This video may contain images depicting the reality and horror of war/violence and should only be viewed by a mature audience.
Sent to Dandelion Salad by Juliea
This is one of the coolest things I’ve ever done in my life. It started with an idea I had and evolved into a very successful, moving event that changed my life and proved to me that ANYONE can absolutely make an impact or a difference if they so choose to.
Thanks to everyone who participated, I can never fully express in words what your presence meant to me that day.
Here is the video that we created that day – please watch and re post wherever possible. That day was not just for us, and it was not just that day – thanks to the Internet we can show the world what we did and our message can resonate with many more than the over 200 people that showed up and witnessed the awesome demonstration. As I type this this video has been viewed over 700 times – more than three times the people that came and laid down that day. Let’s keep it going.
The people who have gathered here today are from all backgrounds. From the business owner to the unemployed. From every spectrum of the rainbow, to every sexuality, spirituality and morality. Young, old, from near and far. We are beyond labels. We are Americans that have gathered here for one purpose. To lay our bodies down before the City of Grand Rapids to demonstrate our dissent for a war and a society lifestyle that has claimed far too many lives and has gone on for far too long. We are here to honor the 133,241 men, women and children who have lost their lives, and the millions more effected by the loss throughout the world. We are here to remember not only our own people, but the soldiers from around the world – and the innocent Iraqi citizens who have unfortunately fallen prey to American politics. We are here to appeal to humanity that the need to awaken and begin to make peace and prosperity our only priority is now. This is not about liberal and conservative, this is about neighborhoods, people’s lives, society as a whole. We must look out for each others best interest in order to achieve peace.
We are here to demand a better future for ourselves, for our children and for everyone else on this planet. We believe that all human life is valuable and that all are deserving of a life of peace and free will. We believe that if there is no leadership capable of solving problems without resorting to violence, then there is no leadership. And, if there is no leadership, then we must lead. We must be responsible for creating a life of peace if no one else will. This is OUR country. This is OUR world. No one person is above or below another, and it’s time that we learn from our violent past and find a peaceful solution for today and forever.
Each of these bodies represents a life lost. We think it is important to give Grand Rapids and the world a visual of the reality behind this war. The number of soldiers and the number of civilians who have violently lost their lives are much more than just a number – each number was a life. A life of laughter, tears, emotion, concern and LOVE. A life much like your own and as valuable as your own. The bodies here represent a tiny fraction of the real loss. But, imagine for just a moment all of Grand Rapids dead, everyone you know, dead. It’s easy to look the other way or not see it so clearly when the war isn’t on our soil. When the death isn’t in our faces. Our government prohibits any filming or family at the site where the lost soldiers caskets come home. We feel this is another way for the American people to be protected from the true devastation this war is causing.
To fully understand the war in Iraq and Afghanistan and the motivation behind it from an American perspective, we must go back to the psychological attack on Americans and the world abroad on September 11th, 2001. A case that has been widely disputed and questioned by people all over the world. A day that unified America and then divided her almost just as quickly. The truth movement began with police men, fire men, witnesses, victims and friends and family of victims who felt they weren’t getting the whole story. They ask questions and seek truth, yet are often written off as conspiracy theorists. How can a movement for truth – not a movement convinced it has the answers, but a movement seeking them be considered conspiracy theorists? Are the police, fire men and witness’ of the attack also conspiracy theorists when recounting details that don’t match up to the official report’s explanation for what happened? How can we not see this as a blatant attempt to cover up what really happened that day? And, if they are not trying to hide something then what’s the harm in answering the questions? Especially if the questions are legitimate and posed by witnesses and victims.
Also, why are the first responders unable to get their pensions and adequate health care for the illnesses they got while rescuing and cleaning up the aftermath of 9-11? Where are these stories in your news reports? Why do these issues go unnoticed?
