Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Man who set himself ablaze after son died in Iraq becomes citizen

December 12, 2006
By DAVID WEBER Associated Press Writer

LOWELL, Mass.— Two years ago, Carlos Arredondo tried to destroy a military van and set himself on fire in his grief over the news that his son, a Marine, had been killed in Iraq.

On Tuesday, Arredondo became a citizen of the country his son died fighting for, and used his new status in a protest, peaceful this time, of the war his son died in.

"Enough! Bring the troops home now!" read the sign Arredondo held aloft moments after he and 933 other immigrants were sworn as citizens in a ceremony at the Lowell Memorial Auditorium.

"Now I can use my First Amendment to say what I need to say," he said afterward.

"Now I can express myself without being afraid of being deported."

In August 2004, Arredondo was celebrating his 44th birthday and awaiting a phone call from Alexander, his oldest son, when a Marine Corps van pulled up in front of his house in Hollywood, Fla. The officers were there to deliver the news that 20-year-old son was dead.

At first, Arredondo would not believe it, convinced that his son, a practical joker, would dart out from behind the van and wrap him in a hug.

When Arredondo realized it was no joke, he lost it.He walked into his garage and grabbed a five gallon can of gasoline, a five-pound hammer and a propane torch, and headed for the van. Once inside he began destroying everything with the hammer, he recalled Tuesday."

I was screaming and yelling," he said. "I splashed gasoline all over the van and got some on myself. My mother was trying to pull me out of the van when I hit the button on the torch."

The explosion of the gas fumes threw Arredondo out of the van, and he was badly burned.

Arredondo, a native of Costa Rica, recovered from his injuries, and later met with the Marines to apologize. He also moved to Boston to be closer to his son, Brian, 19, and prepared to become a U.S. citizen.

"This is a way for me to honor my sons," Arredondo said about his passage into citizenship.
On Tuesday, December 12, 2006, Arredondo, 46, was among the immigrants representing 106 countries who became new United States citizens.

With his son Brian at his side, Arredondo held up a large photograph of his two sons as Rep. Marty Meehan thanked him for his son's sacrifice.

He held up his protest sign minutes later, as he left the building.U.S. District Court Chief Judge Mark Wolf, who issued the citizenship oath, asked the applicants to stand as he called the names of each of their home countries. Once they all were standing, the oath of allegiance was administered. The applicants erupted in cheers and waved tiny American flags when Wolf declared them citizens.

"You're coming here has sent us each a message," Wolf said. "You remind us that despite its imperfections, the United States remains special to people throughout the world. We thank you for delivering this message."

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Suuport Soldier Resisters- Dec 8 - 10

'Support the GI Movement & End the War, Again' ...by David Zeiger

General, man is very useful. He can fly and he can kill. But he has one defect: He can think.

This poem by Bertold Brecht was an anthem of the widespread GI Movement against the Vietnam War, and thirty years later it still resonates.
Today there is a growing GI movement against the War in Iraq.

It has the potential to tremendously impact the War in Iraq and end US foreign policies of empire. But it needs our help.
On December 8-10, there will be three days of action across the US to show widespread public support for the courageous troops that resist.
Educational events, rallies, marches and vigils will take place around the US. In the 1960's an anti-war movement emerged that altered the course of history.

This movement didn't take place on college campuses, but in barracks and on aircraft carriers. It flourished in Army stockades, Navy brigs and in the dingy towns that surround military bases. It penetrated elite military colleges like West Point. And it spread throughout the battlefields of Vietnam.

It was a movement no one expected, least of all those in it. Hundreds went to prison and thousands into exile. And by 1971 it had, in the words of one colonel, infested the entire armed services. I was part of that movement during the 60's, and have an intimate connection with it.
For two years I worked as a civilian at the Oleo Strut in Killeen, Texas -- one of dozens of coffeehouses that were opened near military bases to support the efforts of antiwar soldiers. I helped organize demonstrations of over 1,000 soldiers against the war and the military; I worked with guys from small towns and urban ghettos who had joined the military and gone to Vietnam out of a deep sense of duty and now risked their lives and futures to end the war; and I helped defend them when they were jailed for their antiwar activities. I made the film Sir! No Sir!, released earlier this year, to tell this suppressed story of the GI Movement. Today the new GI resistance movement is growing -- more soldiers are going public with their opposition, thousands are going AWOL, the first GI coffeehouse opened recently (with internet!), and the antiwar movement is realizing that supporting these soldiers is the next step. It's time for us to escalate public pressure and action in support of the growing movement of thousands of courageous men and women soldiers who have in many different ways followed their conscience -- upholding international law, taking a principled stand against unjust, illegal war and occupation and standing up for their rights. Widespread public support and pressure will help create true support for courageous troops facing isolation and repression, and help protect their civil liberties and human rights. Like the GI Coffeehouses of the 60's and 70's, showing widespread public support for soldiers who resist is one of the best ways those of us outside the military can encourage the growing momentum of GI resistance, a movement that has the direct power to end this war. Those of us outside the military must match their bravery by escalating our support for all GI resisters. They've got to know we're out here for them! Supporting GI resistance, together with counter-recruitment and draft resistance, is key to stopping illegal war and occupation ourselves. If the government can't recruit or draft enough new troops, and if troops refuse illegal immoral orders, it will help end the war and occupation and help prevent the next one. The December 8 - 10 Days of Action calls for: 1) Support for War Objectors 2) Protect the Right to Conscientious Objection 3) Protect the Liberties & Human Rights of GI's 4) Sanctuary for War Objectors. Support the actions or events in your area or organize an event, like showing Sir! No Sir! to a house party of friends or your local community. If not now, when? If not us, who? David Zeiger, director of the Film Sir! No Sir! was an organizer in the GI coffeehouse movement against the war in Vietnam. Visit http://www.CourageToResist.org for more information or to contribute to this campaign. To get a copy of Sir! No Sir! or see the trailer, go to www.SirNoSir.com. This letter is also this week's "Must Read" on Michael Moore's web site, http://www.michaelmoore.com/mustread/index.php?id=784