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 Day 19

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A Father's Day Message

Both Parties Have Betrayed America

by MICHAEL BERG

Of all of the holidays a grieving father can be confronted with after the death of his child, Fathers’ Day is for me the most difficult.

My son Nick died in Iraq on May 7, 2004. He is buried next to my father, who had died just a year and a half before. That is not the way it’s supposed to be. I’m supposed to go somewhere between my father and my son. My mother is on the other side of my father, and my mother’s parents are nearby. My proud immigrant grandparents died first, then my parents died many years later. That is the way it is supposed to be.

I want to make sure no father suffers the loss of their son or daughter in Iraq or a future illegal war of aggression. I urge all those who oppose the military occupation of Iraq and do not want to see future wars of choice to sign the Voters Pledge at www.VotersForPeace.US. Nearly fifty thousand people have already signed. It will let politicians know that we will not support pro-war candidates in the future.

There is a lot else going on that is not the way it is supposed to be. Our leaders are not supposed to lie to us. Yet that is precisely what George Bush and company have done. They told us to beware of weapons of mass destruction, Iraqi involvement in 9/11, and Al Qaeda infiltration of Iraq. We now know these were all lies, yet still my son and the loved ones of 150,000 other grieving souls lost their lives because of them.

I have no excuse. Though I doubted the veracity of George Bush’s words, I did too little too late.

My son Nick was an independent contractor, not associated with Haliburton, Bechtel, Lockheed-Martin, or the U.S. military. Nick was murdered in retaliation for the atrocities committed at the Abu Ghraib prison: murders, rapes, and torture of Iraqi citizens. Though Donald Rumsfeld says he took responsibility for those atrocities, no consequences were felt by him, but they were by my son and everyone who loved him. George Bush ordered Alberto Gonzalez to rewrite definitions of torture essentially ordering these sins, and he did so with impunity. This is not the way it’s supposed to be either.

Nick was arrested by George Bush’s military without reason and then illegally detained for thirteen days. While he was in custody, the revelations of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal became public. These revelations ignited the resistance in Iraq and made it impossible for Nick to get home alive. When Nick did arrive home, it was to the military mortuary at Dover Air Force Base, a base from which I and all other loved ones of the invisible deceased are barred. This is not the way it’s supposed to be either.

We learn more and more of the truth of what is happening in Iraq every day. We learn what is happening to America and our allies as a result of the voters of these United States electing the wrong men and women: unjustifiable wars, the undermining of vital social programs, willful neglect of the maintenance of the infrastructure of our nation, and dangerous "ignorance" of climate change that could result in unprecedented disaster.

This is the legacy of these leaders. Neither of the two largest political parties in this country are doing anything to make things the way they are supposed be.

On March 17, 2006, I joined many others, both conservatives and liberals, in taking the first steps to put things right. I had the honor to be the first person to sign the Voters Pledge for Peace.

The Voters Pledge on the Voters for Peace website is a project comprising many of the major organizations in the antiwar movement-United for Peace and Justice, Peace Action, Gold Star Families for Peace, Code Pink, and Democracy Rising-as well as groups with broader agendas like the National Organization for Women, Progressive Democrats of America, AfterDowningStreet.com, and magazines including the American Conservative and the Nation. The goal of this coalition is to build a base of antiwar voters that cannot be ignored by anyone running for office in the United States. We want millions of voters to sign the pledge and say no to pro-war candidates.

You can help right now by visiting www.VotersForPeace.US and immediately signing the Voters Pledge, which states:

I will not vote for or support any candidate for Congress or President who does not make a speedy end to the war in Iraq, and preventing any future war of aggression, a public position in his or her campaign.

And after you sign it, send it to everyone you know and urge them to do the same. Together we can change the path of the United States-move ourselves in a new direction toward the way it’s supposed to be, so that all fathers, all mothers, all Americans will be able to face the next Fathers Day, Mothers Day, and Independence Day with the pride these holidays deserve.