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Bus tour members speak out against war in Iraq
Florida Independent Alligator
By DAVID COHEN
With "Hey wingnut!" and "Truth not Spin" emblazoned on its caravan, the tour arrived in Gainesville on Wednesday.
Cindy Sheehan made national news last month when she publicly asked President Bush why her son died in Iraq. Her passion helped fuel the Bring Them Home Now Tour, a group of activists, family members of soldiers and veterans speaking out to oppose the war across the country.
The South Bus Tour visited the Civic Media Center on West University Avenue, where Gold Star Families for Peace member Julie Cuniglio spoke about her nephew Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Aaron Dean White.
White died along with two others on May 19, 2003, when their helicopter crashed near Al Hillah, Iraq.
Cuniglio said her family is a bunch of Army brats, but she is against the war.
"The problem is the whole country has been lied to," she said.
Students who sign up for the military to earn money for college simply "get what they put in," she said.
Soldiers on active duty can get up to $70,000 to pay for college. Soldiers in the Army Reserve can get up to $22,000, according to www.goarmy.com.
"There's nobody in Iraq going to college," Cuniglio said.
Military Families Speak Out member Phil Waste, of Hinesville, Ga., has three sons and two grandchildren who have spent a total of 57 months on duty in Iraq, he said. He and his wife, Linda, met Sheehan.
"There is nothing noble about this war," Linda Waste said. "This is an unjust war. It is we the people who are making the sacrifice."
Former Marine Staff Sgt. Jimmy Massey was part of the invasion of Iraq in January 2003 but was sent home after five months of service for voicing his distaste of the shootings of Iraqi civilians by American troops.
"We're just calling everybody terrorists," he said.
Massey said he saw a 4-year-old Iraqi girl with a bullet hole in her head.
"You can't take it back," he said.
But he said this tour is helping him.
"I sold my soul to the Marine Corps a long time ago," he said. "Every time I speak out, I gain a little bit of my soul back."