5 years in Iraq

Yesterday marked the 5th Anniversary of our involvement in Iraq.

I am proud that my family has been serving our country militarily since WWII, with one of my Grandfather's present at the storming of the beach at Normandy, France, eventually getting a Purple Heart for his efforts during The Battle of the Bulge. Both of my grandfathers (one Navy, one Army) served, my father was a Sailor, both my brothers have served as Sailors, and a slew of aunts, uncles and cousins have fitted our country with military men and women in every branch of service. I am a staunch Patriot in the deepest sense: I love our country and I thank God every day for our freedoms. That said, I am in opposition of futile and injust battle. I don't have the words to properly express what I feel about this situation with Iraq, so I will share a quote (the author is unknown to me) that I have hanging in my room, which best describes my feelings on the current situation. "Fighting for peace is like fucking for virginity."

I also wanted to share this article from the Oakland Press (Oakland County, MI) which was in the paper yesterday. It is of particular interest as a group that began at my church and contains many of our parishioners, Women & Men in Black is mentioned! Woot woot Sue B!

PUBLISHED: Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Five years in Iraq
Oakland mixed on toll of war


By JERRY WOLFFE
Of The Oakland Press

County residents seem torn by the Iraq war, which began with "Shock and Awe" on March 19, 2003, and has cost the lives of 4,298 coalition forces. In addition to the 3,989 Americans killed as of Monday, up to 53,000 military personnel have been wounded, according to Department of Defense.

"We're losing a lot of lives and its ruining the economy," said Walter Holoweski, 85, of Farmington Hills, a World War II veteran who received Purple Hearts for gunshot and shrapnel wounds.

"Billions and billions of dollars are going into this war that could go into the economy here and help out America," he said.

Holoweski said Americans were misled by the Bush administration because no link between Saddam Hussein and 9/11 was proved. Nor did coalition forces find any weapons of mass destruction, as former Secretary of State Colin Powell said in a speech to the U.N. before Iraq was attacked five years ago today.

"I'd try to find a way out of this thing," Holoweski said. "They got to get them Iraqis fighting their own war."

The voice of John Bushart, 58, of Waterford Township grows softer when he remembers Nov. 22, 2003 - the day his son, Pfc. Damian Bushart, was killed in Baghdad.

Damian, 22, suffered fatal injuries when his Humvee hit a U.S. tank.

"I'd stay the course and get in there and make sure the job is done," said Damian's father. "I'm proud as ever of my son. How could I not be?"

He said his family has served in the U.S. military since the Civil War. Bushart saw combat in both Vietnam and Desert Storm while in the Air Force.

"My ideal situation is to see the U.S. government back this effort entirely," he said. "And, I would like to see the press be fair and accurate in reporting on the success of our entire time over there. We've built schools, hospitals and done other good things."

He said he believed in the "domino theory" - that if Iraq became controlled by Islamic extremists, a Jihad, or holy war, could envelop the region.

Army Maj. Dawn Dancer said Michigan has 1,000 soldiers and airmen from the Michigan National Guard deployed throughout the world.

"The majority are in Iraq," she said, adding 148 Michigan soldiers have been killed in the war.
"We also are literally across the globe in Afghanistan, Kuwait, Bosnia, Kosovo, the Sinai Peninsula and Guantanamo Bay," she said.

After 9/11, the National Guard was deployed here at the two international bridges and tunnel to Canada from Michigan, she said.

In addition, guardsmen are assigned to all major airports in Michigan, Dancer said.
"We have 1,000 soldiers deployed but will still have 10,000 soldiers and airmen in Michigan to go wherever they are needed," she said.

The fact that this war is now in its fifth year is "indicative of our lack of foresight to begin this conflict in the first place," said Sue Buratto, an organizer of The Men and Women in Black anti-war protesters.

The Rochester Hills woman said her group holds a protest at 5 p.m. the second Friday of each month outside the entrance to Oakland University and has been doing so for the past 18 months.
"We do not understand the cultural differences in Iraq," said Buratto.

"Moreover, we did not have the foresight for what we were getting ourselves into and now we don't know how to extract ourselves from the war.

"Our Christian values should lead us in another direction with respect to solving conflicts," she said.

"Wars don't solve anything, especially wars like this one," said World War II Navy veteran and VFW Post 3941 member Charles Siroonian.

"When you attack a country, invade a country, and displace 4 million people and get our soldiers killed, what can you say? It's a mistake."

The way to get out of Iraq is "just get out," he added.

"You walk away from it. If the United States took that money and spent it on the United States, we'd have prosperity instead of this recession, and all those young people wouldn't be disabled and killed."

Contact staff writer Jerry Wolffe at (248) 745-4612 or jerry.wolffe@oakpress.com.

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