send our children home

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    Send our children home, demand parents of US troops
    By Susannah Rosenblatt
    August 15, 2003

    Military families frustrated with the long tours of duty for US troops in Iraq have begun a campaign seeking an end to the US military engagement and the return of troops.

    Parents whose children are stationed in Iraq revealed the effort, dubbed Bring Them Home Now, at a news conference in Washington on Wednesday.

    "It was wrong for the US to invade Iraq, it is wrong for the US to be occupying Iraq," said organiser Nancy Lessin of Boston.

    "There is no right way to do a wrong thing."

    Earlier this year, Ms Lessin and her husband, Charley Richardson, co-founded Military Families Speak Out, a group of about 600 families who oppose US military action in Iraq. Their son Joe, 25, was sent there with the marines in August last year and returned home in May.

    Organisers of the Bring Them Home Now campaign, many of them wearing peace symbol buttons, decried the Bush Administration's support of a conflict they said was unnecessary. "This is a war that has been based on a series of lies; a war based on posturing on the deck of a carrier and from the safety of the White House," Mr Richardson said. He and others said Iraq posed no immediate danger to the US, and pointed out that the Government had not uncovered weapons of mass destruction or links between the al-Qaeda network responsible for the September 11 attacks and ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

    But a Pentagon official said the group's indictment of the US military effort did not reflect most Americans' views. "Our hearts go out to anyone who's lost a loved one in Iraq or whose loved one is still in harm's way," said Lieutenant-Colonel James Cassella, a Defence Department spokesman. "I think the best way to honour them is to accomplish the mission which they sacrificed so much to achieve."

    He said the group was "clearly out of step with the vast majority of service members, military families and veterans who understand we can fight and win the global war on terrorism in places like Iraq or we can lose it in the streets of America".

    But some soldiers' relatives said the mission was misguided from the start.

    Fernando Suarez del Solar of Escondido, California, spoke tearfully of his son, marine Lance Corporal Jesus Suarez, who was killed in Iraq on March 27, one of the first US casualties. "I ask President Bush: How many sons do you need (before we) bring our children home?" he said. "How many American lives are worth one gallon of oil?

    "Many (Latinos) are afraid to speak out against the war," Mr Suarez said. "They think Immigration is going to deport them. I know many Hispanic families that have sons in the war who oppose the war, but don't say anything."

    - Los Angeles Times
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