End of "Final Friday" vigil

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The First United Methodist Church of Germantown calls it a wrap after conducting a monthly vigil in opposition to the Iraq War since late 2006.

Fox News is terribly upset that Iraq War veterans didn't receive an enthusiastic homecoming parade in their honor, but Al Jazeera examines the site of the war's biggest battle between insurgents and Americans and finds Fallujah is still a pile of rubble, citizens there are still pulling dead bodies from the wreckage, there's still no steady electrical power, still no real victory.

Our frequent contributor Stephen Lendman has recently written on Iraq's and the Middle East's condition several times.

FUMCOG members Anne Ewing, Bill Ewing (With his back turned), Julie & Dick Cox

Members of the First United Methodist Church of Germantown (FUMCOG) have been joined by many peace groups in their "Final Friday" vigil many times, but the church has always been the core group since the vigil began in late 2006.


Jeff Harmon, the fellow with the "Honk for Peace" sign is the one who started the vigil. He was doing it with his son, FUMCOG member and Gold Star Mother Celeste Zappala (She lost her son, Sgt. Sherwood Baker, in the Iraq War,  he was the first member of the PA National Guard to have been killed since World War II) noticed him demonstrating in front of the Armed Forces Recruiting Center and decided that he had a good idea. We joined in on his vigil on September 2006 and just ended it as of December 2011.

Brandywine Peace Community has been a faithful member of the vigil.


So, what's the current status of Iraq, now that the US has pulled out? In a piece dated September 2008, the Center for American Progress concluded that the US presence in that country was making a true conclusion to the war, a genuine reconciliation impossible. They saw the end of the "Surge" as essentially having frozen the various internal competitors into place. The increasing fraction and disunity that's happening now is what would have happened three years ago and what would still have happened had the US remained for another five years.


Reverend Michelle Bartlow, FUMCOG's Senior Pastor, who retired a few months ago.


Fox News is terribly upset that President Obama won't throw a "grand, flag-waving, red-white-and-blue homecoming" for the troops that are arriving back from Iraq, but it's kinda hard to enjoy such a celebration when there really hasn't been any sort of victory. The Iraq War officially ended (The US "leaves behind a very large foot print which is its largest embassy in the world") and no, US troops weren't chased to the boats and didn't undertake any sort of frantic evacuation, but with conflicts between Iraqis simply having been deferred, there's not much point in victory parades.


Young one looks on as Brandywine bell ringer slowly rings the bell.


How have the architects of the Iraq War fared? How many combined years are they all serving in prison for their many crimes against humanity? Unfortunately, the answer to that is "Zero." Chris Hayes goes over how each architect is doing. I agree, the best line from his retrospective is:

HAYES: Doug Feith, the Undersecretary of Defense, who Geneal Tommy Franks once called "the f-ing stupidest guy on the face of the earth," is advising Rick Perry on foreign policy.

line of sign-holders

  How do Iraqis feel about the US departure? Pretty good, actually.


Baghdad- Thousands of Iraqis gathered in the capital Baghdad on Friday to celebrate the withdrawal of US troops from the country after nearly nine years of military involvement.

Led by clergy, they chanted slogans against the 'occupation' that started in 2003 and called the pullout earlier this month a 'day of liberation and evacuation.'
Sandy Rich
Two Navy vet peaceniks, Sandy Fulton & Rich Gardner. Sandy is wearing the sweatshirt for the Delaware Valley Veterans for America.

How about the Sunnis, an ethnic minority within Iraq? Erm, not so good, actually.

BAGHDAD (AP) — The question was disturbing: Why do you live here?

Ahmed al-Azami, a Sunni Muslim, has owned a house in Baghdad's Shiite neighborhood of Shaab since 1999. But when Shiite residents recently began questioning why he, a Sunni, was living among them, he decided it was time to leave.

His story and similar tales by other Sunnis suggest Iraqis are again segregating themselves along sectarian lines, prompted by a political crisis pulling at the explosive Sunni-Shiite divide just weeks after the American withdrawal left Iraq to chart its own future.

bellringer with vigilers in background

How fares Fallujah, that city that was the scene of the biggest single battle between Americans and insurgents in Iraq? Not very good. One in five births within the city has severe birth defects. Fallujah suffered an extensive use of chemicals.