We know that no one wants to believe that any government would attack or allow others to attack their own people, that they wouldn’t always have it’s citizens and other worldly citizens best interest at heart. But, we have to consider that this has happened many times throughout history, and the motivation behind this is almost always to gain popular support for a war. To psychologically attack it’s citizens into a state of fear and anger towards a supposed enemy. Can we not at least accept this as a possibility in this case, seeing the aftermath of what that day has brought us to? When you start allowing yourself to ask the questions, and you really start digging for answers, it becomes obvious that it’s more than a possibility, it is a probability.
The truth as we are told is that Bin Laden and his extreme terrorist group, which was funded and trained by our government, infiltrated America and it’s airlines and carried out one of the greatest tragedies on American Soil since Pearl Harbor. If this is true, why don’t we ever hear his name mentioned anymore? Where IS Bin Laden? How did we so easily follow this administration off track in talking about Bin Laden and redemption for 9-11, to Iraq, Saddam Hussein and Weapons of Mass Destruction? How for one minute can anyone with open eyes not see clearly that 9-11 was the stepping stone to Afghanistan and the so called “War On Terror”, which was this administrations open doorway to the invasion of Iraq.
Each reason we have been given for our invasion of Iraq has turned out to be a lie – or as President Bush would like to call it – “bad intelligence”. While we agree that the administration does have “bad intelligence”, we do not accept this as a good enough excuse for the consequences that the soldiers and the people of Iraq had to suffer. We believe that people, especially leaders, should be held responsible for their actions. How can we let our leaders get away with lying and then try to teach our children that lying is wrong? Who are our children to look up to in times like these?
September 6, 2006, George Bush made a speech where he confessed to War Crimes of the 1996 War Crimes Act. Admitting that they authorized disappearances, extra judicial imprisonment, torture, transporting prisoners between countries and denying the International committee of the Red Cross access to prisoners, which are all violations of the Geneva Conventions and are punishable by fines, imprisonment, and if death results to the victim, the death penalty. In practically the same breath he appealed to Congress to Amend the War Crimes Act in order to protect himself and the rest of the administration that is involved in these war crimes – and congress did it.
Here are the facts and some of the charges against much of this administration:
George Bush and Dick Cheney ordered a war of aggression against Iraq, which constitutes a crime against peace.
A Crime Against Peace is defined as “planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression, or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances, or participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the foregoing.”
* Iraq never attacked the US or threatened an attack, so the US was NOT acting legally in self-defense, which is permitted under the UN Charter.
* Iraq played NO role in the September 11th 2001 attack on the US and never provided material support to any terrorist group that attacked the US, therefore even the non-legal Bush doctrine of preemptive attack did not apply.
* At the time of the US attack, Iraq was nearing full compliance with UN Resolution 1441 and prior resolutions requiring disarmament, and the majority of the Security Council believed UN inspectors should be given more time, therefore the US was NOT enforcing UN Resolutions as it claims.
* George Bush and Dick Cheney ordered the bombing of civilian areas like Baghdad (where 5 million innocent civilians live) and Basra. This resulted in the deaths of hundreds of non-combatants, in violations of Geneva Convention (IV) relative to the protection of civilian persons in time of war.
* The US used prohibited weapons including cluster bombs and depleted Uranium weapons and
* Submitted false testimonies, lies and fabrications to the public, the media, The United Nations and Congress
This is only the beginning of a long list of crimes that this administration MUST be held accountable for. Instead of being held accountable, they are rewarding themselves by placing Iraq for sale for their friends to buy.
It is a fact that there are MORE contractors than there are soldiers in Iraq. There are approximately 180,000 contractors and about 140,000 troops. They are hired by our government and paid with tax dollars, and are paid two, three sometimes 5 times what our men and women of the military are paid. About 40 – 50,000 of these contractors are actively using military force. The real number to how many of these hired mercenaries have died is unknown because they are not counted and reported. They are hired hit men who are exempt from American and International law, yet are paid with our tax dollars. During Hurricane Katrina, Blackwater – the most primary of these contractors – was hired to patrol the streets and keep criminal activity in order. When a group of mercenaries who are above the law are going into American cities heavily armed and hired by our government, we should be more than concerned. We should be legitimately frightened. At the very least, appalled that our government would hire and outsource jobs and pay them much higher wages for what should and could be the military’s job. We have read letters from soldiers who are frustrated because there are outside companies getting paid three times or more for doing stuff that the men and the women of the military can and have in the past done themselves.
