Sunday November 11
I had heard of the decision to award Bush the Liberty Medal in the summer. Gold Star Mom Sure Niederer had asked if we should be present, but I had thought to go to Washington DC with the Vets to protest the Trump parade. By early November I knew I could not go to DC, and felt I must be a voice opposed to George Bush being honored with a medal for serving veterans of the war he so foolishly started. I checked with my friends in the Peace network but could not find any actions planned at the Constitution Center where the medal would be awarded.
By Friday, I felt compelled to go and be a witness for the Truth- even if I was alone. Fortunately, when I posted a call to protest, a few of the old Peace friends responded. On Sunday morning I asked the members of my faith community, the First United Methodist Church of Germantown to stand with me. As the sun began to set on Independence Mall a dozen of us were present. I held a huge picture of my fallen son, Sgt Sherwood Baker, and others held signs saying remember, 4,541 plus Americans dead, 500,000 plus Iraqis dead- for a war based on lies.
The street in front of the Constitution Center was fairly quiet. Well dressed guests passed through safety stations to go in, we stood on the opposite side of the street- barely close enough to see each other’s faces. Shortly after 5 we heard whistles and a drum- the vets of About Face appeared.,- the Calvary had come! Full of energy and enthusiasm, they took their place directly in front of the recently erected tent where the ceremony would take place. Chants and speeches, their voices filled the air and we, the civilians chanted with them.
The Vets had brought a sound machine, and a projector- when finally Joe Biden then Bush spoke, we stood directly in the front of the thin plastic shield that divided us from the folks in the tent, and began to yell “:Shame”. We called, “Bush lied, people died” “No awards for endless war”. One of our friends, the former wife of a Vet, Stacy Bannerman, was removed from the tent after she attempted to interrupt the ceremony to return the medal she had received in recognition of her husband’s service.
In the darkening street, the Vets and we older folks chanted and yelled- and we were heard in that tent. Joe Biden and George Bush could not escape our shaming of them. The sound machine provided the wail of a siren for the entire speech, and the Vets whistled – shrill and persistent.
George Bush accepted the lies created by his administration and chose to begin a war in Iraq. The whole World was injured by that mistake. George Bush did indeed open the gates of Hell, and to this day, hundreds of thousands of people are still paying the price, their lives are forever altered, the loss of hundreds of thousands of people will echo for generations. This man deserved no medal of honor. His work to support veterans can not redeem him if he can never account for his betrayal of the truth. For those of us screaming outside that tent, the loss and pain we carry is permanent, but as one Vet said, “we are together, we are here, we have our voice.”