Over 100 hundred Iowans gathered at a rally on March 19, 2011 to mark the eight anniversary of the U.S. war in Iraq and to call for an end to all U.S. wars. The gathering was organized by Iowa Veterans for Peace, Chapter 161, and was co-sponsored by a number of organizations, including AFSC.

Videographer Rodger Routh compiled this report.

Below is a statement shared by Kathleen McQuillen, AFSC Iowa Program Coordinator:

Good to be with you today as we observe this 8th anniversary of the US war and occupation in Iraq. This is a day we observe with great sadness and outrage – a day in which we try to take account of the tremendous cost of this war. The cost no matter how it is measured is staggering.

We know the stats:

  • Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis killed or wounded.
  • Tens of thousands of US killed or wounded.
  • Iraqi infrastructure destroyed.
  • US war costs draining the US economy are now into the trillions.

What does it mean to look behind the numbers – to look into the lives of the families of the killed or wounded?

  • Families destroyed in Iraq and the US
  • Infrastructure destroyed inside Iraq. Now eight years after the start of the war, the Iraqi people still don’t have adequate electricity and clean water.
  • We are today only at the beginning of acknowledging PTSD in this country. And what must Post Traumatic Stress Disorder look like in Iraq?

The thing that continues to shock me is that families still send their children off to fight other people’s children – even as we know about the war costs, and casualties, and PTSD.

So today, I observe with sadness, outrage and also humility. Our best efforts have not stopped or slowed the killing machine.

My humility leads me now to ask what else do we need to do? What do we need to do differently? Am I, are any of us, talking enough to our neighbors, to our families? It is indeed our neighbors and families who continue to send young people off to war, and all of us who continue to pay for it – robbing again from those most in need in our communities.

Let us recommit as the US begins its 9th year of war and occupation to connect with our communities and our families.  While we need to continue our work with our congressional offices, we must expand that work to connect with teachers and school boards, the medical community who is working with the war victims, and our city councils who are struggling to fund our schools, our roads, our actual emergency responders – the firefighters and police.

Let us recommit to ensuring that this is the final anniversary of the Iraq War and the beginning of an end to all wars.