Favorite

Guest Commentary 

Bring it home: What war has done to the Old Pueblo

Vince Turner, if you're out there, please look me up sometime. The after-school program took a blow when you deployed to Baghdad. Hard to believe it's been almost four years.

Up until the Iraq war/invasion/occupation started on March 20, 2003, local National Guard units used to volunteer in Tucson public schools like the one where I worked--helping kids stay off drugs, learn sports and increase self-esteem.

I tried to call and see if they were still doing such programs, but there isn't a published number any more for the Silverlake Armory (Homeland Security regulations). My guess is they're up to their eyeballs in combat preparation.

On this fourth anniversary of the Iraq War--a war that's killed hundreds of thousands, maimed many more and "displaced" millions--I want to talk about the dire warnings I heard when, as part of a peace delegation last June, I visited Jordan and Syria to meet with Iraqi refugees. At the time, more than a million terrified people had fled to Syria, and that many and half again more to Jordan.

These numbers continue to skyrocket, but the Weekly has requested I focus my comments on local effects of the war. In that spirit, I begin with a short memorial:

Spc. Alan E. McPeek, Lance Cpl. Joshua E. Lucero, Lance Cpl. Robert P. Zurheide Jr., Master Sgt. Kenneth E. Hunt, Sgt. Sean K. Cataudella, Sgt. Aron C. Blum, Pfc. Sam W. Huff, Cpl. Jeffery D. Lawrence, Hospitalman Chadwick T. Kenyon, Spc. Scott J. Mullen, Sgt. Tina S. Time, Spc. Robert Oliver Unruh, Sgt. Mark Vecchione.

If a Tucson soldier falls in Iraq, and nobody in Tucson hears him or her fall, does that make this war less real?

The 13 Tucsonans listed above gave their lives believing they were protecting us. Yet no one I talk to knows why we're fighting, and Congress has yet to start debating its way to any clarity.

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords has been to Iraq with Sen. Jon Kyl, but only Rep. Raúl Grijalva seems adamant about getting us out of there. Recently, I read that Rep. John Shadegg, of Phoenix, was advising fellow Republicans not to debate the war because of political fallout: It's the career, stupid.

The war remains painfully unvetted. Local papers rarely provide analysis, and front pages are reserved for more pressing crises: "Hippie Band Bans Military at Hotel Congress gig." If more of us knew even one of those 13 Tucsonans who have died, perhaps this war would hit home.

When I got back from the Middle East, I felt an urgent need to share what every frightened Iraqi refugee told us: Please get your military out. I spoke at libraries, house parties, Democratic clubs, retirement homes and churches. Most people disapproved of the war and were counting on the Democrats to stop it.

Some groups that turned me down promised to call after November when they weren't so busy getting Democrats elected. Five months later, the new majority seems barely able to even discuss withdrawal, as the president's caissons keep rolling along.

In late January, I attended Tucson's smallest peace demonstration. Holding up signs in front of the federal building, I was introduced to the new education director of the local United Nations Association (UNA) chapter, who apologized that no one had ever called me back about my request in June 2006 to speak at a UNA gathering about my interaction with Iraqi refugees. Thanks to his help, a UA Mideast professor and I will address the issue in a luncheon meeting at the Viscount Suite Hotel, 4855 E. Broadway Blvd., on Wednesday, March 21, at 11:45 a.m. The public is welcome.

Here are a few more of the many ways this war keeps affecting the Old Pueblo: Business is booming for our biggest employer, Raytheon Missile Systems; the Women in Black peace vigil continues, rain or shine, every Friday at 5:15 p.m., on the southwest side of Euclid Avenue and Speedway Boulevard; my friend Esther's son Carlos, who was in the first wave of Marines to enter Baghdad, is back home, with a new baby, about to buy his first house; the "A" has not been painted black for almost four years.

My deepest condolences to the families of the 13 Tucsonans who have died thus far in Iraq--and to us all, for a woeful lack of peacemaking, on this fourth anniversary of an inexplicable war.

More by Molly McKasson

  • Guest Commentary

    Should we be concerned about the gun sales at the Pima County Fairgrounds?
    • Sep 5, 2013
  • Guest Commentary

    With the Tucson City Council, neighborhoods take one step forward—and then one step back
    • Mar 8, 2012
  • Turning for the Better

    Tucson is in terrible shape, but we can fix it
    • Aug 25, 2011
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

  • Guest Opinion

    Shame on you, Senator Flake. Shame on you.
    • Mar 23, 2017
  • Guest Opinion

    City Councilman Steve Kozachik is asking his constituents to forget about campaign fundraising, and rehire him based on how well he’s worked for the community
    • Dec 1, 2016

The Range

Quick Bites: Tequila Takeover

Dr. Word Says: Trump Tries His Hand at Poetry

Flake Loves Him Some Cruzcare

More »

Latest in Guest Commentary

  • Guest Opinion

    Islam makes it clear that there is a moral duty when it comes to protecting water
    • Mar 30, 2017
  • Guest Opinion

    Shame on you, Senator Flake. Shame on you.
    • Mar 23, 2017
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Danehy

    Tom remains distressed by the nation's cult of ignorance
    • Jun 22, 2017
  • Danehy

    How to get on board with the racists and the dolts
    • Jul 6, 2017
  • More »

Facebook Activity

© 2017 Tucson Weekly | 7225 Mona Lisa Rd. Ste. 125, Tucson AZ 85741 | (520) 797-4384 | Powered by Foundation