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Washington Calls to Stand Up for the Troops

Fri October 12th, 2007



SEATTLE / BELLEVUE – Grassroots organizations in the greater Seattle area have banded together to express a bold display of support for the troops and their mission.  A dozen area groups are bringing their hometown message to greater Seattle. The rally will feature music groups and a speaker line-up that includes US Congr. Dave Reichert, Lt. Col. (Ret) Steve Russell, who was a major player in the hunt and capture of Saddam Hussein, and area veterans and parents of veterans who feel it is time to stand up for the troops.

"The objective of this rally is to stress that the United States must secure victory and finish the job in Iraq," declared Mark Sussman, an area resident who has worked in the military aircraft industry.  It was Sussman who organized the rally. "We wish, with this Rally, to honor our heroes and express their positions to political leaders and to those media who now advocate a dangerous retreat."

US Congr. Dave Reichert

So far, Mr. Sussman has received plenty of support. Area bands, KVI radio host John Carlson, and a line-up of impressive speakers promise to make the event a special display of support for the troops.  Among the speakers is Congr. Dave Reichert from Washington's 8th District. 

“We are currently at war." said Reichert two weeks ago when speaking to fellow House members. "Young men and women are risking their lives everyday and some are paying the ultimate sacrifice because we have asked them to do so. We should support them, we should give them what they need to succeed, and we should show them respect." 

Several area veterans and parents of soldiers serving will also be speaking.

The event kicks off at 11:00 am Saturday, October 20th atthe Sammamish High School of Belleveue, 100 140th Ave. SE. The event will last about two hours with entertainment and speeches and will be followed by a partiotic walk through the city.  The event is open to the public.

"I was honored to be asked to come to the event" said Lt. Col. Russell, who has traveled to more than 30 cities this year as a speaker.  "Many Americans across the country think that people in Seattle do not care about our troops. Nothing could be further from the truth when you consider the major military bases here and the deep commitment of its people.  This event will be a chance to show the country the other side of the story"


Location of the Citizens United for Victory Rally - October 20th, 2007

The Citizens United for Victory Rally is located in Bellevue near the Glendale Country Club.  Event will kick off at 11:00 am, is open to the public and is free of charge.



Citizens Say 'Support Troops and Mission'

Mon October 22nd, 2007


Rally organizer Mark Sussman addresses crowd

BELLEVUE A crowd of about 250 people gathered Saturday in the cool, damp morning at the Sammamish High School auditorium to hear a

powerful pitch as to why the nation needs to back the troops and their mission in an area not known to support the current Iraq war.  "It's a worthy objective both to honor our troops who defend us and to help awaken the nation at large that there is a serious threat," said rally organizer and Bellevue resident Mark Sussman, "and it needs serious deliberation and action on our part."

Congr. Reichert speaks out for troops

Those attending were taken by the engaging speeches of veterans that had served in Iraq as well as by those of Congressman Dave Reichert and citizen support group leaders.  "I think it was a great event and though I personally support the troops and their mission I am now questioning whether it is possible to support the troops without supporting the mission," asked Johnna Funk, an area resident and realtor who spoke for a group of Marine mothers known as 'Oorahmoms.'  "I believe that if I am questioning my thinking I am sure others with different opinions must be questioning theirs."   The Seattle area public will likely hear more from these active and concerned moms, dads, veterans and citizens who are challenging the negative views on the war.

Johnna Funk, center, with 'Oorahmoms'


In powerful moments in the program, Gold Star parents who lost their sons and Iraq veterans who lost friends conveyed thier deep burden to speak out on behalf of these fallen heroes.  "When we lose a true hero we will grieve for a season," reflected area Iraq veteran Frank Selden.  "We may feel angry, sad, depressed, frustrated. It is often said that time heals all wounds. I disagree. Time simply passes. It is what we do with our time that heals. Would our heroes want us to remain lost in our despondency or shackled by public opinion polls?"

Former POW Joe Crecca

Joe Crecca, a former fighter pilot and POW in North Vietnam for over 6 years, was more blunt when it comes to backing the troops and their mission.  "Many who favor our unconditional withdrawal from Iraq say that although they do not support our military presence in Iraq they do support the troops. I have news for them," said Crecca. "If you support our troops you must, by definition, support their mission.  Anything else is pure rubbish!

