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E-Mails from A Former Military Man

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The subject line of the e-mail read "Thanks." The author expressed his condolences for the loss of my nephew in Iraq. He, then, told me his story. I asked permission to use his name and his words. Jess agreed:

I have a 30 year old son who returned from his second rotation in Iraq this past Veteran's Day. He was also among the first soldiers that initially set up the torture chambers for Bush and Rumsfeld in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

From the early days in Guantanamo, my son expressed concerns about the motives for the war. It was here that he took a position of nonsupport for it.

When his unit was called to duty in March, 2003, I offered to send him to Canada. At the time, we were sitting on the parking lot pavement of a Fort Hood, TX recreation center where he was scheduled to depart from.

He said, 'I am going there so I can bring the men I am responsible for back home to their loved ones. That is the only reason.'

I cried and am still crying, even as I write you.

My son knew what I had known for most of the 32 years I served in the military. Soldiers falsely believe they have the best equipment, the right equipment, the best training, and, of course, they are doing it for freedom and democracy. This actually puts them more at risk during missions.

Two times he's deployed to Iraq for a total of 25 months. He hated every minute in Iraq. He hates what the Government has done to the people there and to the soldiers in the military.

I thought I would be able to sleep through the night once he returned. A foolish thought. Knowing others are serving and dying in a senseless war still keeps me awake.

My 'Get out of Iraq Now' decal was ripped off the bumper of my truck while parked in the lot where I work.

Why isn't the media making every death in Iraq prime time?

This poignant message, in support of my own beliefs, touched my soul.

Jess wrote that he began to script a press release in the event his son was killed in the war:

I demanded he not be called a hero. I demanded that the media not say he died defending freedom and democracy. Rather, I wanted the press to say that he died in vain and on behalf of government lies. I insisted that the press say he died not defending the Constitution and the borders of this country as he swore he would do.

In an act of defiance and protest,I plotted a plan to drive his body home to Oklahoma from Dover AFB. My plan was to pursue the military to deliver his body outside the Dover gates. From there, I was going to place his casket on an open trailer. I wanted the world to see what Bush was hiding when he prohibited photos of the caskets arriving endlessly from the criminal war in Iraq. My plan was to make a slow trip home to allow the media an opportunity to showcase my sorrow and protest. I am thankful I didn't have to execute this idea

I wrote Jess that when my nephew was killed, he came back to his beloved Bluegrass State with his head completely wrapped in gauze. I wanted my family to agree to an open-casket funeral. I wanted all who attended and the press to see what this war had done to him.

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Missy Beattie lives in New York City. She's written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. An outspoken critic of the Bush Administration and the war in Iraq, she's a member of Gold Star Families for Peace. She completed a (more...)
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