Last Sunday, Oct. 7, marked the beginning of the Afghanistan War 11 years ago. We now enter our 12th year of war – the longest United States war in history.
Yes, another anniversary, 11 full years of war in Afghanistan, and this travesty continues to wreak havoc on our solders and their families and loved ones. The war continues to wreak havoc on the multitude of Afghan families who have endured endless war for more than four decades. Lives and limbs lost and many billions spent and wasted have not made the lives of Americans or Afghans safer or better.
For 11 years, the Coalition for Peace and Justice has protested and held peace vigils opposing this war. We were one of the first grassroots peace group to do so.
We hold vigils because we must remember all those who die or lose limbs on a daily basis by stepping on an ever-growing number of improvised explosive devices, or roadside homemade bombs, because 2012 will set a record for IEDs planted by the assorted opposition forces in Afghanistan.
We must remember those who have lost their lives or been injured by “green on blue” attacks – attacks on our military by the Afghan army and Afghan police, the people we are supposedly there to help. To date in 2012, 51 coalition forces, mostly Americans, have been killed by our “partners.”
We must remember our active-duty troops and veterans, some of whom who have taken their own lives in ever-increasing numbers. A recent article said that suicides have outnumbered battlefield deaths. As Americans, we must consider what has gone wrong, and why our troops are are taking their own lives in such large numbers. War-weary as this country seems to be, we can no longer turn a blind eye to the reality of war, and to the human and economic costs of war.
War-weary or not, there were protests across the country last weekend, including peace vigils Friday in Rio Grande and Woodstown, even though media coverage was limited.
The latest illustration of what has gone wrong in Afghanistan was expressed by Staff Sgt. Matthew Sitton, now deceased, in a recent email to his congressman, Rep. Bill Young of Florida, as reported by Time magazine, Time's website and United for Peace and Justice, a national anti-war network.
Here are excerpts from Sitton’s email:
“I am writing you because I am concerned for the safety of my soldiers… I know the threat of casualties in war and am totally on board with sacrifice for my country, but what I do not agree with is the chain of command making us walk through – for lack of a better term – basically a minefield on a daily basis.
“There is no end state or purpose for the patrols given to us from our higher chain of command, only that we will be out for a certain period of time.
“As a brigade, we are averaging at a minimum an amputee a day from our soldiers because we are walking around aimlessly through grape rows and compounds that are littered with explosives, not to mention that the operating tempo that every soldier is on leaves little to no time for rest and refit. The morale and alertness levels on our patrols are low, and it is causing casualties left and right …
“Thank you again for allowing soldiers to voice their opinion. If anything, please pray for us."
Less than two months later, on Aug. 2, Sitton, 26, was killed by an IED. Sitton leaves behind a wife, Sarah, and a 9-month old son, Brodey.
It is important to get involved – support the troops by letting your voice be heard. Please consider any of these: a call or attendance at a campaign event asking Congressman LoBiondo and Sens. Menendez and Lautenberg to end the war in Afghanistan now; sending an email to the president or vice president; writing a letter to the editor – Congressman LoBiondo reads them; and joining the Coalition for Peace and Justice, or the national groups Peace Action or United for Peace and Justice, to join folks across the country demanding and end to this war now.
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