"War is the greatest threat to public health." - Gino Strada, Italian war surgeon and founder of the UN-recognized Italian NGO Emergency

Monday, November 10, 2008

Honor Veterans (in a non-traditional way)

How can we honor veterans? I mean really honor veterans, beyond attending parades and waving flags on Veterans Day? How do we honor people who have chosen to serve their country in the armed forces, and yet have been sold down the river by the very leadership sworn to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

I am sure that one of your expectations of President-elect Obama is that he will obey not only the law of the land, but also the laws of all the lands; that he will uphold the rule (and spirit) of law as it applies to our Constitution and Bill of Rights as well as all of the treaties and other agreements into which our nation has entered with other nations. I believe that is a major reason why so many voted for him.

And I'm pretty sure that we could agree that President George W. Bush (and his administration) has broken at least a few domestic laws, not to mention some international laws. In fact, some of them would seem to be pretty darn serious violations, both on the home and international fronts. From wiretapping to torture to invading foreign lands, the list is quite impressive.

So, it must have you scratching your heads - and it's a good thing I don't, or my head would be looking pretty raw after eight years of egregious presidential law breaking - as to how the Congress has not initiated impeachment proceedings against the President (and don't forget the Vice President). After all, Congress did go after President Bill Clinton for perjury, obstruction of justice and abuse of power related to the Monica Lewinsky scandal and the Paula Jones law suit. Hey, that was some serious stuff.

It seems clear that political reasons kept Congress (even when controlled by the Democrats) from pursuing impeachment [read "I want to get re-elected, and I certainly don't want to create any more animosity toward the Democrats before an election."]. Poor Dennis Kucinich has been a voice in the wilderness crying out for impeachment. So what's a nation to do? Well, it's never to late to pursue justice, and I believe it is clear that there has never even been a clear national dialogue about the various crimes, and particularly war crimes, committed by the current administration.

Many would argue that pursuing the issue of the crimes of President Bush would create more wounds and division in our already hurting nation. But are we not already hurting (to a large degree) because of these very crimes? The men and women currently in our armed forces who suffer physically and mentally (along with their families)? The people who are uprooted, injured and killed as we invade their countries or cross their sovereign borders to track down "terrorists". And what of the pain of the divisiveness (in our nation) created by the rhetoric of the endless (and illegally pursued) War on Terror?

Perhaps the words of Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero are appropriate here; he once said that, "No one wants to have a sore spot touched, and likewise a society with many sores will twitch when someone has the courage to touch one and say: “You have to treat that. You have to get rid of that.”

Indeed, these are tremendous sore spots, and if we are ever to heal our nation, we will have to address the (festering) sores that will not go away if we continue to ignore them. But it will take more than dialogue. It will require action to show that we, as a people, recognize the seriousness of the crimes and are willing to take responsibility. Is not part of that responsibility bringing justice on behalf of those affected by these crimes?

I suspect that it will require the voice of the people to call for not only impeachment, but also for prosecution for war crimes. You can join the more than one million people who have voted in the referendum to impeach President Bush (and get involved) at VoteToImpeach. You can also click here to read the letter from the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance to the Justice Department calling for indictment of the President and Vice President. A delegation will be (once again) demanding a meeting with Attorney General Mukasey today asking him to bring forth an indictment of Bush and Cheney.

So, tell veterans that you are really honoring them by working to prevent senseless (and illegal) wars and holding the President accountable to his oath of office. Now that's patriotism!



Note: The photo used in this post is from the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance Website, and the caption reads "Simultaneous outside protest begins with honor guard by Iraq Veterans Against the War."

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