Mourning the Iraq War’s Fifth
I attended the Ferndale High School students'
peace march and rally on March 19, the fifth
anniversary of the US-led invasion and occupation
of Iraq. Later, during rush hour, I joined
with 150 people gathered at seven Bellingham
intersections to demonstrate what we could
have done for healthcare, education, and infrastructure
for the cost of one or two hours of the war
in Iraq. That night, I held a candle
at the Peace and New Priorities Vigil held
by MoveOn at Bellingham City Hall.
I want to congratulate all those participants
and their supporters for getting out
and standing up for our Constitution, which
calls upon us, the sovereign people, to hold
our government accountable. I want to acknowledge
the bravery of veterans and military families,
especially two that I saw who have lost
sons in Iraq, for being present at these events.
I want to thank the mayors of Ferndale and
Bellingham for speaking at two of these events.
How gracious of Mayor Gary Jensen to say “Yes”
to the young people who asked him to give
them some words on a day they worked so hard
to create. How important that he encouraged
these students to take even more responsibility
as full participants in their democracy by
learning and voting and working hard to be
good citizens! And how positive an act for
Dan Pike to get up and say some good words
spontaneously, when asked if he would, by
the moderator of the vigil.
These mayors are far from the first to have
the courage and sense of responsibility to
be heard in this time of mourning and outrage.
Many others have preceded them. Almost
300 American cities have passed Troops Home
resolutions or ballot measures, including
I was born in Binghamton, N.Y., a conservative
city of 47,000, now struggling to recover
its economy. At a March 2006 rally to mark
the third anniversary of the war in Iraq,
Binghamton Mayor Matthew T. Ryan spoke these
words: "As a citizen, I have an obligation
to question and challenge our nation's policy
of pre-emptive aggression. As Mayor
of Binghamton, I have an obligation to address
the needs of our community, and I am participating
in this rally to let our federal representatives
know that it is wrong to divert billions of
tax dollars to a dubious war overseas when
our domestic needs are so great."
I am proud of my birthplace and equally proud
of my home of 13 years, Bellingham.
I am proud of any one, any where, who is
compassionate enough to care about the Iraqi
people, and about our troops' minds,
bodies and souls, compromised because
they are good men and women sent into
an illegal, immoral and unwinnable war; and
I challenge those who want to keep them there
to ask themselves two questions:
Will you spend the rest of your life to give
the fallen a legacy of peace and the rule
of law; and will you spend the rest of your
life taking care of the rehabilitation and
emotional healing of as many veterans as you
I promise that I will.
Ellen Murphy is a volunteer
with the Whatcom Peace & Justice Center.
Her 2003 trial exposed the deadly use of Depleted
Uranium by the US Army. She continues to
work with DU-exposed veterans.