Later, and before the rally proper started, I asked Congressman Bob Filner (D-51), and current candidate for Mayor of San Diego, what was his view of this anniversary. He told me that it was "a sad anniversary. We should not be there. Casualties are not being reported. It is time to bring the troops home."
We had a minute to talk about the five-dollar fee to come to Balboa Park. Congressman Filner said that he was opposed to it. He also feels very confident about the coming election.
Then the Congressman was introduced to the rally attendants. He was once a civil rights marcher. As he climbed the stage and took the microphone he repeated what he told me, that this was a sad anniversary. He also told the audience "one million vets have shown up to the VA from this war"there is a deliberate attempt to mislead the people" as to the true cost of the war.
Filner was also emphatic, "as a historian if Alexander the Great could not do it, the Soviets could not do it, the British could not do it, how can we do it?"
Filner ended by telling the crowd, "I support the troops, bring them home."
Dave Paterson from Veterans for Peace spoke of the rallies they have every Thursday in front of General Atomics in Poway. He addressed an issue that has troubled me for a while. "People are beginning to think that sending their sons to war is not ok, but maybe it is by remote control."
He added, "they think it is great, not to send their sons to war and who the hell cares who gets killed. Less than 2% are known terrorist." This has troubled me for some time. War is becoming too easy, because nobody on our side is at risk.
Perhaps, as Paterson went on, the fact that the FAA is getting pressured to open US Skies to drones, that might bring the point home. It is not ok. He invited the audience to join them every Thursday at Poway.
Retired Colonel David Gapp took the stage next. He reminisced that his father was killed in Vietnam when he was young. His father left behind kids who were between four and twelve years of age.
This war also is seeing an average in the dead that is low. For example Kamela Sleed was 31, and she was a resident of the City of San Diego.
Gapp also reminded the audience that while the war in Iraq is over, we still have one hundred thousand contractors still in country. He added that so far for Afghanistan we have lost 4, 485 casualties (not just American, this is the total for the coalition). Among them was David Emmanuel Hickman who was 24 and died on November 14, 2001. He was the first casualty of the war.
"Before Obama took over, 650 were killed, now 2115 dead." He spoke of the surge as well, as the estimated Afghan casualties, that right now are around twelve thousand, with over one million internally displaced.
Maurice Martin is a veteran of another silent war. He was in the US Army, and in the 1970s he spent some time in El Salvador, before the Central American Wars fully exploded.
He is also the organizer of the City College Chapter of Veterans against the war. Martin thanked Occupy, and reminded the crowd that this the 100th anniversary of the Free Speech Movement. "And still today Occupy cannot stand in front of the Civic Center."
Martin emphasized that these days "They need more tax cuts for the rich. Really? Promote war, but not pay for it?"