Steve Russell, the chairman of Vets for Victory who commanded a unit central in the hunt and capture of Saddam Hussein agreed.  "Politicians and opponents of this war state that their actions to cut our troops, pull funding and portray the war as a hopeless endeavor are not meant for us but are intended to be a strong message to the president.  That is like someone coming up to you at work, slugging you in the gut and saying, “ Oh, that was not meant for you.  I like you.  That was meant for your boss.”

Supporters at the rally also heard from these speakers: District 2 Congressional candiadate Doug Roulstone, a Gulf War vet and former captain of the USS John C. Stennis; Joel Arens, an Iraq vet from the group Vets for Freedom; Mark Wriggle, an Iraq veteran Marine of 26 years service; and Dedi Moore, a mother whose only son was killed in battle in Iraq while serving in the US Army.  Between the speeches, entertainers Anne-Marie Lake, Chuck 'Sarge' Lawrence, and Garrett Lloyd King provided patriotic and original musical performances.  The event was emceed by popular talk radio host John Carlson.

"We were very encouraged by the event, the quality of the participants and the turn out," said Sussman.  "It has really helped to boost the interest and morale here to support our troops."


Remarks of Congressman Dave Reichert at Seattle Rally

Sat October 20th, 2007


Congr. Reichert speaks out for troops

Let’s just think about where we are as a country, about the global war we are in with people intent on killing Americans and how that affects our strategy in Iraq. When considering this, we must consider our nation’s history and other difficult times of war.

There have been bleak moments in America’s history, battles we were engaged in where American victory was far from certain.

In 1942, hell-bent on dominating the world with his ideology, Adolph Hitler and the Third Reich were systematically marching through Europe and taking the most basic freedoms from the Jewish people and killing millions. The U.S. entered World War II reluctantly. We were not ready for the hurdles we faced.

Don’t forget, there were times when victory was far from certain and the outlook was grim. Many Americans and Europeans alive today can remember how bleak those times were as the war drug on. But we didn’t give up. We persevered because we knew there was too much at stake.

80 years before World War II, in 1862, President Lincoln faced a war that most believed could not be won. He faced vocal and unrelenting criticism for his resolve to win the Civil War.

When the war began, Lincoln called for 74,000 volunteers for 90 days. History shows Lincoln grossly underestimated, as approximately 620,000 soldiers died during the Civil War.

At a time in our history when it might have been politically expedient to end the Civil War without first achieving victory, President Lincoln pressed on, constantly seeking a new strategy until he found one that worked because so much was at stake.

Perhaps some of the resolve Lincoln displayed came from lessons he learned 15 years earlier, when he endured a smaller battle.

In 1848, Abraham Lincoln was an often-criticized young freshman Member of this body, the House of Representatives, and was facing a difficult point in his career. Lincoln criticized the reasons President Polk gave for getting us into the Mexican-American War. A war that began before Lincoln came to office - a position I can identify with as I stand here today.

Then-Congressman Lincoln voted for a resolution that stated the Mexican-American War was “unnecessarily and unconstitutionally” initiated by President Polk. Lincoln thought the war was nothing more than a political move to grab land from the Mexican people. My friends, it is legitimate and in fact our duty to question the reasons why our country goes to war and Abraham Lincoln showed us that.

However, he also showed us something else. Abraham Lincoln made an incredibly important distinction that we can learn from today.

A Lincoln biographer, Doris Kearns Goodwin, writes that after being criticized for that vote, “Lincoln sought to clarify his position, arguing that although he had challenged the instigation of the war, he had never voted against supplies for the soldiers.” Lincoln knew the damage of condemning a war effort while claiming to support our troops. Yet that is what the resolution before us today does.

During the American Revolution, the men and women who would become this country’s first citizens were declared by the King of England to be in rebellion. The King sent soldiers across the Atlantic to quell the uprising.

In every war, it is the average citizen who stands up and fights for his neighbor’s freedom. It is the same today. In response to the King of England’s attack, again it was the average citizen who stood up and fought. A bookstore owner, the manager of an iron foundry and a land surveyor all stood and fought for their neighbors’ freedom. Those men were Henry Knox, Nathanial Green and George Washington.

During America’s War for Independence, it was not clear if we would prevail. We lost battle after battle. Troops deserted the battle fields. General Washington and his deputies persevered, continuing to engage the enemy until the tide turned – because so much was at stake.

We are the United States of America today, and we are free, because General Washington refused to quit until we achieved victory.

We are the United States of America today, and we are free, because Abraham Lincoln refused to quit until we achieved victory.

We are the United States of America today, and we are free, because Roosevelt and Truman refused to quit until we achieved victory.

