As of March 7th, 3,188 GIs have died in Iraq. More than 49,000 GIs have been what the military classifies as "non-mortal casualties," including more than 23,400 wounded in combat. The cumulative cost to the war to U.S. taxpayers through Sept. 30 of this year is now pegged at $457 billion, and this says nothing of future costs already obligated.
As mind boggling as these tragic losses and astronomical costs are to us in the U.S., just imagine, if you can, the impact of this criminal war of aggression on the Iraqi people. The entire fabric of their society has been torn asunder. While we lack precise numbers, best estimates indicate that it is likely that more than half a million Iraqis have died due to the invasion, occupation and war. Millions have been uprooted from their homes, living either in exile outside Iraqi or internally displaced. The human costs in life and limb, the cultural destruction and the environmental devastation are really beyond most of our comprehension.
It must be stopped. And the tragedy of a expanded war must be averted.
Healing will only begin when the United States gives up its imperial ambitions in the Persian Gulf region. It is essential that we, the American people, make our voices heard on this, and do so regularly and with significant urgency. We at Peaceworks implore you to speak out, to participate regularly in peace advocacy and, to plan to participate in and help organize for the upcoming March 18 event.
"PEACE IS GROWING!"--HELP MAKE THIS THE BIGGEST PEACE GATHERING YET:
This is the fourth consecutive year the Columbia Peace Coalition will be holding a major peace gathering to mark the anniversary of the Iraq invasion and to call for an end to the war. Sadly, the war goes on and we must do it again. In each of the previous years, this was our biggest peace demonstration of the year.
As public sentiment has turned steadily against the Iraq War, we really hope that with your help we can make this year's gathering, "Peace is Growing!," the largest to date. We have set a goal of gathering at least 500 of us, and would love to exceed this. As of March 7, 263 area residents have already signed up and many more are planning on attending.
We are asking you to do two things:
1) Commit to attending (using this online form) and
2) Become a recruiter, encouraging family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, co-parishioners, etc. to also sign up to be part of this. You may download a flier for printing and distribution.
We invite you to gather at Courthouse Square between 1:30 and 2 p.m. on Sunday, March 18. A short rally there will begin at 2 sharp, followed at 2:30 by a march through downtown. We will then have a tree dedication at 3:15 in Douglass Park. After a short program at the park, all who have time are invited to stay for a potluck picnic.
The general theme of the event is one of growing peace, growing new life, ending the war and the killing. The tree we are sponsoring (Columbia Parks and Rec. will do the actual planting) is a tree of life and of hope. Our message is positive and participatory. We want you to be part of making it happen.
We are asking everyone to sign on today and affirm your intent to help make this the biggest and best peace gathering to end the Iraq War yet.