They are contracting outside companies to help them destroy cities and plants, and then contracting them again to rebuild them. This is the first war that has ever been so profitable for all the wrong people, that has been corporately sponsored in record numbers. We have to question why we are allowing our government to spend record amounts of money outsourcing these jobs, yet are incapable of paying for necessities for our soldiers such as armor in combat and care when they return home. How can they spend billions with private companies, yet continue to cut funding for schools and programs for social betterment?
Naomi Klein states:
“One of the things that I think is most important for progressives to challenge is the discourse that everything in Iraq is a disaster. I think we need to start asking and insisting, disaster for who, because not everybody is losing. It’s certainly a disaster for the Iraqi people. It’s certainly a disaster for US taxpayers. But what we have seen—and it’s extremely clear if we track the numbers—is that the worse things get in Iraq, the more privatized this war becomes, the more profitable this war becomes for companies like Lockheed Martin, Bechtel, and certainly Blackwater.
What are the stakes here? The stakes could not be higher. What we are losing is the incentive, the economic incentive, for peace, the economic incentive for stability. When you can create such a booming economy around war and disaster, around destruction and reconstruction, over and over and over again, what is your peace incentive?”
We can not allow ourselves to live in a world where there is no incentive for peace. We can not allow ourselves to live in a world where war profiteering controls societies. We can not allow any of this to go on. We demand PEACE for all Nations, PEACE for America, Peace for Iraq. We must STOP the destruction completely and start focusing on what we have to do for Iraq in order to be able to leave their country strong enough for them to take care of on their own. This is their country, we must not allow the American government to continue to create a debt that will be the Iraqi people’s responsibility, only to ensure that our government can continue to control Iraq and her resources. We said we were in there to liberate, not dominate and colonize. We need to teach peace through EXAMPLE. Not through war.
The question is not whether or not Saddam was a bad leader. We are all aware of the suffering the Iraqi people have been through under his rule. But, this does not excuse the breaking of international laws in order to execute this war, and is not the true motivation behind our invasion of Iraq. There are many questionable leaders in the world to choose from – who pose a greater threat to America – yet we still chose Iraq. Is it really wrong to question what our motives may have truly been?
We stand with the Iraq Veterans Against The War, an organization of soldiers who have come back from Iraq and spoken out against the politicians and policies that sent them there. Along with any of our servicemen and women, these are our heroes. We hear their words and want to applaud them for taking a stand in the face of blind patriotism.
The following is 10 reasons these Iraq Vets are against the war:
“Reason 1. The Iraq War is based on lies and deception.
The Bush Administration planned for an attack against Iraq before September 11th, 2001. They pretense of an imminent nuclear, chemical and biological weapons threat to deceive Congress in rationalizing this unnecessary conflict. They hide our casualties of war by banning the filming of our fallen’s caskets when they arrive home, and when they refuse to allow the media into Walter Reed Hospital and other veterans Administrations facilities which are overflowing with maimed and traumatized veterans.
Reason 2. The Iraq war violates international law
The United Stated assaulted and occupied Iraq without consent of the UN Security Council. In doing so, they violated the same body of laws they accused Iraq of breaching.
Reason 3. Corporate Profiteering is driving the war in Iraq.
From privately contracted soldiers and linguists to no-bid reconstruction contracts and multinational oil negotiations, those who benefit the most in conflict are those who suffer the least. The United States have chosen a path that directly contradicts President Eisenhower’s farewell warning regarding the Military industrial complex. As long as those in power are not held accountable, they will continue.
Reason 4. Overwhelming civilian casualties are a daily occurrence in Iraq.
Despite attempts in training and technological sophistication, large-scale civilian death is both a direct and indirect result of United States aggression in Iraq. Even the most conservative estimates of Iraqi civilian deaths number over 100,000. Currently over 100 civilians die every day in Baghdad alone.
