Thanks but no thanks

14 Jun

Today, I took part in a demonstration at the Carillon where 100 U.S. Marines laid a wreath to honour the soldiers killed in the last 10 years of the US-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The reason we were demonstrating was not to dishonour the sacrifices our grandparents made in the World Wars but to reject an obvious push for closer military ties between New Zealand and the U.S.

I am yet to be convinced of the benefits of war. It breeds death, despair and destruction and little else. I especially don’t believe in supporting other people’s war for the benefits of creating closer diplomatic ties. We might as well directly trade blood for money.

We were a group of about 20 including members of the Concerned Citizens Collective and Adrian Leason, an activist most well known for puncturing the dome that covered the Waihopai spy base. We wanted to say ‘Thanks, but no thanks’ on behalf of the New Zealand people. “Our presence is to remind them that while we love our grandfathers and respect their contribution to WWII, we oppose much of what the US military has done since. We will not have our grandfather’s sacrifices used to justify more recent wars or to bolster future invasions”, said Murdoch Stephens of Concerned Citizens.

Looking back at my photos from the event, I was struck by the different ways that war can be perceived. To me, this was represented in the people who were there. There were the U.S. Marines and the current serving NZ forces who demonstrated immense pride in their actions. They believe they are fighting the just fight. There were police officers who were responsible for keeping the peace. They were immaculately behaved but completely muted. It was clear that they were not allowed to hold an opinion on this particular occasion. Yet when one of them leant over and whispered to me, “make sure you never delete those photos” I became acutely aware of the fact that they did indeed hold opinions and they may not have been the same as the party line that had to toe while wearing their uniforms.

There was a woman (photographed above) who was deeply hurting. She has clearly suffered from the reality of war. Perhaps she is connected to one of the SAS soldiers that lost their lives late last year. However, as much as she was emotional, she was filled with pride to be there and a part of this event. She wore the medals of a fallen soldier and she held her head high.

However, as much as she was there in support of the Marines, to me she represented everything that is wrong with NZ forming closer military ties with the U.S. She held a pain that will not go away – she has lost someone dear to her who will never return because the NZ Government made a decision to support a war that has nothing to do with us. Forming closer ties militarily with America is only going to lead to more of this pain. Not only will NZ be linked to wars that many of us consider to be unjust and immoral, but more people like this woman will experience the irresolvable pain of losing someone that you love for no reason at all.

Here are some photos from the event:


2 Responses to “Thanks but no thanks”

  1. chem1calburns June 15, 2012 at 3:41 am #

    Thanks for making me cry.


  1. Thanks but no thanks! « Concerned Citizens Collective - June 15, 2012

    […] from ElevenHoursAhead wrote an excellent story with lots of great photos from the morning’s action, where we laid a […]

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