WILL THEY EVER TRUST US AGAIN? -- LETTERS FROM THE WAR ZONE
Letter from Abdul Henderson
Decorated Marine Lance Co1poral Abdul Henderson j principled decision to refuse any future orders to return to Iraq under threat of jail time is born of his conviction that the war being waged there is an unjust one. Lance Corporal Henderson embodies a unique and instructive courage. His story is featured in Fahrenheit 9/11.
It is an honor to be asked by Mr. Moore to share my thoughts and feelings. I would first like to say that I am not anti-war or anti-military service. It's also been an even bigger honor to be able to contribute the last five years of my life to defending the United States of America. That is what I felt I was doing by appearing in Fahrenheit 9111, defending the United States. It is my civic duty as a Marine and a citizen to protect the Constitution and the sanctity of democracy.
No soldier ever dies in vain in war, if it is justified or not. A soldier's willingness to sacrifice his life for a larger cause is a selfless act and a very humble one indeed. A soldier dies in vain only when the citizens of America don't partake in the political process by not voting. The very essence of democracy is the vote! The ability to pick and choose the leaders of the United States is what we die and fight for. Most countries in the world don't have that ability and would love to be able to simply cast a vote and truly pick their leaders.
People who don't vote for one reason or another do a disservice to the men and women in uniform who protect that right and other rights that are provided to citizens under the Constitution. Every now and then the process seems to have broken, and corruption is very evident, but it is the vote that is to provide the checks and balances. If the vast majority of Americans don't take the time to vote or take the time to understand the political process, we will find that more situations like the war in Iraq will occur.
The war in Iraq is unwarranted and the costs are too high for the American people. We are spending a billion dollars a week to rebuild and secure a country that was no "imminent threat" to America. It is sad to say that there are some places in Iraq that are more secure than some places in America. We are spending a billion dollars a week to rebuild Iraq's educational infrastructure when there are students across America who can't take home books to do homework. We are spending a billion dollars a week to rebuild Iraq's health-care infrastructure when America's elderly and children don't have any health-care coverage. Just imagine if we spent a billion dollars a week to rebuild America's schools and neighborhoods.
The war rhetoric before Operation Iraqi Freedom began was that Saddam Hussein was an imminent threat to America and that he has weapons of mass destruction. From my experience in Iraq and my understanding of imminent threats like the Germans and the Japanese during World War II, the Chinese during the Korean War, and communist Russia during the cold war, Iraq was no imminent threat. Threats of this magnitude fight until there is no one else standing. They don't leave entire tank divisions abandoned in the desert like the Iraqis did. Soldiers don't bring hand- bags with civilian clothes in them and then change from army fatigues to civilian clothes and then desert their post to return home to their neighborhoods and villages. Imminent threats have a military infrastructure that is sustainable. They don't have buildings that are in ruins like every military installation we occupied in Iraq. And where are the weapons of mass destruction?
War should not be waged unless it is absolutely necessary! It is unfair to the men and women of the armed services to have their sense of duty and obligation taken advantage of in an unjust war. Most military personnel will fight and die for this country and not ask a question as to why war is being waged. It is the pride of serving that prevents most soldiers from questioning authority. That's why I joined the Marine Corps, the pride. I didn't join be- cause of necessity. I joined because I wanted to.
As the war in Iraq continues to be waged with no end in sight, I have only one request of the reader, and that is to get involved in the democratic process, understand how our country works, understand who is running our country, and, most important, voice your opinions, even if it's contrary to the nation's leadership. That's what democracy is all about. And don't forget to vote, because the politicians work for you, you don't work for the politicians; hold them accountable for their actions. As Abraham Lincoln once said, "If you give the people the facts, the Republic will be safe."
Abdul R. Henderson
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WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP END THE WAR IN IRAQ
1. Vote. In a country where not even 50 percent of eligible voters voted in the last election, the single most important thing that you can do as an American citizen is take part in our democracy.
2. Read and get informed. We're lucky to live in a time where the world's newspapers, magazines, and opinion journals are just a mouse click away: you just need to take advantage.
3. Contact your congressman or congresswoman and your senators expressing your desire for an end to this unjust war. Tell them that the lies of this administration have been exposed and we want our sons and daughters and brothers and sisters back home.
4. Find a peace group in your area and get involved. United for Peace & Justice's website (http://www.unitedforpeace.org/) has a complete guide to finding Peace and Justice groups in your area.
Michael Moore has won an Oscar (Bowling for Columbine), an Emmy (TVNation), a Palme d'Or at Cannes (Fahrenheit 9/11), and a British Book of the Year award (Stupid White Men). He was an Eagle Scout, a seminarian, and the first eighteen-year-old elected to public office. He has never bowled over 200.