And we are the Unites States of America today, and we are free, because of the sacrifice of the men and women in uniform who put their lives on the line in Iraq, Afghanistan, and all over the world preserving our freedom.  (Applause)

Today, the United States is engaged in another war. Just as before, we face an enemy that wants to destroy our way of life. Just as before, we face an enemy that thinks it is winning. Just as before, our country is divided. Just as before, we are making mistakes. Just as before, we face a moment of truth about what to do next. And just as before, the consequences of losing are devastating.

The enemy is clear about what their intentions are. By what they say and what they do, al Qaeda and the global movement it has spawned have made it clear that they want nuclear and biological weapons. It is clear they want to kill millions of Americans. Osama bin Laden has called acquiring nuclear weapons a “religious duty.”

The fact is, we are engaged in a global war with people intent on killing Americans and regardless of how we got into Iraq, Iraq is now a central front of that war.

Like Lincoln, I was not in office when this war began. I understand the arguments and the questions. I’ve been asking questions too, as an elected official for two years and as a concerned citizen and veteran before that. I understand that there are many who think we should never have entered Iraq; we now know there was faulty intelligence that led to that decision.

But the war is upon us nonetheless. I am elected to deal with what is happening now. Will we succeed? Will we win? Just as in other moments in our history, those questions stand unanswered.

The consequences of declaring an end to the war in Iraq without victory would be felt for decades. Our enemies around the world would be emboldened. Iran and Al Qaeda would declare victory. Our allies in Iraq would certainly face bloodshed, and our allies around the world would question our resolve to protect them.

Is this new plan going to work? I don’t know. No one knows. What I do know is that we must find a way to achieve victory and simply saying no to a new plan without offering an alternative won’t work and sends a terrible message to our enemies and our soldiers.  (Applause)

This is an historic war. America is engaged in a war for our freedoms on a scale that we’ve never experienced before. I understand the dissension, the questions and the uncertainty. I understand that the cost is high and the way is often unclear. I served as a law enforcement officer and lost partners and colleagues who were close to me. I understand the cost of freedom and the sacrifices that must be made. The sacrifices are hard. But we must remain focused and not let those sacrifices be in vain. (Applause)

Lincoln warned us against tying a criticism of the war to support of the troops. Let’s send a message to our enemies and our troops alike: We will always support our young men and women who put their lives on the line for freedom. (Loud standing applause)


Remarks of Steve Russell at Seattle Rally

Sat October 20th, 2007


Congr. Dave Reichert and Vets for Victory founder Steve Russell

"It is great to be with you here today in Seattle. Thanks for the warm welcome.

I served my country for over 21 years, not because I was underprivileged, or was somehow less educated or because I was from Oklahoma and couldn't get a decent job  (Laughter).   I served because of love of country and for the American way of life...even when at times some Americans have been unkind in their convictions about that service.

Harry Truman once said, “The only thing new in the world is the history you don’t know.”  Here is an obscure quote that we would do well to remember

“Experience proves that the man who obstructs a war in which the nation is engaged, no matter whether right or wrong, occupies no enviable place in life or history.  Better for him, individually, to advocate “war, pestilence, and famine” that to act as an obstructionist to a war already begun.  The history of the defeated rebel will be more honorable hereafter, compared with that of the man who aided him by conspiring against his government while protected by it.  The most favorable posthumous history the stay-at-home traitor can hope for is – oblivion.”  U.S. Grant, Grant’s Memoirs 1885

Should we be in Iraq?  This is perhaps the most contentious question of our day.  Some have argued passionately that we were not justified in attacking Iraq.  Further, they contend that not only was the war a mistake, but that it resulted from carefully planned lies that hid secret motives.  When viewed from this filter, all policy and decisions to support this war are for naught, given the belief that it is useless to pursue an unjust cause to begin with.

Here are a half a dozen of the most popular claims:

The war was launched to find weapons of mass destruction, yet there was no evidence that Saddam possessed such weapons or that he had the capability to develop nuclear weapons.

We entered the war with no plan for an exit strategy and miscalculated at every turn.

The war’s costs are untenable.  We cannot afford to spend another dollar or another life in Iraq.

It is the wrong policy to be in Iraq

The surge is only escalating the conflict.

America has spoken.  It is time to pull out. 

