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An Iraq Veteran Against the War Speaks

By Clifton Hicks

Remarks at Orlando anti-war Rally / October 27, 2007

I volunteered to fight in Iraq when I was seventeen years old and three of my best friends died there. The first was burned to death when his tank was hit by a rocket, the second was shot by a sniper, and the third was blown to pieces by an I.E.D. Four years later I stand before you in the name of peace and liberty and I stand with you against the illegal, immoral and unnecessary occupation of Iraq. (Applause)

When I joined the Army, I swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, be they foreign or domestic. To this day I still live by that oath and that is exactly why I am here today, on top of this stage, right now. Every single veteran in this country has a duty to resist this war.

In October of 2003, I was ordered to join the first squadron
of the First United States Cavalry Regiment which had been in combat
already for five months in Baghdad. When I got there they gave me an M-16
rifle and a bullet-proof vest and in exchange for this, they took from me,
my soul and my conscience and for ten months, everysingle aspect of my
humanity. They told me to forget everything that I'd ever known or thought
I knew. They told me to shoot first and ask questions later. They told me
that if I wanted to survive, I would turn myself into a machine. Well.....I
wanted to survive, so I turned myself into a machine. I shut my mouth and I
shut my ears and my heart and I didn't hear the screaming of the people
that died, or the pleading of the women whose husbands we took away in the
night, or the motherless children who begged for food and water. It was
easy for me to ignore these pretend that they didn't affect me
because I was so afraid. I was afraid of dying. I was more afraid of being
crippled and even more afraid of what would happen to me if I was ever
captured by the enemy and for that purpose I kept an extra bullet in my
pocket, this pocket right here, so that I could always blow my own brains
out if I ever had to.

By the time I was nineteen I learned that the natural human
reaction to fear is hatred, shortly followed by violence because any Iraqi
might potentially pose a threat, all were treated as the enemy. And
eventually as casualties mounted and families fell apart back home, abusing
the Iraqis was seen as a simple matter of revenge, whether it be
demolishing their homes with our tanks; handcuffing and publicly beating
them in front of their families, destroying their livestock and burning
down their places of business, kidnapping entire male populations of
villages to be tortured in secret prisons, refusing basic medical care to
mothers with dying children, cheering from rooftops while entire apartment
complexes filled with people were leveled by C130 gun ships or even
covering up the wrongful deaths of local civilians.

Now understand......that I speak not of rumors or of hearsay
or of things I've read about. I speak of things I have seen with my own
eyes and things I have done with my own two hands. I am GUILTY of these
things! Because of our hatred for the Iraqis and our fear and mistrust for
our own corrupt and abusive leadership none of the occurrences were ever
questioned. They were simply accepted as the way things had to be. And make
no mistake........when the American Army or the American Marine Corps rolls
into a populated area, they KILL EVERYBODY. It's understood than anybody
who's still there is the enemy, and these people are killed wantonly. It
happens's happening right now.......and I'm not here to
tell you horror stories. I'm not here to shock you because none of these
things should come as a surprise to any of us. We've seen it all before
throughout history, the countless times we've murdered each other by the
thousands and the millions over nothing.....absolutely nothing. Whether
we're talking about Iraq or Viet Nam, the First World War or even our own
Civil War, all of these tragedies, these fool's errors, as I like to call
them, they've all had one thing in common, besides fear, hatred and death.
All of these things resulted from the same pointless and idiotic logic, the
same greed for wealth and power and the same disregard for the sanctity
and value for human life.....(Applause)

I don't know about you folks, but I for one am getting really
sick and tired of being thrown to the G..D.... lions everytime some
high-born coward like George Bush or Dick Cheney decides that we need
another war. (Applause)

I came here today, along with all of you good people, to send
a message to these lying, low-down yellow-bellied C... S...'n cowards in
Washington, that the American people are against this stupid war and the
American people will not stand for it one F...... day longer. (Applause)

In closing, I want to tell you about a conversation I had with
my Father just the other day. Now Dad, he was a veteran. He was in the
Army back in the sixties, and his Dad was a WW2 veteran, so this is not
B.S. He said, "History has well proven that the US cannot be defeated from
without. It can only be defeated from within." Now these scumbags that are
running our country today, have been lying to us for years now and what
they tell us is that, "Well it's better to fight 'em over there than over here." well that sounds all
pretty well and good doesn't it? But what they've never told us is that
the enemy is already here. And that they never came from places like Iraq
or Viet Nam or Afghanistan or Russia or anyplace like that, but they were
all born and raised right here in the United States...... andthey all call
themselves Presidents and Congressman and Senators and they all live in
this shitty s-hole called Washington D.C
...........Thank-you all...That's
all I've got...... (Applause).."

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The clarity with which this young soldier sees the tragedy that is
engulfing America ( and therefore, the world ) is both astonishing and
touching. Obviously age and wisdom do not go hand in hand. Would that those blind older fools that we call our leaders remove the dark scales from their eyes and look to the souls of the young for enlightenment.

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