By Katie Weitkamp/The Studio editor
When Billy Bennett worked for the Winchester Fire Department and Paramedics he saw the last moments of young children’s lives, something he never wants to see again. He cites those memories as one of his reasons for not supporting the War on Iraq; another being 50 percent of the people in Iraq are under the age of 18.
Bennett is now a senior middle grade education major often seen around campus wearing a United States Navy hat and tye-dye shirt and backpack. He joined the Navy straight out of high school to help pay for his college education. He served six years active duty and 12 years in drilling reserves. He recently asked to retire in May after four years of being inactive, but the future is uncertain.
“I’d rather not go,” Bennett said. “More than likely (I won’t return to active duty), but I’m sure that’s what they said because they’re doing individual recalls now.”
Bennett is not only in the Navy, but also the club on campus, Colonels for Peace. The group asked Bennett to speak at a teach-in last Wednesday. During his speech, Bennett cited three specific reasons he does not believe in the war.
The first reason is his past with the Winchester paramedics.
“I had to deal with children being injured and killed and dying right there in front of me. I cannot see being the aggressor that is causing innocent children to be killed because I felt there are other alternatives,” Bennett said.
Another is his personal belief system. A youth minister in the Episcopal Diocese in Lexington; he said he can’t see the point in fighting a war that will kill several innocent children and women.
“As a Christian, I can’t see any justification for using war to bring about peace,” Bennett said. “It just doesn’t make any sense.”
As a youth minister, Bennett said he has had to say goodbye to people who have been in his youth groups in the past. He said he prays for them and our troops everyday.
Bennett wishes the government would have used containment instead of bombs to prevent war.
“What we did with the Soviet Union for 50 years — it turned out now that there is no more Soviet Union,” Bennett said. “It’s also what we’re doing with North Korea now, except we’re offering them some cash to be good.”
To help support the troops, but not the cause, Bennett has sent several e-mails to soldiers he knows as well as encouragement to soldiers he doesn’t know. Also, along with the Colonels for Peace, Bennett is working to get phone cards to send to troops overseas so they can call their families.
“I’m not against the troops; well, I could be one of the troops,” Bennett said. “I don’t think anyone is anti-troops. They’re just following their orders and I can understand that; it’s a commitment that I made too.”
Bennett’s biggest goal right now is to help educate the campus and community about what the war really is about.
“Truthful information is hard to get,” Bennett said. “You can’t rely on the media because they’ll say one thing one minute and then go back and say something else.”
By signing petitions and helping the Colonels for Peace, Bennett hopes to spread his word about the war through participating in more demonstrations, teach-ins and debates.
Even though Bennett does not believe in the war’s cause, he said he is willing to go if called to active duty because it was a commitment he made. He hopes to continue education on campus and in the community with his messages.