Taking these claims head on, let us examine the first – that the war was started to destroy Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction and that none were found. This is not the case.  The war was authorized under the “Iraq Liberation Act,” which called for a regime change in Iraq.  It was passed by 90% of the US Congressmen, and with unanimous consent of the US Senate.  The act was signed into national policy in 1998 by President Clinton.  President Bush then continued this policy by making the case that Saddam left unchecked would become a clear and present danger to the United States, and to the world community at large, in ways greater than he had already.  Our nation has long recognized that the dictator of Iraq had defied the world, that he had attacked every bordering country save Syria, that he murdered 30,000 political opponents and 350,000 Shias and Kurds, that he led over a million of his countrymen to their death in ill-conceived and miscalculated wars, and that someday, he would have to give account.  It has been one of the greatest achievements in my life to hunt down Saddam, see him captured, then brought to trial and find himself at the end of a rope.  We should never ever be apologetic about taking a stand against evil. (Applause)

With regard to no weapons of mass destruction found, during my service in Iraq, US soldiers in Baghdad captured Saddam’s most prominent nuclear scientist, Dr. Ubaydi, and found a Zippe centrifuge, along with all the components and blueprints to produce more.  Saddam’s nuclear scientist stated that with the centrifuge technology, Iraq possessed all the technical skill to produce a nuclear bomb and were making efforts to do so.  The centrifuge captured was the same centrifuge technology that Iran is currently using to enrich uranium and to develop their nuclear weapons.  The story was completely buried by the press.  But the soldiers know what we found.

With regard to non-nuclear weapons of mass destruction, Iraqi General Georges Sada has testified that Saddam ordered the military to smuggle their most important weapons into Syria and he further states that this was accomplished.

Let’s take the next point then, that even if we were continuing a national policy to remove Saddam from power and even if we did find evidence of weapons of mass destruction, we still entered the war with no clue of how to win it or get out of Iraq.  This is not true.  As I recall, our mission when we first entered Iraq was to destroy the Iraqi Army, Kill or capture Saddam, eliminate the Baathist government and establish the new Iraqi government by means of an elected assembly that would appoint ministers and a president, who in turn would draft the new constitution.  Operating under this legal authority, the new Iraq would create its new military and police forces and secure their own nation.  Today, all but the raising of an adequate security force has been accomplished, and this despite the steady diet of defeatism and disillusionment offered by terrorists abroad and opponents of the war here at home.

But the opponents will say that this war has cost us too many billions and too many lives and is therefore untenable.  From 1961-1964 America spent 9% of the GDP on defense in a time of peace.  From 1974-1994, we spent 5.8%.  Today we spend only 3.8% in a time of war.  Last year alone, Americans gave 300 billion to charity.  That would have been enough to pay for the war for four years—from surplus giving.  Even though we are spending less on defense, Americans spent nearly twice as much on Pepsis and Fritos last year than on the Army National Guard Budget. What are Americans really sacrificing for victory that the cost is too high for them?  Can we not even give up a Pepsi or a bag of chips?   Walmart today has more than twice the number of employees than the US Army has soldiers.  Less than half of 1% of our nation even defend it.  So what sacrifice has the other 99 1/2% made to help those that are fighting to win?  We must be more than an Army at war and a nation at the mall.  And while the 3700 American losses so far in this war are tragic—I personally lost soldiers in battle and have had to bury good friends—we should take note from history about what Americans of the past have sacrificed for our freedom and for the freedom of others.  In WWII, 400 Americans a day died in battle.  In Korea it was 40 a day.  In Vietnam it was 20.  Today it is between 2 and 4.  More than double our entire war loss we lost in the first 48 hours on the Normandy beaches of France.  Six thousand Americans were lost in the first 5 days of Iwo Jima, where, undaunted from such loss, we still had the men of grit and determination to simply put a flag at the top of the tallest rock on that island.  That was the greatest generation.  What will ours be called?  The pathetic generation?  The quitting generation?

The notion that our national policy in Iraq is wrong, that Iraq was better off under Saddam and that this war makes us less secure as a nation is a dangerous one.  That would be to embrace the notion that evil is good and good is evil; that is was wrong to remove a dictator that killed hundreds of thousands of people and oppressed millions; that the prevention of the further slaughter of masses of human beings was evil; that Saddam’s use of poison gasses to slaughter innocents was somehow good; that his development of a nuclear program was somehow good; and that the blood shed by terrorists and Saddam’s henchmen is somehow on our hands.  That being the case, then it would be wrong to have a responsible Iraq in the world community of nations and to have the Arab and Kurdish citizens break free from decades of tyranny and advance along the lines of Kuwait, Jordan and Oman.  I am at a complete loss to understand this twisted version of ethical standards by which good and evil are reversed.

