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News :: Human Rights : Organizing : War and Militarism
“4,000 Too Many,” Boston Mourns U.S. Deaths in Iraq
25 Mar 2008
Vigils across the United States yesterday and today marked the 4,001 death of a U.S. soldier in Iraq. Called by several peace groups and military members against the war, people in almost every single state mourned the loss of life in a war that for most Americans has become unjust and meaningless.

“By grieving in public, many families have found comfort,” said Carlos Arredondo, father of Lance Corporal Alexander Scott Arredondo, who died while serving in Najaf at the young age of twenty--the 974th U.S. death of the Bush administration’s war. Indeed, many in Boston attended today’s vigil because it comforts them to stay alert, to show support, to represent the troops in a way that calls for their safe return home.
Carlos Arredondo wearing a t-shirt of his son, killed in Iraq
Anne Chay from Andover, MA, held a sign asking that her son is not sent back to war. He served fifteen months in Iraq and his three-year commitment with the army will be up this November, but a few people from his infantry have been reactivated already and sent back to Iraq. When he enlisted, her son didn’t know the 8 years of inactive duty in the army meant he could be reactivated at the military’s whim. Many others have gone through the same stop-loss military program that forces soldier into multiple deployments, despite their injuries or mental ability to serve.

“I trusted the government,” said Anne who is now a member of Military Families Speak Out (MFSO), “I never thought I’d see the day of 4,000 soldiers dead.”

Almost four thousand is also the number of members of MFSO, an organization that has seen its members swell since its foundation back in November 2002. Nancy Lessin, one of the co-founders, said that new members join practically every day and out of the thousands, 130 of them are Gold Star Families who have lost loved ones in the war.

“It’s easier for family members to speak out rather than active members,” said Nancy about how it’s hard to be outspoken against the war while serving in the military. There have been accounts of military men and women whose lives have been made harder because of their opposition to the war.

“Look at Liam Madden,” said Anne of the founder of Boston’s chapter of Iraq Veterans Against the War. “The army tried to give him a dishonorable discharge for speaking against the war. It’s very scary. My son doesn’t want to make a political statement.”

Many of the people who stood at Park Street today holding signs were familiar faces, people who have committed themselves some way or other in the peace movement. And some others faces weren’t. Cal Flachner, Susan Sackman, and their son Peter were touring Boston from New York when they saw the peace vigil today and decided to join in. They consider this war to be unethical and immoral and have participated in peace events in the past. “The government needs to know how many people are against the war; people need to represent the troops,” said Peter.

He talked about how the son of his parents’ friends recently returned from Iraq after serving a little over a year in the war. Apparently he is suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome and flashbacks, looking instinctively for road bombs while driving on U.S. highways. At 15 years old, Peter was deeply affected by this and said he is not interested in joining the army. Only once was he approached by a military recruiter on the street and promptly got rid of the army’s brochure.

“You never told me that,” said his father Cal. “It worries me that my son is being approached by the military. I believe he should be left alone,” he added.

“The war is affecting everyone in this country,” said Carlos Arredondo, “As a father is my responsibility to mourn my son; as a citizen, is my obligation to participate and do something about ending this war.”
Anne Chay, asks her son is not sent back to Iraq
Participants of “4,000 Too Many”
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