Lt. Ehren Watada Update

Hi Nancy-
    Ehren Watada became very real for us at Camp Casey the night our evening vigil honored our solidarity with him. [See entry on this blog, August 17, 2006 http://danceforpeace.org/nancy/?p=14 ]  Now, his family is on a nationwide tour to tell his story, and Sunday they made two appearances in Austin. I wish you could have been there to hear them, and to be with many of our Camp Casey friends. I wrote the story below to tell people about this extraordinary man and his totally supportive family. I hope you get to meet them and hear their presentation.
 
    It is sobering to realize that Lieutenant Watada is facing court martial because he did what he thought was the right thing to do: He educated himself about the situation in Iraq, and he refused deployment!
 
    Participants at the events were as diverse as the people of the peace movement. On a shirt I read: “When Jesus said love your enemies, I’m pretty sure he meant don’t kill them.”  Another shirt was emblazoned with bright letters that spelled out “Haight Ashbury.” Attendees conversed about their lives: One was the wife of a soldier soon to be deployed to Iraq; another was a Fort Hood sergeant on his way back to the Middle East. A speaker quoted President Jimmy Carter: “The complacency of the American people is the problem . . .  not the administration.”
 
Peace, Patrice
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 Image

Photo of Lt. Watada speaking at the Veterans for Peace Conference, August 12, 2006.
 
 
 Ehren Watada: A Matter of Conscience
 
 
   AUSTIN — Lieutenant Ehren Watada may spend eight years in jail because he opposes the war in Iraq. It is a story that is being told now on a nationwide tour being undertaken by his father and step mother.
 
    Lieutenant Watada was raised to be a leader. His parents are well-known public servants in Hawaii, and Ehren as a teenager was an exemplary Eagle Scout at age 15. His family and friends in Honolulu were not surprised when Ehren, a college graduate in the post 9/11 era, decided to pursue a military career. His father said: “He joined the army because he is a patriot.”
 
    The lieutenant took an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies – foreign and domestic.
 
    Lt. Watada served a year in Korea, and his next deployment was to be to Iraq. Back at Fort Lewis in Washington, in preparation for his next deployment, he was told to educate himself about the war in Iraq, so he could explain to soldiers why they were being asked to go to war, and possibly give their lives for their country.
 
    Characteristically, he took seriously the order to learn, and read all he could about events that led to the war, among other things, and about the “weapons of mass destruction” that were supposed to be in Iraq. He learned a lot, and twice made formal attempts to leave his commission. He was refused, and then became the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse deployment to the Iraq War and occupation.
 
    Lt. Watada stated: “I refuse to be silent any longer. I refuse to be party to an illegal and immoral war against people who did nothing to deserve our aggression. Help oppose this war and end it so that all soldiers can come home.”
 
    In response, Lt. Watada, who is still serving at Fort Lewis, Washington, has been charged by the Army with:
1 count of “Missing Movement”;
2 counts of “Contempt toward Officials”;
3 counts of “Conduct Unbecoming an Officer and a Gentleman”;
and an additional count of “Conduct Unbecoming” because of a statement he made at the annual Veterans for Peace conference in Seattle in August, 2006.
 
    His father Bob and step mother Rosa were in Austin October 29 to tell his story. They were greeted at two venues by some 200 supporters who opened their hearts to listen, and their wallets to support the speaking tour of 25 cities in 25 days. The Watadas are being accompanied on the speaking tour by veteran Doug Zachary, and the Austin visit was sponsored by the Austin chapter of Veterans for Peace, Iraq Veterans against the War, and CodePink Austin.
 
    Lt. Watada’s web site has pictures of himself with his father, his stepmother, and his mother.  It also includes a message from his mother Carolyn, who writes: “Dear Sisters in Spirit, Metaphorically and literally, women are vessels within which transformation gestates and expresses in the world.” She goes on to write about the convictions of her son Ehren, and closes with: “As women, you are in a unique position to effect change. Let your voices resonate.”
 
    See these two sites for more information about Lt. Watada, his convictions, and the charges against him:
http://www.ltwatada.org/index.html
http://www.thankyoult.org/

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