Remember back in march, once the war had started, how risky it was to make any anti-war comments to people you knew at work or school or, um, at awards ceremonies? One thing was for sure. If you said anything against the war, you had better follow it up immediately with this line: "But I support the troops!" Failing to do that meant you were not only unpatriotic and un-American, but your dissent meant that you were putting our kids in danger. Of course, you needed to do no such thing. Why? Because people like you have always supported "the troops." Who are these troops? Most of them are our poor, our working class. Most of them enlisted because it was about the only place to get a job or receive the guarantee of a college education.
You, my good friends, have always, through your contributions, your activism, your votes, supported these very kids who come from the other side of the tracks. You never need to be defensive when it comes to your "support" for the "troops" - you are the only ones who have always been there for them. It is Mr. Bush and his filthy-rich cronies - whose sons and daughters will never see a day in a uniform - who do not support them.
Here they are, these 18-, 19-, and 20-year-olds in Iraq, most of whom have had to suffer under an unjust economic system that is set up not to benefit them - these kids who have lived their first 18 years in the worst parts of town, going to the most miserable schools, living in danger and watching their parents struggle to get by.
All that these kids in the army ask for in return from us is our promise that we never send them into harm's way unless it's for the defence of our nation. That promise has been broken in the worst way imaginable. We have sent them to war so Bush and Company can control the second-largest supply of oil in the world. By doing this, Mr. Bush has proven that it is he who is responsible for the nearly 500 American kids who have now died for no honest, decent reason whatsoever.
The letters from the friends and relatives of our soldiers over there make it clear that they are sick of this war and they are scared to death that they may never see their loved ones again. It breaks my heart to read these letters. I wish there were something we all could do. Maybe there is.
Many families of soldiers are hurting financially, especially those families of reservists and National Guard who are gone from the full-time jobs ("just one weekend a month and we'll pay for your college education!"). You can help them by contacting the Armed Forces Emergency Relief Funds at http://www.afrtrust.org/. (Ignore the rah-rah military stuff and remember this is money that will help families living in near-poverty.)
With 130,000 American men and women currently in Iraq, every community in this country has either sent someone to fight in this war or is home to family members of someone fighting in this war. Organize care packages through your local community groups, activist groups and churches and send books, CDs, games, footballs, gloves, blankets - anything that may make their extended (and extended and extended...) stay in Iraq a little brighter.
Finally, we all have to redouble our efforts to end this war and bring the troops home. That's the best gift we could give them; get them out of harm's way ASAP and insist that the U.S. go back to the UN and have it take over the rebuilding of Iraq (with the U.S. and Britain funding it, because, well, we have to pay for our mess).
To all who serve in our armed forces, to their parents and spouses and loved ones, we offer to you the regrets of millions and the promise that we will right this wrong. That your life was put at risk for Bush's greed is a disgrace and a travesty the likes of which I have not seen in my lifetime. Be safe, come home soon and know that our thoughts and prayers are with you.
From Featurewell. Michael Moore is director of several films, including Bowling For Columbine.