COLUMBUS, Ohio — The cost of the illegal Iraq war for Central Ohio came home here July 24 at a town hall meeting with hundreds of citizens, veterans and elected officials.

For nearly two hours, the audience was riveted by accounts of the hardship endured not only by U.S. troops, but by towns and cities struggling to cope.

Benita Turner, mother of two active-duty soldiers, tearfully recounted her concern for their safety and lamented that they, as well as many other soldiers, are ill equipped.

Columbus Firefighters Union President Jack Reel detailed the extra burden placed on city firefighters, as many of their comrades have been deployed in Iraq. The details were shocking: 33,000 extra hours of overtime have been required to keep the city safe from fires and emergencies to make up for the staff shortage. Overtime costs now average an extra $2 million per year.

Steel Workers Organization of Active Retirees President Don Coulter and Vice President Bill Hartley detailed the financial hardships endured by steelworkers and working families, in general. Both reminded the officials of the cost to the community in jobs and resources, and demanded that elected officials echo the voice of labor and the people to end the war now.

Invited guests Mary Jo Kilroy, Democratic congressional candidate and former Columbus city commissioner, and Columbus City Councilors Charleta Tavares and Hearcel Craig heard the testimony from local activists, doctors and concerned parents. But Republican Reps. Deborah Pryce and Pat Tiberi did not respond to the invitation and were not represented.

Although local groups long have demanded an antiwar resolution from the Columbus City Council, the council has been split along ideological lines. Thankfully, Kilroy and Tavares have committed their support to the resolution efforts.

The broad coalition of labor, local activists and concerned citizens is a clear signal the tide has changed on this ill-fated policy of war for oil.

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CONTRIBUTOR

Bruce Bostick
Bruce Bostick

Bruce Bostick is a retired steelworker and labor activist in Ohio.

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