Vigil was an act of courage

Letter to the editor

Posted: Monday, October 31, 2005

I would like to respond to Friday's story of one soldier's mother critical of the use of a symbolic casket at a recent silent vigil in Juneau marking the death of 2,000 of our U.S. military in Iraq.

As a daughter of poor immigrants, I grew up in a family proud to be United States citizens. The flag my father received the day he became a citizen was displayed prominently in our home. I grew up believing that our president and our elected officials would protect us and help us. The U.S. flag was a symbol of our freedom.

Up until the Iraq war you would never have seen me at a vigil, rally or protest, but we were lied to about the Iraq war. My president is putting in harm's way people I love, not for democracy, but for oil. These precious men and women are coming home in caskets or on gurneys with hideous injuries. But you won't see any photos or video of them because my president doesn't want me or you to see it.

Why? Because he knows how powerful a symbol a casket or a pair of empty army boots can be. "The casket pulls at the heart" because it is a tragic reminder of what is happening to our young men and women. Even an empty casket, draped in our country's flag, causes us to shudder.

The half-hour vigil held on Wednesday night was poignant because the people who gathered with candles came in peace. And in the awful, mighty silence, they stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Americans across this great nation to witness and remember what is happening in Iraq.

Sadly, a simple vigil such as this has practically become an act of courage. Most of us remain mute as the blood of our soldiers and innocent civilians continues to flow, the war budget drains our economy, and the oil companies get richer and richer.

Claire Richardson


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