An Iraq veteran speaks out against the war
November/December 2007

Iraq war veteran and Gainesville resident Clifton Hicks spoke at the United for Peace and Justice rally in Orlando on October 27. He told the assembled crowd:

"I volunteered to fight in Iraq when I was seventeen years old and three of my best friends died there. The first was burned to death when his tank was hit by a rocket, the second was shot by a sniper, and the third was blown to pieces by an I.E.D. Four years later I stand before you in the name of peace and liberty and I stand with you against the illegal, immoral and unnecessary occupation of Iraq. (Applause)

When I joined the Army, I swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, be they foreign or domestic. To this day I still live by that oath and that is exactly why I am here today, on top of this stage, right now. Every single veteran in this country has a duty to resist this war.

In October of 2003, I was ordered to join the first squadron of the First United States Cavalry Regiment which had been in combat already for five months in Baghdad. When I got there they gave me an M-16 rifle and a bullet-proof vest and in exchange for this, they took from me, my soul and my conscience and for ten months, every single aspect of my humanity. They told me to forget everything that I'd ever known or thought I knew. They told me to shoot first and ask questions later. They told me that if I wanted to survive, I would turn myself into a machine. Well... I wanted to survive, so I turned myself into a machine. I shut my mouth and I shut my ears and my heart and I didn't hear the screaming of the people that died, or the pleading of the women whose husbands we took away in the night, or the motherless children who begged for food and water. It was easy for me to ignore these pretend that they didn't affect me because I was so afraid. I was afraid of dying. I was more afraid of being crippled and even more afraid of what would happen to me if I was ever captured by the enemy and for that purpose I kept an extra bullet in my pocket, this pocket right here, so that I could always blow my own brains out if I ever had to.

By the time I was nineteen I learned that the natural human reaction to fear is hatred, shortly followed by violence because any Iraqi might potentially pose a threat, all were treated as the enemy. And eventually as casualties mounted and families fell apart back home, abusing the Iraqis was seen as a simple matter of revenge, whether it be demolishing their homes with our tanks; handcuffing and publicly beating them in front of their families, destroying their livestock and burning down their places of business, kidnapping entire male populations of villages to be tortured in secret prisons, refusing basic medical care to mothers with dying children, cheering from rooftops while entire apartment complexes filled with people were leveled by C130 gun ships or even covering up the wrongful deaths of local civilians.

Now understand... that I speak not of rumors or of hearsay or of things I've read about. I speak of things I have seen with my own eyes and things I have done with my own two hands. I am GUILTY of these things! Because of our hatred for the Iraqis and our fear and mistrust for our own corrupt and abusive leadership none of the occurrences were ever questioned. They were simply accepted as the way things had to be. And make no mistake... when the American Army or the American Marine Corps rolls into a populated area, they KILL EVERYBODY. It's understood than anybody who's still there is the enemy, and these people are killed wantonly. It happens every day... it's happening right now... and I'm not here to tell you horror stories. I'm not here to shock you because none of these things should come as a surprise to any of us. We've seen it all before throughout history, the countless times we've murdered each other by the thousands and the millions over nothing... absolutely nothing. Whether we're talking about Iraq or Viet Nam, the First World War or even our own Civil War, all of these tragedies, these fool's errors, as I like to call them, they've all had one thing in common, besides fear, hatred and death. All of these things resulted from the same pointless and idiotic logic, the same greed for wealth and power and the same disregard for the sanctity and value for human life...(Applause)

I don't know about you folks, but I for one am getting really sick and tired of being thrown to the goddam lions every time some high-born coward like George Bush or Dick Cheney decides that we need another war. (Applause)

I came here today, along with all of you good people, to send a message to these lying, low-down yellow-bellied c... s...'n cowards in Washington, that the American people are against this stupid war and the American people will not stand for it one f...... day longer. (Applause)

In closing, I want to tell you about a conversation I had with my father just the other day. Now Dad, he was a veteran. He was in the Army back in the sixties, and his dad was a WW2 veteran, so this is not B.S. He said, "History has well proven that the US cannot be defeated from without. It can only be defeated from within." Now these scumbags that are running our country today, have been lying to us for years now and what they tell us is that, "Well it's better to fight 'em over there than over here." well that sounds all pretty well and good doesn't it? But what they've never told us is that the enemy is already here. And that they never came from places like Iraq or Viet Nam or Afghanistan or Russia or anyplace like that, but they were all born and raised right here in the United States... and they all call themselves Presidents and Congressman and Senators and they all live in this sh.... s-hole called Washington D.C... Thank-you all...That's all I've got... (Applause)."

(Thanks to Linda Pollini for sending Clif's speech on to us.)

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