2008/09/29:Soldiers protest Iraq war - IVAW-Madison

Soldiers protest Iraq war

By: Alyssa Connolly /The Daily Cardinal  - September 29, 2008

Students on campus gathered to hear soldiers from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan speak out against war.

20080929_news_iraq_story
By: Danny Marchewka /The Daily Cardinal
UW-Madison students participated in an Iraq war protest march following a panel discussion. Directors of the event told students not to be scared of protesting the war because soldiers and veterans would participate too.

 

University students and Madison residents joined members of Iraq Veterans Against the War for a panel discussion and protest march from Memorial Union to Brittingham Park Saturday.

IVAW organized the “Madison Winter Soldier” rally in reference to Thomas Paine’s “summer soldier”—one who shrinks from the service of his country in times of crisis.

IVAW-Central Ill. member Jason Wallace and IVAW-Madison President Christina Taber emceed the event. They introduced panel speakers who spoke about war terrors such as torture, dehumanization and death.

Veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, including Wallace, spoke about their experiences at war and stressed the need for the United States to pull troops out of Iraq.

“I think the occupation is illegal, immoral and the right thing to do is to give the country back to the people,” Wallace said. “We’ve taken away their sovereignty.”

According to Wallace, the three unity points of IVAW are to bring troops home immediately, to instill reparations for the Iraqi people and to have better care for veterans.

Taber said she joined IVAW after serving time as a mental-health specialist in the U.S. Army Reserves.

“The war stories really opened my eyes and opinions to the occupation,” she said.

Benjamin Thompson, who served as a prison guard at Abu Ghraib, talked about the media attention the prison received as a result of the 2004 accounts of abuse and torture.

“I served with great people and I served with some people who did horrible things,” Thompson said. “You see these things and you become a broken person … I want people to know that it happened.”

Following the panel, directors invited all attendees to participate in a protest march toward Brittingham Park. Wallace said people should not be afraid to speak out against the war because veterans were participating as well.

“We remember things we would rather forget, but when we speak up and share our stories we open up the possibility of healing,” Taber said. “We are here, and we are not merely survivors … we are winter soldiers.”

Taber spoke about the importance for students to learn about the veterans’ cause.

“They’re your classmates, they’re people’s family members and it’s important to engage young people, especially because it is our generation,” Taber said.

She encouraged students to get involved in the UW-Madison Campus Antiwar Network because it supports the IVAW movement.