Granny Peace Brigade

The Granny Peace Brigade presents Celeste Zappala with an award.


Back in October, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton put the best face on the situation:

“This was an ongoing discussion,” Clinton said. “At the end of the day as in many discussions, an agreement was reached that met the needs of both sides. We have fullfilled the commitment requested by the Iraqis … [and] we expect to have a continuing strong security relationship for many years to come.”


Celeste Zappala speaks of the long years at our vigil during which an occasional passing motorist would expres disagreement with our stand. Over time, the complaints got fewer and fewer and the signs of support grew and grew. We often counted all of the supportive honks of horns (We usually got about 400 in the hour) and yes, if someone passed by on foot or on a bicycle and said "Honk!" we counted that, too!


When people see things those around them don't it is upsetting

I see things others around me that others don't. A rare example I can tend
to prove is when Nixon was being impeached I thought there was a real danger
that Nixon would push the nuclear button rather then leave office. The
history books say the same thing arguing whether General Hague had a right
to take the button away from a drunk President.

Back then the head of Philadelphia Sane was working hard for impeachment
when I told him I feared Nixon might push the nuclear button, his life was
devastated and depressed until the Impeachment was complete. I felt guilty
that I made this Sane Nuclear Policy activist so miserable.

Fox News has it's spin but they twisted not invented.

Veteran’s and there very close relatives see a terrible war that is still
going on. A few that think the war is necessary think Obama betrayed them
by bringing most of them home.

But Americans in general think we are at peace and that some crazy vets are
imagining things. So some unknown reason most Americans dimly realize that
our treasury keeps bleeding, and the economy is week, but Romney and Newt
claim that the problem is iron poor blood and they have some Geritol tonic
tax cuts that will fix the economy after a few swings.

Some vets would much rather hear even condemnation for what they did than
for the people they meet see them as imagining things. President Obama going
around saying mission accomplished hurts as well.

Maybe Ron Paul and his followers are imaging that Paul has the solution. But
he is one of the few people going around talking about the real problems not
the imaginary ones, that there will be hardship in the near future no
matter what we do. Paul is one person who is enabling vets to see that they
live in the real world not an imaginary one.

Richard Kane

You may have been more perceptive than

most other people, but the feeling that Nixon might lash out in his angish was very clearly seen by the chain of command in Washington DC at the time when Nixon was indisposed and Spiro Agnew had been tossed out of office and Gerald Ford had not yet been confirmed as Vice-President. This was a period when General Haig (Not "Hague") was effectively the President and, as "No Quarters" argues, not a very good one.
Richard, when you write, you need to distinguish exactly whose viewpoints you're referring to. You speak of peaceniks, like myself, then you abruptly talk about pro-war people, then you refer to "people" who appear to think the war is over. I'd like to know who exactly this last group is. As I believe my piece makes clear, the war in Iraq is now being fought pretty much exclusively by Iraqis, but the fighting there is by no means over. Just today, the Inky refers to a bombing that killed 78 people in Baghdad and elsewhere.
Yes, I think it's very good for Ron Paul to raise issues, but I still won't recommend him for office.

BTW, very good piece by the blogger Digby, with an assist by Noam Chomsky as to why we often have to settle for the lesser of two evils and a piece from RT as to why I completely oppose the Obama Administration on a few specific issues anyway.

It's more complicated + complications in posting

Rich Gardner, I had to reduce to 70% to be able to read to the right margin of your comment.
I checked the statistics and there is a problem understanding them; suicide rates are up
dramatically among the still surviving World War II vets as well,

Richard Kane (PS Spam filter problems)




I've posted those two links as Headlines.

One can not comment on headlines

Philly Independent Media, PhillyIMC is one blog that greatly
encourages discussion. However, there is no discussion of headline
articles. Why so many World War II vets suddenly want to commit
suicide, needs to be discussed as we struggle to understand.

Concerning the previous comment "Thanks" at one point I signed in
through firefox and got an out of date webpage even after sighing in.

Richard Kane

You can always start up a piece

beginning with the headline. I'd recommend reproducing the headline, a link to the piece that the headline references and perhaps some relevant excerpts. After that, you can chatter and discuss and draw conclusions all you want on the piece. No need to feel limited by the technology!