And suppose we correctly deduce that Iraq would be better off without tyranny than governed by it?  Are we still to suppose that an increase in troops and a change of tactics are not worth the effort?  But before we consider that, consider that saying the addition of 20,000 troops is a surge is like reducing the water pressure in your home by 20% and then a year later increase it 18% and call it a surge of water pressure.  The truth of the matter is that even with the additional troops, we have only restored the number of troops to the December 2005 force level, a level that probably needed raising even then.  And what of it?  If we are just where we were in December 2005, do we really think that it will make a difference?  Why don’t we ask the Iraqis that enjoy 60% less violence since February or the grave diggers that are out of work, or those that land on the 233 airline flights a day at the Baghdad International Airport, or the 4000 new Sunni police that have rejected Al Qaeda in Al Anbar province, or the 30,000 new Iraqi Armed forces since May?  Or how about we just ask a soldier that has been there.  For the soldier, these issues are not academic.  They are experiential.

Americans have spoken opponents say.  And large numbers of them want to quit.  Politicians and opponents of this war state that their actions to cut our troops, pull funding and portray the war as a hopeless endeavor are not meant for us but are intended to be a strong message to the president.  That is like someone coming up to you at work, slugging you in the gut and saying, “ Oh, that was not meant for you.  I like you.  That was meant for your boss.”  (Laughter)  If this is the kind of support that some Americans want to offer us, we reject it!  We despise it!  It rubs against the grain of everything inside us as soldiers and defenders of America. (Long, loud applause)

How is it that some Americans have come to believe that defeat is better for our nation than victory?  What kind of logic is it that would think failure provides security?  That the patriot is the real threat to our nation and the ‘Jihadist’ is advancing freedom?  How have Americans become a people that honor the celebrity, whose damaging opinions of America are given full press, while the soldier has now become the unfortunate sap for actually expecting Americans to stand behind him until the job is done?  How is it that defeat at the hands of jihadists has become good and standing against their terror has become evil?

Franklin Roosevelt warned us of the “nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”  The energy and expense of Americans who have promoted failure in this war would likely have delivered victory by now, if borne from a belief of sacrifice and service to our nation.  If thoroughly examined—with few exceptions—the majority of those opposing this war have done nothing to ease the burden of the soldier and they have most likely never served or sacrificed anything for our nation.  And even while the care packages sent to soldiers by opponents of this war are appreciated, we would much rather have America’s commitment than America’s cookies!  (Laughter & applause)  Dwight D. Eisenhower declared that, “in the final choice, a soldier’s pack is not so heavy as a prisoner’s chains.”  The soldier accepts that burden.  All he asks is to let him finish the job.

What shall we say?  What more can we give to our nation than the type of sacrifice we have already given?  What words can we the soldiers use to convince Americans at home that the biggest mistakes being made in this war are on the home front, not the battlefront. (Applause)  What will be the value of our temporary civilian comforts and the illusion of national safety when a giant shadow of Jihadist terrorism is casting itself onto our shores?  What will be the meaning of the rhetoric and the political debate when we sift through the rubble of a workplace, a shopping mall, or public transit—digging out American bodies targeted for no other reason than because of our way of life and who we are as a people?  It is a scene that every soldier who has witnessed it abroad will fight with all his might to keep away—but we never thought that our own people would betray our efforts.

We all want to come home to our families, but to safe homes and not until we win!  If we fail our nation, what is next?  Do we extend the same attitude of non-involvement to our community?  Our places of worship?  Our own children?  There are things still worth fighting for.  America was not built on the backs of the cynic and the critic.  Americans of the past knew how to sacrifice.  And they knew the difference between what was evil and what was good…who was a threat and who was harmless…whether to live free—or quit and die.

So where do we go from here?  What can Americans do at this critical hour?  America must sacrifice today along with her soldiers.  We must be more than an Army at war and a nation at peace.  Here are some things America can sacrifice on behalf of her soldiers.  Sacrifice doubt.  Sacrifice anxiety.  Sacrifice cynicism.  Sacrifice any notion that will cause us to come home as losers.  It will not be enough to remember our service and our losses in this war on slabs of white marble and national monuments of black stone.  That will not be enough.  It is only remembering.  But if we want to honor those who will not come home, who gave up their youth, their future, their ability to love, who will never raise a family, or live to an old age and to see their grandchildren, then we must honor what they fought for and honor it with victory. (Long, loud applause)

Americans today are so apprehensive.  We fret about so many things.  But the difference between what is good and what is evil has not changed—only our ability as a nation to identify it.  Keep the faith.  Don’t quit.  God bless you all. (Long, loud, standing applause)



Remarks of Frank Selden at Seattle Rally

Sat October 20th, 2007


In April, 2004, while working as night shift NCO in Mosul, Iraq, I watched a U.S. news program play interviews of several soldiers returning home. I paused from monitoring message traffic, listening for interesting stories. A young female soldier remarked, "We are all heroes" as she gestured to her fellow soldiers disembarking the plane. I disagreed then and I disagree today. We are NOT all heroes.

