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Re: At fifth anniversary of Iraq War, locals concerned
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Jackass Sings Worst President in American History Farewell Song Resized Image

Posted on: 2008/3/18 1:26
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Re: At fifth anniversary of Iraq War, locals concerned
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You can read more about the exhibit at the link below

http://www.afsc.org

Posted on: 2008/3/15 16:03
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Re: At fifth anniversary of Iraq War, locals concerned
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Great post and please accept my heartfelt and sincere thanks for your service.

I don't know about this program's current administration (i.e. whether it is still the good program it was in the past) but a place to start is:

www.anysoldier.com

And of course, the long tradition of www.uso.org is well known.

Posted on: 2008/3/15 15:33
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Re: At fifth anniversary of Iraq War, locals concerned
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As someone who was recalled into active duty and served in 2001 - 2002, I believe that I speak from some experience. While we approach the 4000th casualty in Iraq and some ready themselves for protests, keep in mind what matters while they are over there and we're here.

The most heartwarming thing from the states was a letter or care package from a stranger. The individual who sent me the package was from Jersey City and was someone who understood something about growing up here. The person sent me a big bag Swedish Fish and a short note. I know that it may seem pretty trivial, but many of us remember buying Swedish Fish for a penny from the local candy store (I am an oldtimer). I was reminded of my childhood and all that mattered in life: home. And it took a simple gesture to do that.

Supporting the troops is easy to do. Find a soldier from the area and send a note and photo from JCLIST's gallery. A pack of Violets (yuck), pumpkin seeds, or Swedish Fish will remind them of home. Even a recent Jersey Journal or Reporter will put a smile on that individual's face after a long day of patrolling. Trust me.

Sure, this war in Iraq is a mistake and many from my unit serving just before March 2003 felt that our job in Afghanistan was far from over, but out of loyalty we go. It is because of loyalty to our brothers and sisters patrolling in a wedge formation at 10 meter intervals through unknown terrain, that we do what we do. It isn't dedication to an abstract policy or mission.

Get off the wall!
Don't be stupid!
Get down!
Shut up!
Stop telegraphing your position!
Put that cigarette out!
86 that Ipod!
Who has a friggin cell phone? Gimme that thing!
That better not be what I think it is. Gimme that video game!
Map! How much further?

This is the typical jargon on patrol. No politics. Everyone comes homes in one piece.

Posted on: 2008/3/15 15:12
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At fifth anniversary of Iraq War, locals concerned
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I don't want to see my sons go back there'
At fifth anniversary of Iraq War, locals concerned

Ricardo Kaulessar
Huson Reporter
03/15/2008

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REMEMBERING THOSE WHO PERISHED ? Downtown Jersey City resident Edgar Ramirez viewed a display of boots in front of City Hall in Jersey City as part of Eyes Wide Open New Jersey, an exhibit organized by American Friends Service Committee in May of last year, to remind people of the lives lost in the Iraq War.
There is no end in sight for the Iraq War, which began on March 20, 2003 - five years ago this coming Thursday.

As of last Tuesday, 3,980 members of the U.S. military have been killed in the last five years, and the conflict costs an estimated $12 billion per month.

Proponents of the war say that it was necessary to determine that Iraq didn't have major nuclear weapons, and then it became important to keep various factions in the country from becoming violent against each other. But many feel that the conflict is not worth its price.

From New Jersey, 69 soldiers have lost their lives in Iraq, including two from Hudson County - Miguel Marcial III of Secaucus, who died last April, and Army Spc. Marlon Jackson from Jersey City, who died in 2003.

Last week, Jersey City residents who have a connection to the Iraq War gave their observations of the war after five years.

'It's getting better'

For Jersey City Fire Captain Lenny DiStaso, putting his life on the line has become second nature. A Marine Corps soldier for 18 years and serving in the Fire Department for the past 10 years, DiStaso, 36, is one of a number of soldiers who served in both the Gulf War in 1991 and in the Iraq War. He served in the latter for three months in 2003 and for nine months in 2005.

One observation DiStaso had regarding the fifth anniversary of the war is that he doesn't like discussing his service in Iraq often, even though he is optimistic about the situation there.

"Everyone understands what we are doing, and it's definitely better over there - it's getting better," DiStaso said. "Whenever someone asks me a question now [about Iraq], I really don't like talking about it too much because it's too political, and it's becoming more about what people's political beliefs are versus what we are doing."

DiStaso also said he will be deployed back to Iraq next year, but plans to retire from the military in 2010 after 20 years of service, so he can spend more time with his wife and two young children.

However, DiStaso said it has been the support locally that has helped him and his family deal with his situation.

"I would just like to say that the biggest and best thing I have seen since 9/11 is the consistent and overwhelming support the Jersey City Fire Department and the people of Jersey City have shown me and my family during my deployments," DiStaso said. "It would have been extremely difficult for us during those times if it was not for them."

Parent - concerned but proud

Richard Boggiano is a detective in the Jersey City Police Department who served in the U.S. Marines in the 1960s, and is the father of two sons, Christian and Jonathan, both Army officers (and West Point graduates) who both served in Iraq until their service ended one and a half years ago.

Boggiano and his wife, Mary, led a campaign in 2004 to collect used bulletproof vests from police departments across New Jersey. The vests were sent to Iraq to help shield military Humvees.

Boggiano said last week that he believes the war should have ended two years ago.

"We should have gone in and done the job properly - and then got out," Boggiano said. "There is too much restraining of our soldiers, too much political correctness, and our boys are risking their lives over there."

Boggiano also said he was proud of both of his sons' service in Iraq, which continues a tradition in his family of serving in the military going back to 1848.

But he is not looking forward to his sons going back to Iraq any time soon.

"I worry like any parent, and I don't want to see my sons go back there again," Boggiano said. "They've done their time; they've served their country proudly."

Vietnam and Iraq

Jaime Vazquez was a Marine Corps soldier who in May 1970 was hit by shrapnel during a battle in Vietnam. He spent four months in the hospital.

When Vazquez returned to Jersey City from Vietnam in the early 1970s, he put his energies into his community, serving as a City Councilman from 1985 to 1997.

Currently, he is the city's director of veterans' affairs, but Vazquez also continues to carry on his longtime work as an anti-war activist, participating in a number of major protests against the Iraq War in the past five years.

"The number - in my opinion - that counts the most is the 4,000 lives that have been lost in the last five years," Vazquez said. "Unfortunately, the soldiers coming back are suffering with war-related stress. There is an estimate that 30 percent of the soldiers coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan will suffer from post-traumatic stress."

Vazquez said he sees speaking out on the war and helping the returning veterans as "doing his duty" as he recalled what happened after the Vietnam War.

"We have to do for them what we didn't do for Vietnam veterans," he said.

Vazquez also said he was happy that his brother-in-law, a 30-year military veteran who served most recently Iraq, Afghanistan, and Turkey, retired two weeks ago after waiting an extra five years to leave the military.

Comments on this story can be sent to rkaulessar@hudsonreporter.com.

Posted on: 2008/3/15 13:58
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