Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Oct. 26: Honor the 2000 who died

The number of Americans who died fighting in Iraq has reached 2,000. It's hard to grasp the significance of a single life lost, much less 2,000 mostly young men and women. Cindy Sheehan gave us a glimpse of the grief experienced by those who lost a loved one and are asking themselves what noble cause these deaths are serving.

People across the U.S. will be honoring those who died by taking action on October 26. MoveOn.org, the American Friends Service Committee, and CodePink are coordinating local vigils; MoveOn alone has over 800 listed as I write. If you can't find one near you, you can post your own.

In addition to vigils, some will be setting up altars in public places to honor the military and civilian casualties (CodePink recommends candles, flowers, and photos for the altar). Some will visit their representatives with 2000 candles, stars, flags, or other objects that represent the number who have died.

There are lots of resources available from the organizations coordinating this October 26 outreach. You can download and print out a sign to post in your window or front lawn. You can download placards and signs with names of Americans, Iraqis, and end-the-war messages. You can make stars out of origami or cut paper to represent each of the casualties from your state or nationwide. You can read their names out loud at public events (find names, home towns, and date of death at icasualties.org). You can sign an on-line petition asking that the troops be brought home.

Iraqi suffering is less well reported even than American suffering, although the stories of loss occasionally get through. According to a recent poll, Iraqis would like the U.S. troops to leave. As quoted in the U.K.'s News.Telegraph, the poll shows that "82 percent of Iraqis are 'strongly opposed' to the presence of coalition troops; less than one per cent of the population believes coalition forces are responsible for any improvement in security; and 67 per cent of Iraqis feel less secure because of the occupation."

Americans are ready. Iraqis are ready. A number of people have outlined a plan to withdraw, among them Eric Leaver in his YES! article, Operation Homecoming. What will make the difference now is overwhelming popular pressure.

See you on the street.

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