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Michael Berg, 'Third Year Speech,' father of son killed in Iraq, March 17th, 2006

This war is not George Bush's war anymore! Yes he lied to us. He started it. He continues it. He continues to lie in order to maintain some semblance of support for it. But it is not his war anymore!

And this war is not Congress's war anymore. Yes, they voted for it. They fund it. They plunge us into debt, and they rob vital domestic programs to pay for it. They lie to us too, call themselves peace candidates, while continuing this war. But it is not Congress's war anymore!

This war belongs entirely to you and me! We, not they, are responsible for it. There will always be evil doers and their followers to start and continue attacks on innocent and sovereign peoples, but it takes the consent of those governed to carry out the evil deed.

I learned what taking responsibility for this war means in May of 2004 when I received that awful phone call we all dread telling me my lovely son Nick was dead. He had been killed in Iraq by persons still unknown to this day, while looking for a contract which he never received and working for free to do what he could for the Iraqi people. His killers had help from the American Government.

The American Government destabilized the country and let them in. The American Government allowed, covered up and encouraged the tortures, rapes, and murders for which my son's murder was supposedly retaliation, not to mention they sanctioned the tens of thousands of deaths of innocent Iraqi Civilians. And this American Government illegally detained my son for thirteen days thrusting him into a revitalized war energized by the atrocities of this same American Government.

Yes it was during this phone call that I learned the difference between attending the occasional rally or vigil for peace, and taking responsibility for this war. It was during that phone call that I committed myself to stopping this war any way that I could. It was during this phone call that I began to torture myself by thinking night and day of just what action will end the war. And it was during this phone call that I realized what taking responsibility too little too late had cost me.

Now you may not have a loved one in Iraq, but your loved ones are just as vulnerable as my son Nick was. As long as the United States has a presence of any kind in the Middle East, not just Iraq, the target zone remains zeroed in on your children’s schools, the shopping area where your family shops, the commuter train that you take to work every day, or the building in which your loved one works.

So what could be more important than your taking responsibility for this war. Stopping it before it takes one of your family should be your highest priority. You must do all that you can do to stop this war before it stops one of yours. To borrow a phrase from an unlikely source: “Be all that you can be!” to bring an end to this war.

Declare yourself. Wear your buttons, not just here and today, but tomorrow at work as well. Wear your feelings on your shirts, on the bumpers of your cars or bicycles, on the lawn signs or window signs in front of your house. Talk to your friends about the war and even your spouse's friends or family.

Write, email, telephone, petition your lawmakers. Do it soon and do it often! Vote for someone who is against the war, not for the lesser evil of the two who have you convinced no one else can win.

Divest yourself of  your war bonds, your war mutual funds and your war stocks. Invest in your neighbors and their businesses. Don't buy from the big companies at the malls who support this evil regime; buy from your neighbors who own the small businesses on Main Street of your home town.

Get out to a vigil, a demonstration, a protest, a civil disobedience, and do it regularly. Our numbers must increase until we swell the streets we stand on, so that even the media, slanted as it is, can no longer ignore us.

I have been arrested six times, maybe seven by the end of today. I have traveled around the world speaking out against the war. I have been away from my family for too long and too often. I have spent countless hours, vigiling, demonstrating, writing and speaking, and do you know what I regret?

Like a man named Haushofer I do have my regrets. Haushofer was arrested for speaking out. Nazi SS prison guards were required to extract a confession from prisoners before they were hanged or shot, but Haushofer refused. When they removed his body, a paper fell out of his pocket. It was his admission of guilt written in the form of a sonnet. And like Haushaufer I too feel this guilt and share his regret:

Guilt
I am guilty,
But not in the way you think.
I should have earlier recognized my duty;
I should have more sharply called evil evil;
I reined in my judgment too long.
I did warn,
But not enough, and clear;
And today I know what I was guilty of.

So, today is the day to take responsibility for this war. It's your war and it's yours to stop. Let us not rest until the job is done! Thank you.

 
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