You and I get to claim a great victory on having shifting the national conscience away from supporting the occupation in Iraq, especially with all of our diligent work in rural Oregon often making peace a part of daily life. This Memorial Day week ahead we can set our sight on the next big victory. Because even as the Senate passed a war funding bill for Afghanistan and Iraq, Oregon is inching ever closer to bringing our troops home. We are still fighting Capitol Hill to turnoff the endless funding stream, but our greatest power seems to lie in targeting the war in our own backyards.
In the Campaign to Keep Oregon’s National Guard in Oregon, we are close to a win here at home. The Campaign’s ability to keep consistent pressure on our State Reps and Senators as well as forcing our elected officials to see the burden of the war on our communities – psychologically, economically, and through loss of life – has put the peace community on the verge of a great victory. ROP members were critical in last weeks surge of pressure on Representatives Roblan and Boone (South and North Coast respectively) to get two of the final yes votes that we need for it to pass the State House. Boone made the right decision, Roblan still needs more pressure!
HB 2556, “which is supported by both Democratic Rep. Chip Shields (Portland) and Republican Rep. Dennis Richardson (Central Point) with proposed amendments, directs the state to deploy the National Guard for federal activity only with a valid Congressional enactment. Members of the year-long "Campaign to Keep Oregon’s Guard in Oregon" believe that there are enough votes to pass the bill in the Oregon House, and are calling on the Legislature to hold a work session and a vote immediately,” Peace and Justice Works tells us.
We are willing to make sacrifices for a better world or for justice but we are not willing to sacrifice the lives and mental health of our young men and women for even one day more. This war does not deserve our troops and we have an opportunity to point out the gaping holes left in Oregon by the Guard’s multiple tours in Iraq, in our budget, in our safety and in our families.
The Campaign will have a press conference next Wednesday, May 27 at 11:30am at the Capitol in Salem to pressure the House to bring the bill to the floor for a vote. Special guest Cindy Sheehan will be joining us to offer her words of encouragement and urgency. Everyone is encouraged to attend.
President Obama once said “It’s not enough to get out of Iraq; we have to get out of the mindset that led us into Iraq.” Zinn asks us to identify that mindset – he suggests that it is imperialism, violence and the unrestricted free market that got us into our current mess – war and the economy. “We want a country that uses its resources, its wealth, and its power to help people, not to hurt them. That’s what we need,” Howard Zinn, (Changing Obama’s Mindset, May 2009 The Progressive).