Thinking about the war dead on Memorial Day, “the most important thing is the people who are still there — caring for them, bringing them home,” said Toby, an Army vet from Indiana who served 15 months in Iraq, as he staffed the phone at the Iraq Veterans Against the War office in Philadelphia.

Active duty, reserve and National Guard troops will march in Columbus, Ohio, on Memorial Day behind the banner of “A Soldier’s Walk for Soldiers.” Standing in military formation, they plan to sign onto the Appeal for Redress. The online petition launched last fall reads, “As a patriotic American proud to serve the nation in uniform, I respectfully urge my political leaders in Congress to support the prompt withdrawal of all American military forces and bases in Iraq. Staying in Iraq will not work and is not worth the price. It is time for U.S. troops to come home.” Over 1,900 service members have signed so far.

One of the initiators of the appeal, Seaman Jonathan Hutto, 29, stationed in Norfolk, Va., will speak in his hometown, Atlanta, on Memorial Day, at the Oakhurst Presbyterian Church.

“This is the most appropriate response to honoring our troops — bring them home,” church member and Atlanta Coalition for Peace and Justice activist Kevin Moran told the World by phone. “This is how we should celebrate Memorial Day, a Christian response of peace and love of our neighbors.”

“Our church has opened its arms to Seaman Hutto, who is well known in the community, and we fully expect to pack the 500-seat sanctuary,” Moran said.

Over 3,450 U.S. troops have been killed Iraq and 25,225 wounded, according to official figures. Those numbers have a face for Pittsburgher Debbie Whitfield. Army Spc. Robert E. Hall Jr., her son-in-law, was killed on June 28, 2005, in Iraq.

“We cherish each and every day with our children but we do not ever expect that we will be in the position of planning their funeral,” she told a Mother’s Day rally. Spc. Hall is survived by his wife Tracie, his daughter Rachel and many family members. He took Rachel to preschool, then shipped out for Iraq. He never saw his daughter again.

“I am asking our government to take action to end the pain and suffering that the war has inflicted on countless families,” Whitfield told the rally, her voice starting to shake. “The American people have shown that they are not in favor of this war by their voices and their votes. Those of us who oppose the war are not anti-American, we love our country and we support our military. Defunding the war is not about abandoning our troops. It is about taking steps to bring them home to their families. We should not be funding the war, we should be funding the troops.”

dwinebr696 @aol.com

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