Thursday, November 1, 2007

Celeste Zappala's speech 10.27.2007 in Philadelphia

Thank you for being here; you are a beautiful sight.

I am Celeste Zappala, also, from the First united Methodist church of Germantown – and many of our members are here today, I would like to thank them for successfully praying for the rain to stop today!

I am here for Military Families Speak Out, a national group of nearly 4000 families with loved ones who have served in Iraq and who oppose this war, today I am here with my family, Sherwood’s father, step mother and brothers, and Kay is here from Harrisburg and her daughter is going back to Iraq soon. Today we have families of soldiers, veterans of Vietnam and our young and brave veterans of Iraq- standing together.

We are part of this human chain linked in spirit to end this war now - bring our troops home now, and take care of them when they get here, and never again go to a war based on lies.

The group I would wish no one else to join is Gold Star Families Speak Out, we are the people who have lost our dear ones to this hideous war, this colossal mistake, this betrayal of all that we hold sacred in our democracy.

My family and I stand here with you, and we cry out for my son, Sgt Sherwood Baker who was only 30 years old when he was killed in April 2004 while guarding the people who were looking for the weapons of mass destruction, the weapons that were not there.

We are Sherwood’s family and we cry everyday for him, we miss Sherwood, who grew up here in Philadelphia, he even played his trumpet in front of the Liberty Bell when he marched in his high school band. He became a father and husband, social worker and disc jokey, the man who was a gentle giant and a loyal member of the PA national guard. The tears we cry for him are joined to those 3838 other American families who one day answered their door and heard the worst news of their lives. Just this morning we learned of the death of Adam Chitijan of Somerton Philadelphia, one more. We have lost some of the best Americans- we have lost a great piece of the future of this country.

Michael Berg has said that the tears of Iraq could make an ocean, and that ocean of grief pours forth from all of us- the families of the fallen soldiers, from the 30,000 wounded and all who love them, from the families of the children killed by helicopters last week in Iraq, from the sisters of Iraqi soldiers, from the mothers who hold their bloody babies in their arms and cry out to God to end the killing.

I struggle with my anger, and I am incredulous when congressional hearings reveal that the State department has just learned that Blackwater is a problem and that they kill the innocent or that the Malki government is corrupt and inefficient, and that this should be kept a secret- what universe are these people living in, how is it everyone of us has known these things for years and our state department and congress don’t? How are these things revelations and state secrets?

I struggle with my pain when I think of day after day of families here planning funerals. When our government happily says that our casualties are so much less than a few months ago - do they think that comforts the families of the 33 people who have died this month? Does it stop the terror in the heart of army wives afraid to hear the phone ring?

In August88 soldiers were lost - and 13 of the soldiers were between the ages of 18 and 20. That means they were 14 to 16 when this disastrous war started - I ask you. Think about the young teenagers in your life and tell me you want to see them dying in the desert roads of Iraq in the endless war years yet to come.

I struggle with rage at this government that ignores the demands of our of our people here and the wails of Iraq - I find myself furious at an administration that continues to ignore facts, realities and worse, the agonies suffered by children of this war, those who lose their parents here, those who lose their homes and limbs in Iraq.

But I know our anger must be righteous, it must come from our humanity and not from our frustration - it must compel us to action, let our rage not be blind but rather a burning force that makes us get up everyday ready to do the work necessary to bend the will of our country and our government to end this war. Let our voices be wind that finally slams in to Washington and finally stands the politicians up straight enough to stop funding this war- it takes courage for them to defy the profiteers games of words and weapons, let us lend them that courage.

For we can not call ourselves defenders of democracy when our warriors come home broken and we watch them ignored and belittled.

We can not call ourselves a just nation when 12 billion is too much for year of children’s health care, but 42 billion is just one more drop in a bucket of blood for the war in Iraq.

When congress watches billions of dollars go unaccounted for in Iraq- when the maker of body armor is finally indicted for fraud- where is the outrage of this president about the corruption of Dynacore and the crimes of Blackwater- surely a childs health care can not be a crime compared to the out and out robbery of the war industry- make no mistake this war is very good business for far too many companies.

We can not call ourselves citizens if we as a nation continue to go about our daily business oblivious- as we – step over homeless people, turn our eyes from poor children,and watch the treasure of our country flow to war.

Dwight Eisenhower was a wise man who said a long time ago, every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.

Never was this more true, true here in our country and doubly true in Iraq- never were our voices more needed, never was our courage more required.

I ask you to reach deep into your heart, for all the love you have for your family - your children’s future, for your country - for the future of this World itself - and make a sacred pledge in the loving name of all of the fallen - we will stop this war. We must stop this war.

God bless you and thank you for all you do.

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