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I Am An Iraq War Veteran


by Japhet at Daily Kos
Sun Aug 14th, 2005 at 08:36:09 PDT

Japhet writes this about Iraqi War Veteran Benjamin Hart Viges: I met Hart a few days ago here at Crawford. The personal stories here are amazing to listen to and report. Here is one from Austin, TX and has been here in Crawford for two days now. he wrote this for yesterday evening after all the activities.

Benjamin Hart Viges' Story
My name is Benjamin Hart Viges and I am a veteran of this current war in Iraq. After September 11th I thought joining the army was a way to solve the problem we as Americans were facing. After spending a year in Iraq I was given a first hand experience of war. It showed me that the occupation was spurring on further violence which is contrary to why they told us we were there. When I came back I filed for Conscientious Objector status. After ten months I received CO status and was released from the army honorably.

This being my first day in Crawford I was just trying to take in everything. Cindy's quest to speak with the President is a spark in this movement that we need. That coupled with the work of other Gold Star Families for Peace, Military Families Speak Out, Code Pink, Veterans for Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War, and individuals from across the country working together is hope that we can move this mountain before us. All of this can seem overwhelming at times. All of these people taking responsibility to save lives and to make this world a better place. Everyone here is a superhero to me.

To describe the relationship between the veterans and The Gold Star Families is beyond my ability to define. These parents could easily be my parents. I keep asking myself, Why did the roadside bomb spare me but not their child? I don't have a child but I won't argue when I hear that the greatest pain is in losing a child; especially for a lie.

The Vietnam Veterans here have been a huge help to me. They are father figures to us new veterans. They know what we are going through. I just hope I won't have to take their role ten or twenty years down the line. But they have been a shining example for me.

I plan to give all I can for this movement. Because losing a child to war or killing a child for war carry a cost no one should pay. God intended better for all of us. But we have to choose peace. Free will is a gift from God. Now we have to use it. After all what would Jesus do?
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Benjamin, I salute you and your understanding of the serious failures of the Bush administration. You have been spared for a "noble" purpose and you have accepted the call to come forward and speak out from first hand experiences about the horrors of this war and war in general. You conscious decision to be at Camp Casey and to expose the follies of this Chickenhaw-In-Chief and his neocon administration is applauded by myself and all of the others who follow this website daily. God Bless you and yours!

Napoleon Bonaparte once said "To have good soldiers, a nation must always be at war."

Unfortunately, George W Bush and his neocon horde seem to believe that too without regard for the soldiers themselves and the consequences they face. We can only hope that their Waterloo and banishment to a small island doesn't lie too far in the future.

If only it were his Waterloo. I think, though, the Retreat from Moscow is a better analogy for the position our troops find themselves in. Napoleon took a sleigh ride to Paris and safety while his troops froze and starved to death in Russia. Bush is taking a vacation. What's the difference? Perhaps of magnitude. Still, I hope Bush pays for his lack of leadership and abandonment of our troops by a long, long stretch in the military prison in Leavenworth, Kansas.

I served this country for eight years as an enlisted Grunt in the U.S. Marine Corps. I lost my youth and my illusions in the Corps. I didn't lose my ideals or my "honor". While in I was a man first, a citizen second and only a Marine third. Now, I am still a man first, a citizen second and a proud Veteran for Peace third. Gung ho! Benjamin.
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If more voices like Benjamin's were to make themselves heard above the roar of the cannon and the screams of the dying, then the banishment of Bush and his cabal could be a reality.

I would only ask that you consider the choice of the small island very carefully. Britain is a small island. We don't want him.

Thank you for your courage in opposing this war.

And thank you for joining Cindy.

Sure wish I could be there too.

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