Reason 5. Soldiers have the right to refuse illegal war.
All in service to this country swear an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, both foreign and domestic. However, they are prosecuted if they object to serve in a war they see as illegal under our Constitution. As such, our brothers and sisters are paying the price for political incompetence, forced to fight in a war instead of having been sufficiently trained to carry out the task of nation building.
Reason 6. Service members are facing serious health consequences due to our government’s negligence.
Many of our troops have already been deployed to Iraq for two, three, and even four tours of duty averaging eleven months each. Combat stress, exhaustion, and bearing witness to the horrors of war contribute to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a serious set of symptoms that can lead to depression, illness, violent behavior and even suicide. Additionally, Depleted Uranium, Lariam, insufficient body armor and infectious diseases are just a few of the health risks which accompany an immorally planned and incompetently executed war. Finally, upon a soldiers release, the Veteran Administration is far too under funded to fully deal with the magnitude of veterans in need.
Reason 7. The war in Iraq is tearing our families apart.
The use of stop-loss on active duty troops and the unnecessarily lengthy and repeat active tours by Guard and Reserve troops place enough strain on our military families, even without being forced to sacrifice loved ones for this ongoing political experiment in the Middle East.
Reason 8. The Iraq war is robbing us of funding sorely needed here at home.
$5.8 billion per month is spent on a war which could have aided the victims of Hurricane Katrina, gone to impoverished schools, the construction of hospitals and health care systems, tax cut initiatives, and a host of domestic programs that have all been gutted in the wake of the war in Iraq.
Reason 9. The war dehumanizes Iraqis and denies them their right to self-determination.
Iraqis are subject to humiliating and violent checkpoints, searches and home raids on a daily basis. The current Iraqi government is in place solely because of the U.S. Military occupation. The Iraqi government doesn’t have the popular support of the Iraqi people, nor does it have power or authority. For many Iraqis the current government is seen as a puppet regime for the U.S. Occupation. It is undemocratic and in violation of Iraq’s own right to self-governance.
Reason 10. Our military is being exhausted by repeated deployments, involuntary extensions, and activations of the Reserve and National Guard.
The majority of troops in Iraq right now are there for at least their second tour. Deployments to Iraq are becoming longer and many of our service members are facing involuntary extensions and recalls to active duty. Longstanding policies to limit the duration and frequency of deployments for our part-time National Guard troops are now being overturned to allow for repeated, back to back tours in Iraq. These extended combat tours are taking a huge toll on our troops, their families and their communities.”
The answer to Iraq is not abandonment, it is accountability. It is holding accountable those who started this war unjustly, and coming to the realization that they are not going to provide us a solution to get out of the situation they have gotten us into, therefore we must find a new way. We must make certain that our politicians understand that we want to cut off all funding for combat in Iraq. That we want those responsible for violating our constitution and international laws held responsible under the fullest extent of the law. We must make peace a priority for all, we must make certain that the all mighty dollar will never again be held more valuable than any human life.
One of the most important things we can do to ensure this is by re-educating ourselves to the importance of voting. We have to make democracy our own responsibility, and we must love and appreciate it. Being able to vote is a right that was a violent struggle for women and minorities and these generations disrespect that by throwing that right away. We MUST VOTE. And, we can not only go to presidential elections, we must vote for our schools, for the elections in between because this is how the leaders of tomorrow are chosen. We need to take our own education into our own hands and become responsible for our own information. It’s time to truly be the change we wish to see in the world.
We want to thank our servicemen and women for their sacrifices both great and small. Words can not describe the respect that we feel for you, and the sadness we feel for the ones we’ve lost. We have faced so much adversity in the name of this demonstration, and the massive misconception that the movement for peace being a movement that is anti-military is staggering. This demonstration was created out of love, respect and sadness. Out of frustration for the struggle our military and so many others are facing everyday. More than anything, we have gathered here today out of a pure desire for real peace.
We then read the names of each fallen Michigan soldier to honor them and hope that they in the end don’t die COMPLETELY in vain.