By Maya Schenwar t r u t h o u t Report
Saturday 01 March 2008
Thirty-seven years ago, in the midst of a bitter-cold Michigan winter, 109 Vietnam veterans gathered at a Howard Johnson Motel auditorium in Detroit to tell their stories. For three days, they told of ransacking undefended villages, attacking civilians, mutilating bodies, torturing Viet Cong suspects, burning houses, destroying Vietnamese property and livestock and killing innocent children. At the conference, entitled Winter Soldier, the veterans accepted responsibility and mourned for their actions. But, taken collectively, their words incriminated a much larger culprit: the war itself.
This year, from March 13 to 16, about 300 veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will follow in the footsteps of their predecessors, gathering for a second Winter Soldier conference, in Silver Spring, Maryland. Organized by Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) it will make up the largest gathering ever of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.
Their mission? To tell the story of the war in the terms of those who have actually lived it.
"This is a moment when veterans won't let anyone else speak for us," said Aaron Hughes, an Iraq veteran who initiated the new Winter Soldier effort. "We hear from the pundits, we hear from the politicians, we hear from the generals, but we don't hear from the soldiers who've walked the streets, who've been there and know what it's about. We're the ones who can bring out the cruelties and dehumanization in US foreign policy." Read On