His keynote speech came at the end of a Seattle rally and march attracting at least 1000 people, protesting the war and Occupation of Iraq, as well as his upcoming court martial, scheduled for February 5, 2007 at Fort Lewis Washington. On that day there will be a gathering in support of his act of conscience, at the overpass to Interstate 5, exit 119, beginning sometime around noon.
Watada began by expressing his respect and admiration for all the GI's who have opposed the Occupation. He then requested that all " those listening keep in your thoughts and your prayers my step mother who just had a stroke at the Washington D.C. rallies," referring to the demonstration held in D.C. on this same day which gathered 150,000 - 200,000 people.
From here, he goes right to the heart of the matter: "in opposition to my position, the argument will be made that soldiers don't have the right to pick and choose their wars. I would respond that it is not only our right, but our constitutional duty. Many seem to forget that service members swear loyalty, not to one man or an institution, but to this country and its people. We don't swear to fight in wars or just do our job, nor blindly obey orders, but to protect the promise, principles and laws of this country at all costs."
"My intent is never to disparage the military or dishonor the sacrifices of troops ineither the past or present. Instead, I want to show you my fellow Americans, that while we focus on the minute issue of whether Lt. Watada is legally right or wrong, this country is falling apart around us. 66% of the 300,000,000 people in this country believe the war to be wrong, yet what are they dong to sacrifice something of themselves to stop it? Our own government has concluded that the mere presence of American troops in Iraq is making America less safe to terrorism. 80 - 90 % of Iraqis want us to withdraw within six months."
Lt. Watada continues, "we aren't there to protect America, we aren't there to protect Iraqis..........we are all being used for the pride and profit of a few in our society, and we are all paying for it it blood and treasure."
Following these remarks, Watada describes how his court martial will go, how he cannot in any sense of the word be given a fair trial. This is followed by a litany of the crimes and errors of the current Administration over the last six years, culminating in their imperialistic fumbling of the Occupation of Iraq.
"There are so many injustices committed by this administration....the Iraq war itself, founded by defrauding the American people has had the most devastating and obvious effects." He goes on to list a mountain of misery visited upon this country not only by the Bush Administration, but also by the people of this country. These deaths and living miseries began not just with the recent invasion and occupation, but with Desert Storm, the use of thousands upon thousand tons of Depleted Uranium munitions and then the long years of sanctions, which tortured the people, but left those ruling the country without harm.
"This is what I learned in just a year and a half alone. The pieces are there. Finding them and putting the puzzle together takes just a little effort. Our country is being led in the wrong direction, an illegal and immoral direction. But to know that our country was sent to war and devastated another civilization over falsehoods is something I will never stand for."
"There are some things that we just cannot do. Without principles, without sacrificing for what we believe, what is the point? Send me to prison, torture me, or kill me, I will never enable or condone the waging of war on another country over lies." At this point the audience broke into repeated loud cheers, chanting and stomping the ground, "they're our brother, they're our sisters, we support war resisters."
Watada then continued, "We as a free society live under the rule of peace, law and justice. We should never stand for this. It is our duty as children of God, it is our duty as human beings. No longer can we sit on the fence, no longer can we remain ignorant. If we ignore this responsibility, then we are equally culpable in these crimes, regardless if we are directly responsible."
Spoken quietly, deliberately, and eloquently, his words entered every heart and mind, exiting as loud applause and cheers of agreement and solidarity throughout this remarkable presentation. Watada spoke for 20 minutes, and in much greater detail than I have chronicled here in this brief report. He finishes, "my fellow Americans, I thank you for coming here today....you have taken the first step. We need to include all our brother and sister Americans in this fight against injustice and oppression by our country against its people and those around the world."
"I ask of you to keep hope and always have courage. In the end, we will win."
Lt. Ehren Watada, RealPlayer
Lt. Ehren Watada, MP3
Please don't forget that Lt. Watada needs our support on February 5, 2007 at his court martial. Supporters will be gathering off I-5 at exit 119 from around 11:00 until about 6:00 in the evening. Ongoing and updated information concerning details of this important event can be found at Courage to Resist
Iraq Veterans Against the War
Iraq Veterans Against the War Deployed