March 23 update VitW

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Posted by Sadie from D006025.N1.Vanderbilt.Edu ( on Wednesday, March 26, 2003 at 1:51PM :

Dear Friends,

Tonight, as we mourn the mounting casualties on both sides of the battle in
Iraq, I wanted to share this excerpt from a statement against war issued by a
group of women peacemakers during World War One:

"Whoever may be the enemy, our sons are bidden to fight in the next war.
We know their lives will be sacrificed in vain. War settles nothing. Every
victory has within its womb the seeds of future war. No country is ever wholly
in the right or wholly in the wrong. In every nation there are good and bad.
You cannot punish the pride of an Emperor by killing numbers of his
peasants. We are not willing to go through the long months of pregnancy
and labor merely to produce more cannon fodder."

One of the first U.S. casualties in Iraq was Kendall Waters-Bey, a
29-year-old Marine from Baltimore, Maryland. He died, along with 11 others,
when his helicopter crashed near Umm Qasr.

Michelle Waters, the Marine's oldest sister, spoke to a reporter for the
Baltimore Sun shortly after hearing news of her brother's death, "It's all for
nothing, that war could have been prevented," she lamented. "Now, we're
out of a brother. [President] Bush is not out of a brother. We are."

Similar despair must grip the family members of the two dead Iraqi soldiers I
saw in a photograph today. Their lifeless bodies were collapsed in a
trench, one soldier still gripping his white flag of surrender.

In the face of such overwhelming tragedy, we offer up an unusual story. It is
the story of a young girl and a birthday party in Baghdad. We hope you will
find some glimmer of hope in this parable of the human spirit:

"Amal Shamuri is the fifth child in a family of eight, living in a small
off Baghdad's Karrada shopping district. Irrepressible and precocious,
Amal joked last January that she wouldn't mind a war if George Bush would
only bomb her school.

"Today was a different story. Today, Amal celebrated her thirteenth birthday
on the fourth day of American air strikes on Baghdad with plumes of black
smoke surrounding the city and darkening the sky, reportedly from oil set
afire by Iraqi forces defending the capitol.

"Her family and friends gathered with members of the Iraq Peace Team in a
small garden near the Tigris river to mark the occasion. They blew balloons
and soap bubbles, strung party streamers, played tag, and ate barbecued
chicken, potato salad, deviled eggs, and chocolate cake. True to form, the
kids ate the cake first, before serving the rest of the meal to the adults

"Cruise missiles exploding to the south and east occasionally interrupted
the party, one powerful enough to rattle tableware and partygoers alike. The
explosions only temporarily silenced the festivities; but with moments the
garden once again erupted to squeals of laughter and boisterous childhood
games, played beneath rising plumes of air-borne debris and smoke in the

"'Life is more powerful than death,' said Shane Claiborne, age 27, from
Philadelphia. 'How can George Bush bomb these kids?,' he asked.

"Lisa Ndejuru, age 32, from Montreal, quietly remarked, 'What a day to be

"Amal's mother, Kareema, sat silently to one side, watching her kids play.
Her husband died in a car accident eight years ago, leaving her to raise
eight children by herself. To her credit, none of them beg in the streets, and
all save the oldest remain in school. Amal herself dreams of becoming a
lawyer one day.

"When asked what she wanted for her birthday, Amal - whose name means
'hope' in Arabic - smiled and simply replied, 'All I want is peace.'"

For photos of the party, visit: <>

Members of the Iraq Peace Team have begun visiting hospitals in Baghdad
to interview the wounded. We hope to have something to share with you
from those visits soon.


Jeff Guntzel, for Voices in the Wilderness

-- Sadie
-- signature .

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