Candlelight Remembrance Ceremony
on Withdrawal of Combat Troops from Iraq

Kansas City: August 31, 2010
Comments by Ira Harritt, KC Program Coordinator

We gather here, on August 31, 2010, the eve of President Obama’s deadline for the withdrawal of all U.S. combat troops from Iraq. We are here to remember what we have lost in the seven plus year of war; to remind the public and especially those who would call the withdrawal a victory, or suggest that it means the end of the Iraq war ; remind them of the disaster the war has been.
 
While we are pleased that President Obama has fulfilled his pledge to remove U.S. “combat troops” from Iraq, this action still will leave almost 50,000 U.S. troops and 75,000 DOD military contractors in the country.
 
The Iraq war has devastated Iraq and the U.S.  Our troops and their families have paid too high a price for the Iraq fiasco. Over 4,400 U.S. troops have lost their lives; over 31,000 U.S. soldiers and marines have been wounded; and many, many more suffer from traumatic brain injury and post traumatic stress.
 
Our nation has wasted over $740 billion on this war, which could have been spent to establish a healthy green job-creating economy.
 
Tragically the cost of the war has been even greater for the Iraqi people. For 20 years they have suffered under sanctions, invasion and occupation. Millions have been killed, injured, traumatized, displaced or forced to flee and live as refugees. The best thing we can do for the Iraqi people is to remove all of our troops and contractors, enabling them to reach political agreements without the U.S. presence undermining the process.
 
The August 31, 2010 partial withdrawal:

  • Does not end U.S. military presence in Iraq
  • Does not end U.S. support of a corrupt and unpopular government
  • Does not end U.S. presence, which distorts the power balances among Iraqi factions, delaying essential political progress

We must:

  • Bring all U.S. troops & military contractors home
  • Close all U.S. military bases in Iraq
  • Repair the damage we have done

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 Candlelight Remembrance Ceremony

We hold these candles remembering the costs of the war in Iraq. We hold these candles with hope for the future and hope that the soul of our nation will turn away from military might and instead use our wisdom, resources and power to nurture and build a peaceful and just future.
 
We sound this gong remembering the 4,416 U.S. troops killed in Iraq

  • Silence
  • “War is not the Answer”

 
We sound this gong remembering the estimated one million plus Iraqis killed in the war

  • Silence
  • “War is not the Answer”

 
We sound this gong remembering the families broken by this war and the troop coming home with physical injuries, PTSD, Traumatic brain injury and many other challenges

  • Silence
  • “War is not the Answer”

 
We sound this gong remembering the estimated five million Iraqi refugees and displaced persons and those who suffer without adequate healthcare, education, housing, electricity, employment – they have lost much

  • Silence
  • “War is not the Answer”

 
We sound this gong with hope that the U.S. will withdraw all of its troops and contractors prior to the December 2011 bilateral deadline

  • Silence
  • “Peace is Possible”

 
We sound this gong with hope that the U.S. will embrace its responsibility and help rebuild Iraq, and repair the damage we have done and in the process empower Iraqis rather than seek further profiteering from this war.

  • Silence
  • “Peace is Possible”

 
We sound this gong with hope that the various Iraqi factions will negotiate in good faith and hammer out durable and just agreements upon which their nation can move forward improving the wellbeing of its citizens.

  • Silence
  • “Peace is Possible”

 
We sound this gong with hope that the U.S. will turn away from war and the influence of war profiteers and use our wisdom, resources and power to nurture and build a peaceful and just future

  • Silence
  • “Peace is Possible”