By Michael Kramer
More than 200 Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) supporters attended a preliminary Winter Soldier hearing Feb. 21 at the New York Society for Ethical Culture in Manhattan.
The local event was successful in building momentum for the national Winter Soldier 2008 hearings, scheduled for March 13-16 at the AFL-CIO affiliated National Labor College in the Washington, D.C., suburb of Silver Spring, Md.
Winter Soldier will feature testimony from U.S. veterans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan and will expose the criminal nature of both wars.
The political unity of military veterans from different generations was in evidence as IVAW, Vietnam Veterans Against the War and Veterans For Peace shared the stage and program.
Bill Perry, who testified at the original Winter Soldier hearings in 1971, described the war crimes he witnessed while serving with 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam. Fernando Braga told about the anti-Arab racism that was part of his pre-Iraq deployment training at Fort Dix, N.J., while a member of the New York Army National Guard.
IVAW member and war resister Ryan Johnson was able to take part in the program from Canada via a live video feed. He is a member of the Winter Soldier Organizing Committee and described the situation of more than 50 absent without leave war resisters in Canada as they courageously struggle for human rights and against deportation. There is now an IVAW chapter in Toronto.
More ominously for the Bush administration and Pentagon generals, an IVAW chapter has recently been formed on the Fort Hood, Texas, army megabase. This base has more than 33,000 residents and is home to the 1st Cavalry Division and 4th Infantry Division.