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March 05, 2008

Winter Soldier: Iraq & Afghanistan [69]

We who have come here to Washington have come here
because we feel we have to be winter soldiers now.
We could come back to this country;
we could be quiet;
we could hold our silence;
we could not tell what went on in Vietnam,
but we feel because of what threatens this country,
the fact that the crimes threaten it, not reds, and not redcoats
but the crimes which we are committing that threaten it,

that we have to speak out.

- Vietnam War Veteran John Kerry,

April 22, 1971 before Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Cimg0067_gun_sight In 1776, Thomas Paine wrote: “These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.”

In 1971, a group of veterans came forward to share their horrific tales of the Vietnam War in an event called Winter Soldier (there is also a documentary film of the testimonies).

March 13-16, Iraq Veterans Against the War will be holding another event, Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan to put on record the testimonies of over 100 vets and civilians.

On February 28th, four local Vermont veterans gave testimony at UVM's The Davis Center.  Drew Cameron, Adrienne Kinne, Matt Howard and Jon Michael Turner told their tales to a somber crowd of about 200 students and community members.

The testimony of Jon Michael included mentions of mosque bombings, planting of weapons, violent house raids and the murder of innocents.  Jon Michael was stationed in Ramadi and you can even catch a glimpse of him shooting and smoking in this CNN news piece

P1040240_jt_thumbs_up_gun Jon Michael collected a massive amount of photos and video that act as a visual aid throughout his testimony.  Additionally, I thank him for letting me use it in this video. 

As of March, these testimonies will be permanently etched on record to inform future generations and ensure that the dead will never be forgotten.

This video is dedicated to the memories of Shane Swanberg and Richard Z James.  Two young men who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Music is Swale's "Soft Fireworks" off Verdigris.  You might recall that I used this same song months ago in a Cindy Sheehan video which was the first time I met Matt, Adrienne and Drew.  Those were the early days of their activist careers and it is a pleasure to see how far they have come.

Ryan Harvey's "Search and Avoid" off the Line in the Sand compilation which benefits the Iraq Veterans Against the War and was produced by our own Seven Days office manager and blogger, Bridget Burns. 

You can also watch this video on YouTube.

And be sure to check out Jon Taylor's new installment of the Campus Question as it is a bunch of Norwich cadets who plan to enlist.   Do you watch the CQ?  You should.  Every week Jon travels to campuses around VT to ask hot questions.

Also new this week, Lou News hits Seven Days like a Refreshing Bomb of Sass!  Formidable Lou wakes up early to chase Chelsea Clinton on her brief jag through town, sprinkling wit along the way.


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I so admire the strength and integrity of these men and women. They endured their tours, possess the extraordinary will necessary to force themselves to look back on that time critically, and have the courage to speak honestly about their actions and conclusions. No matter how upset I am by the war, sitting here safe stateside I will never understand it the way they do. Thank you for giving me a tiny glimpse. Thank you for being so strong. I wish each of you peace and hope that you feel redeemed.

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