America’s Finest Protest the War: Active Duty, Reservists and Lt Watada’s Father

In Washington D.C. active duty, Iraqi veterans and Lt Watada’s father joined tens of thousands of protesters:

New York Times, January 27, 2007 Excerpts:

Tassi McKee, from Bastrop, La. who said she was a staff sergeant in the Air Force, was among a small contingent of about 20 active-duty service members who turned out. “I believe this has become a civil war and we are being hurt and making matters worse by staying in the middle of it,” Sergeant McKee said.

She said that it was not illegal for active-duty members to attend protests but that it was strongly discouraged.

Veterans were more numerous among the crowd.

Dressed in the olive green, military-issued flight jacket that he said he wore during the invasion of Iraq while serving as a Marine sergeant, Jack Teller, 26, said he joined a caravan of vans coming from Greenville, N.C., because he felt that it was his duty.

“I don’t like wearing the jacket because it reminds me that I participated in an immoral and illegal war,” Mr. Teller said, “Iraq Veterans Against the War” stenciled on the back of his jacket. “But it’s important to make a political statement.”

Fernando Braga, a 24-year-old Bronx native who is a member of the Army National Guard, said that he was skeptical of the war before it started. Mr. Braga said his views hardened into opposition while he served in Iraq from March 2004 through January 2005.

“My own commander told us when we arrived that if we thought we were there for any reason other than oil then we had another think[g] coming,” he said. “I realized even commanding officers were against it but following orders.”

Michael McPhearson, executive director of Veterans for Peace, said there were more than 100 veterans from the Iraq war participating in the march and several hundred veterans from previous wars attending as well.

Bob Watada, 67, of Honolulu, a retired executive with the State of Hawaii who said his Army officer son, Ehren, was to be court-martialed next month for refusing to deploy to Iraq, said: “So many thousands of our own have died and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and for what? And still we are having to push Congress to block the president.”

When will America learn that its self-image must be transformed from a warrior nation into a civilised and constructive component of the international community?

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