OBSERVATIONS FROM TEXAS:
Memorial to those Killed In Action Has Been Desecrated at "Camp Casey"
In the late 60's and early 70's, the Nixon regime went to great lengths to spread rumors and lies about the returning troops being spat-upon by protestors, claiming that the soldiers were treated like criminals when they returned from Viet Nam.
Almost every one of those claims were discredited, and not a single case has been actually documented, but today the dis-honoring of the KIA from Iraq has come full circle. Today it was a common Republican thug who really did do the "spitting."
This morning, a crazed Bush-Cheney supporter ran over the crosses and stars that made up the "Arlington West" KIA monument at "Camp Casey," a non-partisan monument that had been built by war veterans to honor every soldier, sailor, and marine that has been killed in Iraq, and named after KIA soldier Casey Sheehan, a soldier who was told to his face that he would "never see war or combat because of his great army test scores." I'll bet that Casey and the others that died with him thought they were in combat.
Every one of those memorial markers had the name of a KIA troop on it, a soldier who has given his or her life for the very man that ran them over.
In this case the driver of the truck actually built an apparatus on his vehicle to insure maximum destruction to the shrine. Larry Northern of Waco, Texas stopped his truck, hooked a metal bar to a chain trailing behind his pickup truck, and proceeded to drive the length of the site, trying to destroy the memorial, which had taken several days for veterans to set up. He knocked down about 75% of the markers, and completely destroyed about 100 of the almost 2000 markers that had been meticulously placed.
War veterans quickly got back to work in the 100 degree sun to remake the memorial site.
Ironically, it was one of the destroyed markers that was the downfall of the Bush supporter who was caught shortly after, as a broken marker punctured his tire, leading to his capture, and he was charged with destruction of property, a felony.
In my opinion, if this is not a hate crime, directed at veterans and anti-war citizens, I don't know what is, and that is what this neocon-lover should be charged with. He has spat on the troops coming home in the most cowardly way possible.
This was no drunken teenager; rather, it was a grown man who planned this destructive and disrespectful act. The "Camp Casey" memorial site should be considered as nothing less than any other war memorial, and it reflects the complete reversal of what the Republicans' mantra was during Viet Nam--that being that the anti-war crowd was disrespectful to our troops upon return.
Now who is being disrespectful, Mr. President and all you Republican backers of this disaster in Iraq? One of your followers, that's who. This time we now have proof of who "spits on the troops."
One woman showed up at the site, proclaiming that she did not support the anti-war folk, but that she was ashamed of the actions of her fellow war supporter.
I am happy to report that Arlington West's memorial will be in tip-top shape shortly. This and other acts of hatred expressed toward those in Camp Casey has had a reverse effect: more people than ever are flocking to Crawford, Texas, and "Camp Caseys" are popping up all over the nation, as are vigils in honor of our KIA soldiers.
A local landowner has now donated an acre of his property to make the lives of the anti-war folk even nicer than it has been, if that is possible. If you ever wanted to see what pure love looks like, just travel out to Crawford and be a part of "Camp Casey." Cindy Sheehan isn't going anywhere, and a huge gathering of citizens trying to save our nation will not be denied.
I spent four days there, and I am heading back. It is unlike anything in United States history, and I will stand with all my fellow vets, squarely behind Cindy and the KIA soldiers we are honoring.
Ward Reilly is the Southeast national contact for Vietnam Veterans against the War, and a member of Veterans For Peace. He was a volunteer Infantryman in the First Infantry Division from 1971 to 1974.
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This story was published on August 18, 2005.
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