Are we watching passively while Barack Obama carries out the same policies as George W. Bush?
When an American bombing raid this May killed over two hundred civilians in a village in Afghanistan, it was met with a deafening silence. When Obama’s promised “withdrawal” from Iraq leaves 130,000 troops there for at least two more years and 50,000 permanently, it’s hailed as an end to the occupation. And who is demanding to know just what the mission really is when 30,000 more troops are sent to Afghanistan?
Where’s the debate?
In March of 2008, two hundred and fifty veterans and active duty soldiers marked the fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq by gathering in Washington, DC, to testify from their own experience about the nature of the occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq. It was chilling, horrifying, and challenging for all who witnessed it. Against tremendous odds, they brought the voices of the veterans themselves into the debate. That was then.
This is now. Today, we present to you This is Where We Take Our Stand, the inside story of those three days and the courageous men and women who testified. And we present this story today, told in six episodes, because we believe it is as relevant now as it was one year ago. Maybe more.
Here is our challenge to you: Watch the series; spread it far and wide; and ask yourself is this about the past, or the present and future. Then add your voice.
If you are a veteran or active duty, present your own testimony. If you are not, but you are still a living, breathing member of the human race, then do whatever you can to join and fan the flames of debate.
David Zeiger, Director of & Bestor Cram
Episode One: For Those Who Would Judge Me
March 13, 2008: As hundreds of veterans and over a thousand supporters gather just outside Washington, DC for three days of testimony, the pressure is high and questions intense. How is the testimony verified? What will people think of veterans and soldiers for being here? What good will this do? Without hesitation Geoff Millard (US Army National Guard), Steve Mortillo (US Army), and Adam Kokesh (US Marine Corps) respond to “those who would judge me” with a clear purpose and their chilling stories.
Episode Two: Rules of Engagement
As testimony continues, the question “What about the Iraqi people?” takes center stage. When you are part of an occupying army and most of them want to kill you, who do you blame? Clifton Hicks recounts a deadly assault his unit made on a civilian neighborhood while struggling with his inability to identify with their pain. Jason Hurd argues, though, that this war will never end until people know the suffering we have brought to the people there. For him, Winter Soldier is a way to apologize to the people of Iraq and Afghanistan.
Episode Three: Why We Fight
Flashback to January, three months before Winter Soldier. How do you bring hundreds of veterans to Washington DC, to tell their stories? An IVAW national planning meeting reveals sharp differences among the members. Is the point of Winter Soldier to show how these wars are hurting America, or the destruction America is bringing to the people of Iraq and Afghanistan? Is the goal to strengthen the military, or weaken it? Despite the differences, a deep unity is built because, as Geoff Millard declares, the bottom line is “No one can hear our stories and still support this shit.”
Episode Four: Broken Soldier
Why are so many veterans coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan psychologically damaged? Is it the natural trauma of war, or the product of military whose mission is to occupy and suppress the civilian population? Zolie Goodman recounts the racism against Iraqis imbued in his unit, while Kris Goldsmith reveals the hatred that finally made him a “broken soldier,” caught in the endless web of the Veterans Administration. And the parents of Jeffrey Lucey mourn their son, one of thousands who could no longer live with what he had become.
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