Susan Jones / CNSNews.com – 2005-03-17 23:38:16
(March 17, 2005) — To mark the second anniversary of the U.S.-led war in Iraq on March 19, various anti-war groups are planning to protest in Fayetteville, N.C., the home of Fort Bragg. It’s not the protest, but the location that has some people upset.
An organization representing veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan said demonstrators are “wrong and insensitive” to take their complaints to Fort Bragg, because it blames the warriors for the war.
“The decision makers are not at Fort Bragg, they are in Washington. Rallying against the war by marching at Fort Bragg is like protesting the cows if you don’t like McDonalds,” said Paul Rieckhoff, executive director of Operation Truth.
Saturday’s protest at Fort Bragg is being organized by September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, which says Fayetteville is home to a growing base of anti-war activists and organizations, including some military families who “stand firm in the knowledge that organizing in Fayetteville is a key to bringing the troops home from Iraq.”
Other groups taking part in Saturday’s protest include Military Families Speak Out, Bring Them Home Now, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Veterans For Peace, Quaker House, Fayetteville Peace with Justice, the North Carolina Peace and Justice Coalition, and the North Carolina Council of Churches.
“The anti-war protesters say they support the troops. They can say it until they are blue in the face, but that’s a hollow sentiment when they’re protesting the busloads of troops coming and going from Bragg to Iraq every day,” Operation Truth’s Rieckhoff said.
“If you support the troops, don’t protest them in their backyards — especially not as they’re sent to war or returning home.”
Rieckhoff said the protests will also upset military families living in and around the base at a time when they’re already worried about sending their loved ones overseas.
“This is the height of insensitivity by the anti-war organizations,” he said.
“If we are to make real progress in supporting and protecting our troops we should hold our elected officials’ feet to the fire for the decisions they make. But protesting the troops will accomplish nothing,” he said.
Operation Truth says it is not against the war, but it has complained about U.S. military preparedness and the treatment of veterans once they arrive home. The group was founded in June 2004, after Paul Rieckhoff, a First Lieutenant in the Army Reserves, returned from a year-long tour in Iraq.
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