Dear family and friends,
I'm on my way back to the US (in the Amsterdam airport) after an incredible trip to Iraq with the delegation of military families and veterans. We spent a week meeting with everyone from Ambassador Paul Bremer, the highest-ranking civilian in Iraq, to generals, US soldiers and all kinds of Iraqis. The delegates were wonderful and by the end of the week had formed a powerful bond with the Iraqi people. We did a lot of crying together, as well as dancing, eating and laughing. Fernando Suarez, a delegate who had lost his son in Iraq in March, met with parents who lost their sons at the hands of US troops. Fernando also brought thousands of letters of friendship from US schoolchildren that we distributed to Iraqi children in beautiful gatherings with hundreds of children shouting "No war, yes to peace; no war, yes to peace." He also had an intense experience going to the site of his son's death in the town of Diwaniya and gathering dirt from there to take home for his wife. Military mother Anabelle Valencia, who hadn't seen her daughter in 3 years (she had been previously deployed in Germany) traveled to the most dangerous part of the country--Tikrit--to see her daughter. On her first attempt, she discovered that her daughter had been sent on a mission outside the base. Determined, Anabelle returned on the same dangerous road the next day, and was able to have a teary reunion with her daughter. Mike Lopercio, whose son is serving in another dangerous part of Iraq, Fallujah, also managed to get to the US base and have an emotional reunion with his son.
All the delegates had a life-altering experience this week. They witnessed the terrible mistakes related to security and the economy that the US is making in Iraq. They talked to Iraqis who had been detained for months without charges, and tortured in prison by US forces. They talked to families whose loved one had been killed by US forces at check points or simply from random shootings. They saw that the Iraqis are getting angrier and angrier at the US. And they understood that the anger against the US, and the growing resistance against occupation, is putting their loved ones in great danger. We will be writing up the findings and recommendations of the group, and will spend the week in Washington and New York taking those findings to Congress and the Bush administration, as well as to the United Nations. So stay tuned....
Finally, I feel such gratitude towards this amazing group of Americans who took such risks to seek the truth and play a positive role in reshaping US policy in Iraq. History will prove that they, the peacemakers, are the true patriots.
Much love and peace, Medea