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‘Pull the plug on Iraq’ - Officials urged to stop funding war

The holiday lights glimmering at Grand Army Plaza on Tuesday night cast anti-war activists protesting the 3,000th U.S. soldier killed fighting in Iraq in a sad, incongruous glow. Retired CPA and World War II veteran Milton Zisman held a sign up to the passing traffic bearing the name of Cpl. Bernard Gooden of Mt. Vernon, New York. “That’s all I know about him, except that he’s dead at 22,” the Park Slope resident said. Others held similar signs; each bearing the name of a soldier lost fighting in the shattered Mideast nation of Iraq. “I think that in my long lifetime, it’s the most terrible time I can think of,” Zisman said. Brooklyn Parents for Peace – outspoken critics of the war since the invasion began in 2003, organized the vigil in conjunction with a nationwide effort to convince the new Democratic Congress to stop funding the ongoing conflict and start bringing U.S. men and women home. “The death of the 3,000th soldier in Iraq, as the New Year begins, highlights the need for our Senators and Congressional representatives to insist on a rapid exit plan from Iraq – and to refuse further funding unless this is done,” said Carolyn Eisenberg, vice-chair of Brooklyn Parents for Peace. Similar demonstrations – part of the “Not One More Death, Not One More Dollar” campaign are taking place in over 200 communities nation wide and will culminate in a January 27 march on Washington, D.C. Buses will be departing from Grand Army Plaza on the morning of the event to carry local residents to the demonstration. “The results of November’s election provide the best opportunity yet to bring our troops home and end the American presence in Iraq,” said Charlotte Phillips, BPFP’s chair. “But even with Democrats in control of Congress, this will not happen unless we exert effective, concerted pressure on our legislators. It is now our job to make sure Congress pays attention and acts.” Richard Chilton, a visiting writer and researcher from Rosalie, Nebraska blasted the Bush administration for forcing reservists to serve repeated tours in Iraq and said the country should spend the next six months pulling American troops out of Iraq. “How dare they ignore the vote of the American people,” he said. “The American constituency is crying out for change.” In addition to the mounting death toll in Iraq, over 20,000 U.S. service personnel have also been injured in the fighting. More American lives have now been lost fighting in Iraq than in the first four years of the Vietnam War. Windsor Terrace resident Steve Poppict said that it is impossible for American military forces in Iraq to improve the daily chaos now taking place in Iraq. “We could have foreseen this even before we went in,” he said. “There was no way that a military force can make a democracy in another country.” Zisman said that there is no comparison between the war he fought 60 years ago against the Japanese in the Pacific, and the war U.S. troops are now fighting in the Mid-East. “That was war,” he said. We landed on an island where the Japanese were well entrenched. It wasn’t like now when you’re there for presumed humanity reasons helping people – most of who don’t want us there.” Back in World War II Zisman said he felt threatened by fascism. “But now it’s very hard to define what this war is about,” he said. “It seems to me it’s about oil and the resources of the world.” For more information about the January 27 bus rides to Washington, D.C. contact Brooklyn Parents for Peace at 718-624-5921.

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