Heroes see the necessity of their actions while others remain frozen by fear, uncertainty or moral tepidity. Heroes stand in defiance of falsehood and evil, willing to bear the consequences of their resolve rather than succumb to tyranny or oppression. Heroes are frequently impatient, preferring to act quickly and decisively rather than wait for a committee resolution, a fact-finding mission or a congressional hearing to reveal no more than the hero already knows. Heroes often walk alone. Heroes tend to disdain austerity or ostentation. They act not for recognition and seldom tell their own tale.

The soldiers involved in denigrating their detainees clearly demonstrated that we are not all heroes. Other incidents of dishonorable service that made the news include soldiers disrespecting military leadership, soldiers getting out of dangerous missions by claiming the orders were unlawful and soldiers disregarding the safety of the very Iraqis we were there to protect. These individuals, and they are small percentage, may act bravely, at times, but to consider them heroes is a concept I personally find repugnant. Honor is earned; the undeserving cannot compel it.

More than a quarter of a million soldiers will be involved in operation Iraqi freedom before we all return home. We might all appreciate a hero's welcome but we do not all deserve a hero's reputation. In the debate on whether all soldiers are heroes one of the key questions we need to answer for ourselves is this: Should a year spent shirking duty is to be as honored as a year spent in unwavering selfless service performed with the utmost integrity?

I am thankful that most Americans choose to honor those who serve in this time of increased terrorism. I am especially grateful to veterans of previous wars, especially Vietnam, who strive so hard to ensure that the disrespect they received when they returned home never happens to an American soldier again. Yet, I believe the pendulum may have swung too far. Rather than just pointing out the problems of over-using a hallowed concept to the point of making it meaningless, I want to suggest a three part solution.

First, take the time to share stories of those who fight heroically for our country and our freedom. If you do not know any, you can talk to people who have served, read books or volunteer for the VA or for other veterans’ organizations. Although we might not personally know these heroes just listening to their stories makes them real. In retelling their stories let us also strive to tell the truth. Some members of our media seem determined to believe anything the enemy says about our troops to the point of accusing soldiers of war crimes without proper evidence. We also have irresponsible journalists willing to discuss for months the nuances of decisions that required split-second timing. We should not further complicate this morass with overstatements of our own. Instead, let use resources at our disposal to spread accurate stories of true heroism. Let me give you one example.

Shortly after Memorial Day in 2004 we held a memorial service for one of our base’s soldiers. He was an MP assigned to help an Iraqi police station process new applicants. That station became the target of a double suicide car bomb attack. Staff Sergeant Charles Kiser, age 37, 330th Military Police Detachment heard the first explosion. Rather than running for cover he surveyed the situation and spotted a pick-up truck loaded with hay heading toward the compound. He and two other soldiers ran toward an approaching second vehicle. They fired into the cab, killing the driver and detonating the car bomb 50 meters from the intended compound. The explosion killed SSG Kiser and wounded the other two soldiers. If it were not for the heroism of these soldiers many more American and Iraqi soldiers would have died that day. Staff Sergeant Kiser’s story is one of hundreds of such stories that deserve to be told. True stories of real heroes both honors them and is the best defense available against an anti-military media agenda.

Second, give the soldiers who fight for us the authority and resources to accomplish their mission and come home. (Applause) When our soldiers are fighting on our behalf then their mission, their security and their return should be our number one national priority. If Congress orders them home so be it. But let us never again send our troops into conflict and then micromanage them with naive rules of engagement that increase the possibility of defeat or force our troops to second guess themselves when lives are at stake. (Applause)  I am increasingly frustrated with politicians on both sides of the aisle who place protecting their political careers ahead of protecting our soldiers. (Applause)  The responsibility to compel this priority is in our control. Like SSG Kiser, we must now take action. We must send a clear message to D.C. that politicians who put their careers ahead of our soldiers will have no career. This coming election cycle let us commit to choose our leaders carefully.

