis killed. If you do not believe the US military can be involved in such things, I strongly suggest you join civil disobedience actions at the next major protest and see for yourself what US police are getting away with it at home.

Look, besides confusing supporting the troops with supporting the war, I also see that most Americans have accepted Iraq as part of the war on terror. that Iraq was a terroist regime before the war. Before you accuse me of loving Sadaam, I think that it is important to realize that pre-war Iraq had nothing to do with Al-Qaeda, September 11th, or global terroism. They were guilty of human rights violations, but we all know that America would not have been sold on the war if we thought we were ending tyranny. If that was the case we would be in Darfur right now. Ask yourselves, would tens of thousands of Iraqis be dead if we had not fought Sadaam? Would America be in danger? Would the world still be behind us instead of against us, and would we have captured Usama yet? We need to see that we have been the victims of the ol' bait and switch, and this war was not for safety, not for the Iraqis, and not to defeat terroism, but to create a beachhead in which we can control the Middle East and their resources.


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