Last Thursday March 10 The American Friends Service Committee (a Quaker association) sponsored the Eye's Wide Open tour in Escondido, CA. (It had been in downtown San Diego the day before.) It is an exhibit of combat boots and shoes to represent all the soldier and civilian lives lost in this war; there were 1512 army boots there that day. I think that it's a great and important thing to recognize the sacrifices of those who have fallen for their country, but not with the message that they had accompanying this memorial. If anyone has seen this display you'll notice it's almost like walking through a war cemetery, mother's crying, people giving respect to the fallen heroes, photos to remember the lost by. But sadly the mood changed when they started having the speakers come up.
There were a number of speakers, all saying on a certain level that they this war is wrong, immoral, and the troops are dieing for a bad cause. I totally disagree but it wasn't my place to say. But the one speaker that disturbed me, and I've talked about him many times before was Fernando Suarez. For a little background, Fernando's son, Jesus Suarez was a Marine who died in combat in Iraq on March 27, 2003; almost exactly two years ago. His son, though not a native wanted to fight for this nation and knew that Saddam was a threat, so he joined the Marines and went off to war. When he died Mr. Suarez was devastated and since he didn't agree with this war and President to begin with he has since made it his mission to be involved with most San Diego anti-war movements and to protest this war and administration. His slogan, "Bush Lied And My Son Died." I understand his grieving, but I don't think he's handling it fairly.
Thursday Mr. Suarez was the last one to speak, for dramatic reasons I bet.. When he went up he said, "Um, sorry but I'm going to speak Spanish today." Then I over heard on the crowd, "But this is America!" Implying that he should be speaking English. I don't know who that person was but I chuckled, not knowing if this person is for or against this event.
This is what Fernando said: (translated)
"1513 pairs of boots, boots stained with blood, blood that was unnecessary to spill. Shoes that represent more than a 100,000 civilian causalities in Iraq, their deaths was also unnecessary. Our nation does no longer need heroes. Our nation needs students, youth with their families, working for our country, not for destruction. I will hope that thousands of boots like the ones you see today return home, but with their owners inside of those boots. We do no longer need empty boots, we do not need more sick veterans, we do not need more homelessness, and more patients in mental hospitals. Today in Escondido, for me this is very, very special. This is the home of my child, where my son finished his high school years, where he met his wife, and were his son was born. And sadly my son leads these lines and lines of military boots. How many children like my grandson have lost a parent in this war? How many more orphan children will there be? How many Iraqi children have lost their families in this war? I want to ask you a question today, how many more orphan children do you need to see before we demand the end of this war and the return of the troops home? How much more blood should be spilled before we end this massacre in Iraq? I no longer want a memorials like this one, we do not need to buy more flowers for our dead children, we need books in schools, not arms in the streets. I want to ask you that we all unite now, in a minute of silence in honor of those hundreds and thousands of people who have lost their lives, that each one of us without regards to race or nationality, we say a prayer and pray for peace. [Moment of silence] God bless America, God bless American troops."
Fernando Suarez is wrong; blood spilt sadly was necessary. That's how we got Saddam, Uday and Qusay and stopped the evil dictatorship. Yes, I wish deeply that there were no civilians' lives lost and especially U.S. soldiers', but that's the cost of war, it is very high. One thing that I told a reporter there asking what I thought was, war is ugly, but it's a necessary evil in this world, always has, and always will be. I don't like war, no one does, but it happens, and we need people to fight and die for it. The United States did nothing wrong in going to Iraq; we had more than sufficient justification.
Jesus Suarez, (Fernando's son) saw the threat and answered the call; that is a HERO! Where does Fernando get off saying, "Our nation does no longer need heroes." That is wrong, if it weren't for the heroes like his son to fight, this nation would be under the control of extreme Muslims or worse, not even here. I do understand that Mr. Suarez is grieving, but he will always be grieving until he accepts that his son died for our freedom and especially the Iraqi freedom. I think it is wrong for a father to protest and denounce everything his son died for.
In response to this anti-war message hidden in a memorial I went with a flyer of my own. It read,
"As of March 9, 2005 the death toll of U.S. casualties in Iraq is 1,512. 1,512 men and women gave the ultimate sacrifice so that the Iraqi people can experience the same FREEDOM and DEMOCRACY that we enjoy." Then I stated 16 facts gotten off of the DOD website of all the good things happening right now in Iraq. I ended it with, "Do we pull out now and let their sacrifice be in vain, or finish the good work begun? Thank you to all who have fought for freedom and democracy around the world!"
I thought that was very powerful, and the best part is that it's non-offensive. The coordinators thought that Protest Warrior was going to be there to protest it, which we weren't, but my message was just as powerful as a protest. I passed out the flyer to give the untold story, the story that they don't want you to know, the story that justifies this war. I was expecting some negative feedback, but to my surprise no one commented on it, good or bad. My friend Pat helped me out whom I appreciate so much; we were able to pass out to most of the people.
I feel for those who have lost someone, but their sacrifice won't be forgotten, nor will it be for not. We have to remember, as humans, war is a part of us; it's in our nature. But it's when we repent our sins do we become civilized and peaceful. There are those who can't or wont do this, so we have to fight and even sometimes kill them. I think Plato said it best with: "Only the dead see the end of war." The war is not over, nor will it ever be, but when you fight for the right reasons as we have, your efforts will produce great rewards.