[News] Vietnam Vets Call for Fort Benning Soldiers to Oppose the Iraq War

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Jun 7 14:34:20 EDT 2007


http://www.counterpunch.org/quigley06072007.html

June 7, 2007


Highly Decorated Vietnam Vets Publish Call for Fort Benning Soldiers 
to Oppose the Iraq War


"How Long Must We Support a Mistake?"

By BILL QUIGLEY

Two highly decorated Vietnam veterans published a full-page color ad 
picturing dozens of white cemetery crosses and an American flag for 
several days in the Columbus (Georgia) Ledger-Enquirer titled "An 
Open Letter to the Soldiers of Fort Benning." Fort Benning is located 
in Columbus Georgia and is home to thousands of members of the U.S. 
Army. Calling the war in Iraq a mistake, veterans Charlie Litkey and 
Roy Bourgeois offered, as members of Veterans for Peace, to help 
active duty soldiers oppose the war.
Charlie Liteky was awarded a Congressional Medal Honor for saving 20 
soldiers in Vietnam. Roy Bourgeois, now a Maryknoll priest, a Navy 
officer for four years, was awarded a Purple Heart during his tour of 
duty in Vietnam. Both vets have years of history at Fort Benning 
calling for the closure of the highly controversial School of the 
Americas, Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation. See 
<http://www.soaw.org/>www.soaw.org

Liteky and Bourgeois point out in their ad that Major General Paul 
Eaton, former commander of Fort Benning, told the U.S. Senate that 
"The U.S. has failed to secure the peace We went in with a bad plan. 
Stay the course is not a strategy."

The ad also quotes Major General John Batiste, Commander of the First 
Infantry Division of the U.S. Army in Iraq in 2004 and 2005. Batiste, 
offered a promotion to become a three star general instead resigned 
over the war in Iraq, saying "Somebody had to speak out. If not me, 
who? How long are we going to continue down this road to nowhere?"

"How long must we support a mistake?" ask Liteky and Bourgeois in the 
letter. "Why should this country send more and more members of our 
military to their early graves in an attempt to justify the mistakes 
of the politicians in Washington?"

In bold letters over the picture of the gravesite white crosses, they 
wrote, "Bring the troops home!"

The ad concluded with an invitation. "For more information on how you 
can oppose the war in Iraq, write: Charlie Liteky, Medal of Honor 
Vietnam. Roy Bourgeois, Purple Heart, Veteran. Veterans for Peace. 
P.O. Box 3330, Columbus. GA 31903.

A June 7, 2007 letter to the editor of the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, 
the primary newspaper in the area, with a circulation of about 
50,000, was highly critical of the ad. "If it weren't for our men in 
uniform fighting for our freedom, these two men would be in a jail 
somewhere. If Mr. Liteky and Roy Bourgeois don't love our country, I 
suggest they pack their duffle bags and move to Iraq."

Fr. Roy Bourgeois said the ad will continue to run, at least five 
times. "So far" he said, "we have received a couple of letters from 
soldiers asking how they can oppose the war. Some veterans have 
written supportive letters, some have criticized us." The reaction of 
the local community? "Some are happy. Some are angry." When asked how 
he reacts to angry people, Fr. Bourgeois said, "When people in the 
U.S. tell me how passionately they believe in the Iraq war, I ask 
them, then why the hell are you here instead of over there? Only 
cowards want other people to fight their wars for them."

Bill Quigley is a human rights lawyer and law professor at Loyola 
University New Orleans. You can reach him at 
<mailto:Quigley at loyno.edu>Quigley at loyno.edu

For more information on the call for soldiers to resist the war in 
Iraq, write Veterans for Peace. P.O. Box 3330, Columbus. GA 31903.




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