The third way we can honor our heroes is to live in the freedom they fight to protect. When we lose a true hero we will grieve for a season. We may feel angry, sad, depressed, frustrated. It is often said that time heals all wounds. I disagree. Time simply passes. It is what we do with our time that heals. Would our heroes want us to remain lost in our despondency or shackled by public opinion polls? Or would they want us to saturate our lives with love, joy, and significance? Let us embrace the freedom they fight for and thus ensure that their heroism is not in vain. Let us endeavor to infuse our lives, and thus their heroism, with meaning.

In the spirit of true heroism, take the time to discover our true heroes, share their stories, protect them while they protect us, and live in the freedom we enjoy because of their sacrifice. They performed their duty; let us now perform ours. (Long, standing applause) 


Remarks of Joe Crecca at Seattle Rally

Sat October 20th, 2007


Former POW Joe Crecca

In the 6 years I spent in the Hanoi Hilton, I remember the so-called, “Peace Movement”, and “Peace Marches and Rallies” back home in the U.S.A.  Our captors provided us with any and all anti-U.S. and anti-Vietnam War propaganda.  We had to listen to the “Voice of Vietnam” broadcasts by, “Hanoi Hannah” and were given newspaper and magazine photos and articles about those opposing the war back in the States.  The peace marchers’ standard slogan was, “Bring our boys home now and, alive”.  Their warped thinking was that by demonstrating against the war in Vietnam, they’d be shortening the war and reducing the number of American casualties and bring POWs like me home sooner.  They were wrong on both counts not to mention the detrimental effect their actions had on the morale of our troops.

Their demonstrations had the exact opposite effect of what they were purporting to accomplish.  The war would have been over much sooner, with many fewer casualties and with a much more favorable result if those protesters would have instead rallied behind the Commander-in-Chief to accomplish our mission. (applause)

How many fewer names would be engraved into the black granite of the Vietnam Wall had there not been such a rabid anti-war movement?  I hope this never happens again. 

In the present conflict, the anti-war rabble have evidently succeeded in gaining the support of some well meaning but misled Americans.  One soldier who I was in email contact with even asked me if it was true that soldiers returning through SeaTac Airport were being spit upon by the anti-war protesters.

I hope those who feel that our presence in Iraq is wrong will reconsider their position.  Their actions in speaking out against the war in Iraq are hurtful to our combat soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen many of whom are not here today to say so themselves. (applause)


In his book, "Vietnam, A Necessary War", Michael Lind states,


"The failure of the Tet offensive was a devastating military setback for the communists.  Nevertheless, the Tet offensive was perceived as a defeat for the United States.  One reason was the sensationalism of western journalists, who gave the American public a misleading impression of the power and popularity of the Viet Cong." 

Listen to the recently published memoirs of North Vietnam's top military leader General Vo Nguyen Giap:

"What we still don't understand is why you Americans stopped the bombing of Hanoi.  You had us on the ropes.  If you had pressed us a little harder, just for another day or two, we were ready to surrender!  It was the same at the battles of TET.  You defeated us!  We knew it, and we thought you knew it.  But we were elated to notice your media were definitely helping us.  They were causing more disruption in America than we could in the battlefields.  We were ready to surrender.  You had won!"

The Vietnam War traumatized the American psyche.  Only history will finally record correctly that the war was not lost in was lost at home.  (applause)  For the first time in our history a war was lost by a public that lost its heart and will, inveigled by an anti-American media that deserve the blame as the real cause of the loss of character and will of the American public in the last half of the 20th century and the first half of the 21st.  Nearly everything we read in our newspapers and magazine, or see on our TV sets is negative about our presence in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Talk radio, happily, is a notable exception.

Unless and until we, as patriotic American citizens, speak out boldly against the forces from within - the liberal media and the Iraq war protesters - that would undermine us and our heroic efforts to achieve stability in the Middle East and ultimately a safer world then we are on a slippery slope in Iraq, just as we were in Vietnam. 

Like many other Americans who truly support our troops I have been sending packages to soldiers & marines in Iraq & Afghanistan.  So far I've sent 102 packages to brave Americans I have never met.  Besides the necessities and goodies that all the troops want and need I have been getting magazines from doctor's offices and sending them, too.  I encourage you to do the same thing.  You can get names & addresses from Lois Gustafson at the Eastside Republican Club –   Please also go to for information on how you can get involved in sending packages through OSOT.  Both are local organizations.

