Marines Don't Cry; We Kill
Speaking out against an unjust and immoral war
Patrisia Gonzales and Roberto Rodriguez
Suffering is associated with mothers, says Fernando Suarez del Solar. But fathers also suffer, he says. His son, Jesus Alberto, was killed in Iraq in 2003. Since then, he has been speaking out against what he considers an illegal and immoral war. Such are his thoughts now, when people celebrate Father's Day amid a rising opposition to the war.
Published on LatinoLA: June 17, 2004
Del Solar, from San Diego, a member of Military Families Speak Out at http://www.mfso.org, was recently awarded the 2004 Peace Award by the War Resisters League for his work in opposing the war. He's also the founder of Guerreros Aztecas por la Paz (Aztec Warriors for Peace) at http://www.guerreroazteca.org, a project dedicated to assisting veterans in their return to civil society.
Most soldiers are noble when they go in, he says, "but they're being transformed into beasts." He cites the example of U.S. coalition soldiers engaging in torture, disagreeing that it's but a few bad apples.
He relates that when his son went in for counseling as a result of the war, he was told by a Marine psychologist: "Marines don't cry. We kill."
"That's not assistance," he notes.
Such an experience is familiar to Florida National Guardsman Staff Sgt. Camilo Mejia, who was recently court-martialed for refusing to return to duty. Mejia says he could no longer participate in an immoral war, also indicating his disapproval of the torture of Iraqi prisoners (this was before the Abu Ghraib photos were revealed).
Del Solar is also greatly bothered by the steady stream of troubling revelations over the administration's legal musings regarding torture. Yet he says that, to him, torture goes beyond the memos and the photos. "The parents (of soldiers) are also suffering.
"I know many parents who are opposed to the war, but they fear retaliation and prefer to remain in silence. That is torture."
He stays in contact with his son's friends, who tell him that things are much more dire in Iraq than is generally reported. "There's no longer a volunteer army," he says. As a result of the Pentagon's so-called "stop-loss" program, many soldiers are now serving against their will. "That's another form of torture."
Del Solar has even gone to Iraq to try to understand the war. When he began speaking out last year, he was accused of being unpatriotic and disloyal. He was also constantly told to go back where he came from. That is no longer happening as much, he says. "People are becoming aware that the decision to go to war was a great error and a great lie. This is not just about a loss of soldiers. It's about the loss of a generation. It's about a crisis in values."
Tony Castaneda, of Madison, Wis., is also a member of Military Families Speak Out. His son, a U.S. Marine, is stationed outside of Fallujah. He is sickened not just by the war, "but by the lies that got us into the war." (See the March 2004 "Iraq on the Record" report, presented by Rep. Henry Waxman, which documents some 237 misleading statements by the Bush administration.) "They lied to us," he says.
Castaneda has a radio show where he regularly denounces the war. "My son tells me that everyone waves to the soldiers during the day, but they attack them by night. I'm concerned about that. I'm concerned for his well-being, and I'm also concerned how he will be when he comes back."
Yet his war opposition has little to do with the fact that his son is in Iraq. "I'm opposed to the war because it's wrong and it's stupid. We shouldn't be there at all."
Despite having a son in Iraq, he has no qualms about opposing the war. "We can support the troops. They're just doing their jobs. It's up to us (civilians) to end the war."
He is aware that in past conflicts, virtually all military families were staunch war supporters. But that's not the case now, Castaneda says. And of those who continue to support it, he says, "Either they don't know (the revelations about the war) or they don't want to know."
Neither Castaneda nor Del Solar minces his words, nor is either a great fan of a second Bush term, though they're not exactly Kerry or Nader fans either. Del Solar says: "He (Bush) can't win ... unless he steals the election again."
Castaneda says that if Kerry is elected, "We will have to pressure him, too. The whole war is illegitimate, regardless of who is in office."
(c) Universal Press Syndicate 2004
Patrisia Gonzales and Roberto Rodriguez:
Rodriguez & Gonzales can be reached at: XColumn@aol.com XColumn@aol.com or 608-238-3161, PO BOX 5093, Madison, WI 53705