Friday, March 24, 2006

VOICES AGAINST THE WAR—highlights from the program

Our first speaker was MICHAEL HARMON who spoke movingly and frankly about the very difficult time he has spent as a returning Iraq vet. It is one thing to read about PTSD (post-traumatic stress syndrome) and quite another to hear about the personal toll it exacts on a human being. He told us about the grueling life of a combat medic, living on a daily ration of two bottles of water and one portion of MREs, seeing young and old civilians being killed and wounded along with soldiers and gradually beginning to question why the US was in Iraq. He described the medical treatment he received from an overwhelmed VA hospital as “throwing pills at me” for what they diagnosed as “normal” feelings. He is now an active member of Iraq Vets Against the War and is studying to become a respiratory therapist.
Thank you, Michael, for coming to Riverhead and for offering to help us in our future efforts.

Does your elected official know that you exist?

CARMEN TROTTA of the Catholic Worker movement gave an impassioned speech in which he expressed his fear for his country, his belief that the system is broken and beyond repair, based as it is on both political parties being equally driven by a commitment to oil. In his own words:

"I am deeply fearful because in the last couple of years I have come to believe that we can no longer reform this country... Republican Party, Democratic Party ..they both want this war, they both need the oil. There is no way to
reform this country yet there is a world begging. The strongest political voice is the voice of the American people if they would begin to speak and if they would speak articulately."

We can learn from the enormous, vocal, Vietnam peace movement, he said, echoing the words of Martin Luther King that it is only out of community-based action that change can occur. Otherwise, Carmen believes, we will slip into chaos.

Have you called your senator and your congressman? Today?

JOHN PHILLIPS spoke about his former job as a New York City police officer in which he identified and brought to justice people who acted in criminal fashion. Using the same principles, he has investigated the administration’s activities after which he came to the same conclusion: these are criminal activities and the perpetrators must be brought to justice.

Walking his talk, John was arrested at Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton's office when he refused to leave the premises. "We have heads of state admitting to felony crime on television and we need to stand up and say this is unacceptable," Mr. Phillips told the court. "Their agenda is inconsistent with the rights of the American people," he said.
Does your elected official know what you think?

JOE GIANNINI, founder of East End Vets Against the War, said that the Iraq war is fueled by oil, hubris and greed. He quoted Smedley Butler who left the Marines in the mid-1930s and wrote: 'War is Hell: the profits are measured in dollars and the losses are measured in lives'."

Joe’s continuing activism will be channeled from now until November into support for the Band of Veterans, composed mainly of Democrat vets, who are seeking Congressional office this year.

He also told the audience: "I want to take back our government…I have made a decision I won't support any politician unless they stand with another Marine, John Murtha , who's already come to the conclusion (that we should withdraw our troops now).”

Have you called your elected officials this week?


OCCUPATION: DREAMLAND
We learned a few days ago that director Garrett Scott, had died of cardiac arrest while swimming in a public pool in Los Angeles. He was visiting his family before attending the Indie Spirit Awards the next day. He was 37. We send his family and team our condolences and thank them for the opportunity to show this documentary to our audience.

It gave people an up close and personal look into a platoon in Falluja, casting light onto what can often be a very mundane soldier’s life: it brought home to us how young and confused and seemingly leaderless these young men can feel.
It resonated very deeply with the more than 2,000 faces of the dead in the panels lining the halls and rooms of Vail-Leavitt Music Hall.

RECRUIT ME!
This documentary, created by Matt Dadonna, a Mattituck high school student and Greg Rothman, captured a demonstration organized by NFPOC last summer in front of the military recruiting offices in Riverhead. We are hoping to show this film to a larger audience of North Fork high school students.

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