We want answers, we want the truth, we want accountability,
Sat Nov 25, 2006 00:55

We want answers, we want the truth, we want accountability!!!

My name is Laura McCarthy, and I have a son in the Idaho Army National Guard in Iraq. I have been opposed to the war in Iraq from the very beginning. I have been very vocal by writing letters to the President and other government officials and to the editor of our local paper, and I have participated in local street protests. However, I avoided making any public speeches due to my overwhelming fear of public speaking. That all changed last week when an opportunity presented itself, and I had to choose between remaining silent out of fear or speaking out in spite of fear.

The Idaho Peace Coalition took advantage of all the press coverage during President Bush's visit to Idaho last week and set up two very successful events which I attended. The first was a Peace Memorial and Rally at a park across from the Boise statehouse. We set up over 1,860 crosses in the park to remember the US soldiers who have died in Iraq. There was also a cairn to remember the countless number of Iraqi deaths. We were honored to have Melanie House come to Boise from California just to speak at the event. Melanie lost her husband John in Iraq last January, just one month after their son was born. Her questions mirrored those of Cindy Sheehan and so many other military families: "WHY did John have to die? WHY are we in Iraq?" Here is the speech I gave to introduce Melanie to the press:

"President Bush probably breathed a sigh of relief when he landed in Idaho last night. He was probably glad to be rid of the likes of Cindy Sheehan and the other war protesters camped outside his vacation home.

Well, guess what? No matter where he goes, he's going to find a Cindy Sheehan in every community across the United States. The names are going to be different, but the message is the same. We want answers, we want the truth, we want accountability, and we want our troops brought home NOW.

No one knows the cost of this war better than the "living casualties", the friends and families who have had to welcome their loved ones home in a casket. Over 1800 soldiers have been killed so far in this war and that number continues to grow each and every day we remain in Iraq.

We have a guest today who, like Cindy, has forever lost her soldier, and she has traveled from California to be with us today AND to welcome President Bush to Idaho. Please welcome Mrs. Melanie House (and her 8-month old son, James)."

The press coverage was phenomenal, and parts of this speech have been quoted worldwide. President Bush should now be very aware that there is a growing force behind Cindy Sheehan, and regardless of where he goes he cannot escape our presence or our questions!

Later in the day we had a Peace Rally where the public was invited to hear speeches from military families opposed to the war in Iraq. Again, I was terrified to be speaking in front of so many people, but the support I received was overwhelming. I stood on stage with Melanie House and two other military family members, and one by one we told our stories. When Liz Paul, the leader of the Idaho Peace Coalition, first asked me to speak at the rally, she said that fear of public speaking and fear of the impact on our soldiers were the two main reasons why military families opposed to this war are so reluctant to speak out. So, I decided to write my speech about why it was so important to me to speak out. Here is what I said:

"I know that a lot of people who oppose this war are reluctant to speak out because they fear their actions might negatively affect the soldiers. I gave this a lot of thought, but I decided long ago that NOT speaking out carries far greater negative consequences.

I can remain silent about my son being asked to risk his life for an illegal and immoral war, OR

I can voice my opposition to this war and try to bring an end to this insanity.

I can remain silent and live in fear that my actions will cause undue hardship on my son, OR

I can exercise the FREEDOMS that George W. Bush repeatedly claims are so important and make my opinions be heard without the fear of retaliation.

I can silently accept day after day the news of more soldiers dying for what I believe to be the gross misuse of our military, OR

I can demand that George W. Bush be held accountable for his deliberate lying to and misleading of the American public.

Whether I remain silent or speak out, the fact is that my son's life is still needlessly at risk, so I see no option other than to speak out and to do so LOUDLY.

I speak out because for me to remain silent is to ignore the needless sacrifice of over 1800 American soldiers and tens of thousands of innocent Iraqi men, women and children who we carelessly refer to as collateral damage or the unfortunate cost of war. Let us also not forget the COUNTLESS number of wounded, many of whom will carry both the mental and physical scars of this war for the remainder of their lives.

My hope is that the American public will wake up and realize that our President is leading us down a dark and narrow tunnel AWAY from global unity, cooperation and understanding and TOWARD continued mistrust, misunderstanding, hatred, death, and destruction.

I encourage each and every one of you to make your voices heard.


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