By caritasboy@yahoo.com

I would like to submit a copy of the speech that I deliverd at the teach in on April 2nd 2003 to see if you would be interested in printing it as a my turn.Here is a copy of the speech.

I would like to address this gathering as a student and as a person with many reasons to be here today. I would like to inform you that I want to share 3 reasons that I have agreed to be a part of this Colonels for Peace Teach In about the Iraq War.
The First one is a personal one, born out of 14 years service as a firefighter and paramedic for the city of Winchester KY…. I do not know how many of you have ever held a dying child in your arms and witnessed the departing of this world of someone who has never had the chance to go to prom…, or to have a first date…, or have someone tell them that they are someone special…, but I have had this experience more times than I can remember. These children who have died in my presence have not left my memories and I doubt that they ever will. I can still see their faces and recreate the experience in my mind today. I relate this to the fact that 50% of Iraqi’s are under the age of 18 and I can’t imagine that anyone that has ever experienced the preventable death of any single child up close and personal could not do whatever they could to prevent another. The fact that we, as a nation, might be responsible for the death of one innocent child is more than I can personally bear. It “shocks and awes” me that there are some who might find this feeling unpatriotic.
The second reason, tied to the first,…is that I am a Christian and I feel that is morally reprehensible to support the use of force as an aggressor nation. I cannot find any support within my admittedly limited and imperfect knowledge of the teachings of Jesus that allows for the harming of innocent women and children in the name of God. I am comforted in the knowledge that as a Christian I am not alone in my feelings. There are many religious leaders who have publicly protested the need for war in Iraq. They are a very diverse and varied in their theological views and even in their positions on many basic belief systems yet they have found a common ground in their opposition to the war in Iraq.
I am a youth minister in the Episcopal Diocese
of Lexington and with 2 former members of my youth group in the military and several others approaching graduation this spring, I cannot tell you how many prayers I have said and the amount of worries for them that have been visited upon me as I watch the events of this war unfold before me.
I would like to share with you something which I found on the internet. It is a statement from the General Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church and it reflects the reasons for my religious objections to the war in Iraq. It was posted on March 25th 2003, so some of the events that are described may be old news, or the situation may have changed, but the underlying message is still sound.
“War crucifies God’s children! War creates endless seasons of weeping, mourning, and bitterness in which people feel forsaken. The vast majority of the world’s people oppose this war that crucifies our neighbors in Iraq.
War crucifies civilians who are invariably in harm’s way. Today more than a million Iraqis in the city of Basra are surrounded by military forces. Much of the city has lost electrical power and water. Five million Iraqis living in Baghdad are bombed daily and may soon be surrounded as well. The destruction of water treatment plants in 1991 led to hundreds of thousands of preventable deaths of Iraqi children in the years following war. How many preventable, unnecessary deaths will this unnecessary war impose?
War crucifies soldiers who are killed and ordered to kill. Soldiers on all sides have been killed, wounded and taken prisoner. Almost all the casualties thus far have been inflicted by US weapons. Families anxiously await word from their loved ones. Even soldiers who survive combat live for years with the scars of war.
War crucifies truth as political leaders and media seek to stir up popular support for their side.
War crucifies the poor and future generations. Each dollar devoted to paying for war will strip money from education, healthcare and other social programs. As war debts mount, nations will borrow ever more resources from our children, and our children’s children, to fund today’s destruction.
War crucifies again and again the prince of peace who calls us to love our enemies. Each bullet, bomb, and missile fired, like another nail, impales once more the hands and feet of our wounded savior. When will Christians cry out; ‘Enough!’ War is not the way to settle differences.
Jesus embodies God’s compassion – God’s suffering with us, not God’s vengeance. Jesus calls us to suffer with others – especially enemies, not to visit untold suffering upon others!”
The third, and maybe the most controversial, reason for me to address this gathering is that I am a Chief Petty Officer in the inactive naval reserves and subject to recall to active duty.
Let me get one point straight. If I am called to serve my country I will do so. I will do so out of a sense of duty and as a matter of honor. I have made a commitment and I feel honor bound to do what I have promised to do. I can and will keep my personal thoughts about what I feel about the commander in chief of this nation’s military and the policies of our government to myself, and I will fulfill my obligations to serve and defend this country to the best of my ability.
I fully support the efforts of our troops in the conflict and my prayers for their safe and rapid return are being said by me every day.
This is a point that may be lost on many but I have to say this to those who equate a support for peace as a voice of non-support for the men and women in the military; One of the main reasons that I served for 6 years as an active duty sailor, drilled with the ready reserve for 12 years, and have spent the last 4 years as an inactive reservist subject to recall to active duty, is that I might serve to allow people like you here today, to be able to disagree with our government freely and publicly.
This is why we are the greatest nation on the face of the planet, not because of our ability to beat up other people, not because we consume more than any one else, not because we have more toys than anyone else. It is because of our civil rights guaranteed by our constitution that we are great. That is what makes us great!
We do not yet have a government that controls and regulates what we say in public and that is why I praise you for coming to this event. I urge you to think about what you have learned here today and use this information in open and honest dialogue with other people. Do not allow the pseudo-patriots who try to convince you that if you speak out about the war you are condemning the troops. The troops are there doing what they have committed to do, in order to enable you to speak your mind in a free and open society.
I urge all of you here today to continue to promote peace over war, to promote love over hate, and most importantly, promote the constitutional rights of all Americans over the totalitarian silence demanded by “popular” opinion.
Thank you.

Billy Bennett