A couple of weeks ago I overheard a conversation in line at the grocery store. A very fit, tall man in his early 30s was saying that his unit had just been called up and was shipping out the following Saturday. He was worried because he was the only one who was taking care of a friend sick with cancer. He picked a $5 food-for-the-poor card off the rack to put with the rest of his items.
With each bit of news since, I think of this humble man. The fabricated documents "proving" Iraq purchased nuclear material from Niger; the State Department report contradicting the administration's theory that an invasion of Iraq will initiate a democratic domino effect in the Middle East; the macho yet insecure Euro-bashing -- these and many more leave a terrible feeling in my gut. To the young man, I salute you. To this administration, I say, do not go to war with ears muffled, false words spoken and motives hidden. Do not betray the loyalty of this soldier whom you send into the breach.
Philip van Allen
Thirty-five years ago this month, I returned to the U.S., having finished my tour in Vietnam with the Marines. I came home with a very empty feeling that I had just participated in a shameful and immoral activity. That same empty feeling went through me the evening of March 17 when the president of the United States declared he was sending another batch of young Americans into war.
I recalled instantly the thousands of Americans and millions of Vietnamese, Cambodians and Laotians killed in the Southeast Asian war of 1959-75. Unfortunately, the president had other feelings in mind when he announced his "ultimatum" to Baghdad.
I pray that the people of Iraq and the front-line U.S. military personnel somehow never suffer in the near future from the same feelings of shame and immorality that were rekindled for me while watching the "leader of the free world" raise his sword of war.
Herman E. Seiser