One last thing: Many who favor our unconditional withdrawal from Iraq say that although they do not support our military presence in Iraq they do support the troops. I have news for them.  If you support our troops you must, by definition, support their mission.  Anything else is pure rubbish! (loud applause)


PLEASE, FEEL FREE TO STAND IN FRONT OF THEM! (cheers and long standing applause)

Joe Crecca -Vietnam POW-22NOV66-18FEB73



Remarks of Johnna Funk at Seattle Rally

Sat October 20th, 2007


The Critics question for rebuttal is: Is Islamic Fascism or Islamic Extremism a dangerous enough “threat” to die for?  Webster’s Dictionary defines the word “threat” firstly as “an expression of intention to inflict evil, or injury and secondly as “ an indication of something impending, the key word impending meaning, about to occur.

The fact is, Islamic Extremists have committed and continue to commit suicide bombings and other terrorist attacks against innocent people around the world, including the people of Iraq and Afghanistan.

I believe we are beyond an intention to inflict injury.  I believe we are beyond that which is about to occur.  The reality is;  Islamic Fascism is no longer a threat, but rather, it is a bloody, gaping wound, already inflicted. 

These are my three sonsThey are why I am here today.   If not for their enlistment I might not have given much thought to our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.  When my own sons enlisted I then had, not only a face to put on our troops but I also knew at least two of their names.  Suddenly I and my family had a vested interest in what was going on, on the other side of our world. 

Johnna Funk, center, with 'Oorahmoms'

Oorahmoms, to which I belong, is but one of many military support groups.  We are a non-political group in that we support our troops regardless of our own political beliefs.  I came to know the Oorahmoms when at one point my two military sons were both going to be in Iraq at the same time.  I decided for the benefit of my sanity to pay a visit to the Oorahmoms.  I thought, “I’m going to walk into that meeting and those moms are going to tell me that I don’t have a thing to worry about”.  And then they started sharing.  I soon realized that there were moms there whose children were either currently serving at home or were in training to soon deploy.  Some of their children had suffered non-combat related injuries.  Some had deployed and returned home visibly unaltered, but forever changed.  Some of their children had already separated from the military without incident.  Some were physically wounded multiple times and willingly returned to their unit. Some were already disabled veterans of these wars.  And some gave all.  As I looked around the room at these women I had to ask myself a serious question.  The question being, “Do I want to be a part of a group that will daily remind me of the reality of the sacrifices that our children are making?”  It was not an easy choice but I now know that for me it was the right choice.  They have been my lifeline.  They have been my prayer support.  Without them to laugh with and cry with, I could not make this journey.  No Marine mom is left behind.  Finally, I get it.  We support each other so that we can support our troops.


Our Oorahmoms like volunteer organizations across our country support our troops in many different ways. We have many members who run organizations that assist our troops and families on the larger scale.  Many are involved in supporting this event today.  We have this one little tiny mom in our group, named Donna Padilla.  She has the gift of baking.  She is the baking queen.  When the Stryker Brigade came home recently many people provided baked goods which she picked up and delivered.  Donna alone baked 78 dozen cookies to place on the beds of those troops who would have no family to greet them when they came home. We are not all required to do that.  But I do believe we are required to do more than slap a support our troops magnet on our car and call it good. (applause)

All of us look forward to the Homecoming of our troops.  Two of our moms will be welcoming home their sons today in Hawaii.  However, we know from past wars that   Homecoming is not enough.  In fact it is only the beginning.  In anticipation of Homecoming, we must begin this moment to advocate on behalf of our troops as well as on behalf of the families that have stood beside them:

We must advocate for the benefits and assistance they will require in order to be successful post war. 

We must address the physical and emotional toll that multiple, and extended deployments have taken on our troops and their families.  

We must provide quality healthcare for our troops on their return.  (applause)

And we must make medical care easily accessible

We must address the growing number of veterans afflicted with PTSD

We must address the rising number of suicides among our troops. 

We must address the increasing rate of divorce among troops and the discouraging effect it is having on our military families. 

We must raise the pay of our starting troops to above poverty level.  (loud applause)

We must provide employment for our troops when they come home.  

And we absolutely must include our veterans in this process because who knows better than they what they require. 

So how do we effect this change?  Get involved in the political process.  Today is a great start.   Write to or better yet pay a visit to your Senators and your Representatives.  Demand that they introduce legislation to deal with these issues.  But most importantly exercise your right to vote.

Thank you all in advance for what you have done and will continue to do to support our troops.  It means so much to this Blue Star Mother. (loud applause)


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