OPEN LETTER:

Thanks To Some REAL National Heroes

by Ward Reilly

Aug. 9, 2004--While our president rushed us into an unnecessary war, many people around our nation worked to expose the truth about what was to come in Iraq--citizens of great character,and a deep love of our nation. It is a long, long list of citizens, some that have risked their careers, and even their lives, in order to tell the truth about the Bush Administration's catastrophic rush into war in the Middle East. Real Heroes.

Thank you, Scott Ritter--the weapons inspector who knew there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. He looked in every nook and cranny of that country, and as one of Bush's own men, said there was nothing to be found. His own boss would not believe him.

Thank you, Ambassador Joseph Wilson and Valerie Plame: I'm sorry I even know your names--a husband/career diplomat married to a wife/CIA agent whose secret identity was carelessly and criminally released to the public, because her husband would not falsely report that Saddam Hussein was trying to buy the materials necessary to make phony nuclear weapons. Someone in the White House released her identity, and hopefully the truth will be told.

Thank you, Richard Clark, who dared to expose the now-famous presidential memo that said "bin Laden determined to attack our nation," even though the President and his staff publically announced that the 9-11 attack came as a "complete surprise." I will never forget Condi Rice saying something like "no one could dream that something like this could happen"....yeah, right. The briefing given to the president a month before the suicide hijackings included recent intelligence that al-Qaida was planning to send operatives to the US to carry out an attack.

Thank you, Senator Byrd, and shame on the Congess for not listening to one of its senior members. With age comes knowledge, to the lucky few. And Senator Byrd's speeches and warnings to our nation should put him in the same class as General Smedley Butler. You have been spectacular, even if unheeded.

Thank you to the incredible families of 9-11 victims, who had their lives shattered, but still had the courage to demand the truth from the politicians. Maybe some day we all will actually learn the truth about why and how 9-11 happened, not just about who did it.

To Kathy Kelly, of "Voices In The Wilderness," who "dared" to travel to Iraq with medicine for the dying children who could not otherwise receive it due to US-imposed sanctions, sanctions that killed literally hundreds of thousands. What is wrong with us as a "superpower" when we stop even medicine for sick children to get through, to punish a nation for living on top of oil that we want? Forgive us, Kathy, for allowing you to be sent to prison for merely protesting. A 90-pound weakling, you aren't--90 pounds maybe, but....a heavyweight in the fight for peace and justice.

Thank you to Toni Smith, the young lady and athlete who turned her back on the flag during the National Anthem, in protest of this immoral and horrendous disaster in Iraq. You are a real hero.

Thank you, Dennis Kucinich, for your anti-war stance...even though you finally bowed to the Democratic Party, we will be counting on you to call for an immediate "cease fire" on the day President Kerry is sworn in. The Iraqi people are waiting to hear the word. So are we. A poll done at the Democratic Convention showed that 80% of the attendees want the war stopped now. (Don't let us down, guys, Iraq is the only reason you will have the White House. The "war" is a total disaster.)

Thank you to Barbara Lee of Oakland, who stood alone that September, casting the only "no" vote when the House gave President Bush backing for the war. She was the only one who heard us screaming NO!

Thank you to Jon Stewart and "The Daily Show." You are one of the few in television media to have the guts to show the true absurdity of the actions of the Bush Administration, day after day, using comedy to expose the real tragedy and travesty occurring in our name, with our money. You are a hero. Ditto to Al Franken.

To Molly Ivins and the small handful of journalists such as Robert Fisk, who stood with us in calling this whole "war" a sham....and are now proven to be completely right. And shame on the national television media that forgot what their real job is supposed to be.

Thank you, (Col.) David Hackworth, our most decorated living military warrior, for constantly telling the world about the horrid conditions of the forgotten common grunts, the people who actually pay the price for the poor decisions of the chicken-hawk-corps. You call a spade a spade, and you have never turned your back on the real men and women, those "in the field." As a former grunt, I truly appreciate your stand for the troops. Maybe someday we will have leaders who listen to the likes of men like you, men who have actually "been there" and don't want to see the same mistakes made over and over.

Thank you to the anti-war movement worldwide for drawing attention to this impending disaster, for crying out for a year before the war even started, that what we were doing was wrong, legally and morally. For example, the 15,000,000 people that joined together on February 15th, 2003, from all around the world, showing the world that with the internet, the politicians cannot stop us from organizing anywhere and anytime necessary. From Stuttgart to San Francisco, Singapore to St. Louis, Baton Rouge to Bangkok, all heroes. We can end war with laptops, digital cameras, and the internet. Just ask Secretary Rumsfeld, who wants to ban digital cameras from our troops and support personel, because he found out that you can't hide the facts and the truth with digital technology in the hands of "the little people."

Thank you to the soldiers in the field, who from the beginning realized that they were on "Mission Impossible," not "Operation Infinite Justice," as the Bush war-planners had named their "corporate war." You deserve much, much, better than to be forced to stay in the military against your wishes, as thousands of you are right now. Continue to speak out. Who can doubt the words of those who are there?

Naming a war before it is fought is obscene, but it's also proof that the "war" was pre-planned. The Bush thugs named this war "Infinite Justice," and even had commercial merchandise made up with that name on it. I bought some as proof--pins and buttons and uniform decorations for the military. Then, realizing their religious blunder, the war-criminals planning this massacre re-named their corporate raid "Operation Iraqi Freedom."

Freedom, my ass. Only in Orwellian terms has anyone been freed in this disaster. "Operation Iraqi Destruction and Construction" would have been more like it. Corporate warfare. May the Islamic world forgive us.

"Iraqi Freedom"? The Iraqi people reported yesterday that there are 37,000 Iraqis now "free" since we started dropping the bombs on March 19th, 2003--"liberated to death" by our President and his puppet masters, with their neocon dreams of (perceived) power and world domination. And almost 1000 of our own friends, children, sisters, brothers, husbands, and wives have tasted "Iraqi Freedom." These "freed" people are the ultimate heroes.

There are so many more heroes around our nation that may never be recognized..... such as Charlie Jenks, Woody Powell, Paula Henderson, Granny "D", Gerald Oleson, and the other thousands of "common citizens" who have organized in every community, independent of one another, to protest, to stop the war, to repeal the USAPA, to try and save our nation...

You talk about HEROES.....

You are all National Heroes, and I thank you all from the bottom of my (broken) heart.


Ward Reilly, of Baton Rouge, La., is a Vietnam Era Infantry veteran.



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This story was published on August 9, 2004.