Click on link to watch video! Why Billy Why!
I am a republican. I am not anti-war, I am against the war in Iraq.
I wrote why billy why last year when my son-in-law was deployed to Iraq. He, thankfully, came home safely, many others have not. This song is intended to be an honest look at a mother's loss. I wanted to put a face on this tragedy of war and make everyone feel for an instant, a fraction of the pain a mother feels when her son is killed in the war.
It is not unpatriotic to oppose war...it is unpatriotic to sit idly by and do nothing.
Our soldier, Patrick Kelly, NJ, is another outstanding individual moving the marker. He just out doing his job, putting his heart on the line and making a huge contribution. He makes me proud to be an American and do the work I do getting this important message out.
Please read his letter before you vote this November.
A Truly Powerful Video
Patrick Kelly, NJ
I was reviewing books online and somehow came across a link to this incredible video. I was at first angered by Bush's words, but that anger quickly turned to sadness.In 2004, I was stationed at Camp Wolverine in Kuwait. Among other things, my job was to remove body bags off C-130H aircraft and Blackhawk helicopters that were straight from battle scenes. We placed the bags (sometimes 200lbs, sometimes less than 2lbs) in the refrigerated mortuary trucks where they were taken to the mortuary tent for icing and paperwork processing. At the next aircraft heading back to the U.S., we’d perform the reverse. The bodies, still inside their original bag, were now inside aluminum transfer cases. We would help drape U.S. flags over them, load them aboard the aircraft (exactly like the ones you saw in Mark’s video), and all the while, perform a solemn honors ceremony at attention and with a very slow return salute downward. I can hardly recall a time that I didn’t walk away from an aircraft and cry. As the NCOIC, I was often the leader of the detail, but I didn’t want my troops to see me in this state of grief. I was often comforted by the darkness of night which served as a shield for my distorted face and tears so as not to be detected by my crew. I was 40 years old then and had the maturity to understand that the deaths of these men and women would soon, upon their not yet notified families, shatter their lives and the lives of everyone else who knew them. I don’t believe my troops, some as young as 18, could possibly fathom the depths of what they were undertaking.More difficult than that was aiding in the transfer of wounded troops on stretchers (called litters) from small aircraft/helicopters onto C-141B medical evacuation configured aircraft (Medi-vacs). Running down the center of these aircraft, from floor to ceiling were stanchions of litter racks. It was on these racks that we, along with medical staff, would secure our brave men and women by their stretcher sometimes four high and with four rows. I saw everything from mangled and splintered feet and hands, purple bloody faces (from blast burns), eyelids, cheeks, and mouths swollen beyond recognition (from the spraying of red-hot shrapnel), and freshly wrapped, blood soaked stumps where hands, arms, feet, legs, or all four use to be just hours before, functioning as strong, useful, and familiar appendages. But what haunts me most, is not so much their wounds or the fact that their lives were violently changed forever, destined to a life of confinement to mechanical wheelchairs, artificial limbs, and guide dogs. No. It was their eyes. Their eyes followed me as I would approach them from down the aircraft aisle-way. With brows raised in an arch and foreheads wrinkled, they strained to see me with painful, glaring, frightened eyes as I moved toward them and then away. It’s impossible to put these images into appropriate words. What was going on in their minds – those, that is, who were conscious? I always managed to give each hero a pat on the shoulder, the leg, or any place I could touch, and followed with words of encouragement, praise, or gratitude. I always smiled at them, as hard as it was, and then I always felt that terribly familiar surge of emotions as the doors to the aircraft closed for flight preparation. I am a Democrat and I am a proud American, more proud today then ever during my twenty plus years of service to my county. But I am not proud to have served my country in the War Against Iraq because I do not feel that we should have been in Iraq. In other words, there was no need to be in Iraq in order to necessitate one’s service to our country in the first place. Perhaps it is because of Cheney’s remarks as to why we are in Iraq that serves my anger and disgust so well. He said we are there “in order to protect our national interest in that region’s oil. Without it, our country would be in economic ruin.” Alas, the crux of the problem!I am, however, extremely proud to have served my fellow military members in the War Against Iraq because I feel that I made a difference. In some small way, I made someone feel comfort by doing little deeds for them such as giving a bunch of guys a lift to the PX in my truck, showing them my appreciation for their service with kind words of thanks and praise, and by talking to them one-on-one about home and family. The largest contribution I made was one that I performed often for my fellow brothers and sisters was to dash out to an aircraft with its engines screaming during its pre-flight check, and on behalf of late arriving troops with a pass for R&R, to plead with aircrew to take a few more troops with only 10 days to hitch a ride home and hurry back. Despite there being few available seats left without gear piled up on them, or the aircraft nearing its maximum take-off weight, I was, more often than not, able to persuade them to agree to 2, 3, 5, or more. Sometimes I would make up stories to reluctant crewmen saying that I have three brand-new fathers who desperately want to meet their babies for the first time…anything in order to find a connection with them. I rarely failed, and not because of my rank, but because I simply put those crewmembers back in touch with their human side. The hopeless faces of those “stuck” passenger anticipating my return would quickly turned to excitement, screams, and the snapping of their body posture as I would holler over the noise, “grab your gear and follow me, you’re going home!” The look on their faces and the gratitude they expressed to me, whether explicit or implicit, made my deployment worth while. And for me, that was my reward for being there. Those small deeds like that are what I take with me as having served my country during this war.My stance against this war does not make me unpatriotic. I am not anti-war, although I now see myself more a peacenik than I ever imagined possible. With the War Against Iraq constantly on my mind, with its tens of thousands of current and future U.S. troops who are and will serve in that region, let’s clean it up, make it right, keep it limited, and then withdraw all U. S. troops for good, and for the good of all.
moving the marker
Help share this important video at home and abroad by sending your contributions to:
P.O. Box 703
Trinidad, CA 95570
Ralph Conant is author of more than fifteen books and monographs on a wide variety of topics, mostly in social policy, metropolitan governance, and regional planning. He holds PhD and MA degrees from the University of Chicago, where he studied public administration with Leonard D. White, urban politics with Edward C. Banfield, and political philosophy with Leo Strauss.
His most recent publications are: Toward a More Perfect Union: The Governance of Metropolitan America, with Daniel J. Myers, 1st edition, 2002; 2nd edition, 2006 and forthcoming City of Destiny: Denver in the Making, with Maxine Kurtz, to be published by Chandler & Sharp in 2007.
His other books include: The Public Library and the City, MIT, 1965; The Politics of Community Health, Public Affairs Press, 1968; Problems in Research in Community Violence, with Molly Apple Levin, Praeger,1969; The Prospects for Revolution, Harper & Row, 1971; The Metropolitan Library, MIT, 1972; The Conant Report: A Study of the Education of Librarians, MIT, 1980; Private Means Public Ends: Private Business in Social Service Delivery, with Barry J. Carroll and Thomas Easton, Praeger, 1987; Public School Finance: Toward a More Level Playing Field for Our Youth, Phelps-Stokes Fund, 1993.
He served as faculty, Michigan State University (1956-1957). Staff, National Municipal (Civic) League (1957-1959). Executive Director, Citizens for Michigan (1959-1960). Faculty, University of Denver (1960-1961). Assistant Director, Joint Center for Urban Studies, MIT-Harvard (1961-1967). Associate Director, Lemberg Center for the Study of Violence, Brandeis University (1967-1969). President, Southwest Center for Urban Research, Houston (1969-1975). President, Shimer College (1975-1978). President, Unity College in Maine (1978-1980). He lives in Trinidad, California and has a farm in Maine dating to the family settlement in 1771.