WATCH: Veterans Join Lee Calling for Ceasefire to Protect Civilian Lives, Prevent Endless War 

Nov 09, 2023
Press

**FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE**

November 9, 2023 

CONTACT: Emilia Rowland, Emilia.Rowland@mail.house.gov

WATCH: Veterans Join Lee Calling for Ceasefire to Protect Civilian Lives, Prevent Endless War 

“It’s so obvious to me that the politicians who resist ceasefire in the name of security know nothing about war, because anyone who has actually confronted the utter horror and absolute carnage, of shock waves rippling through their bodies as mothers scream as dust settles around mangled bodies, knows how absurd it is to believe that security can be created through violence,” said Brittany Ramos de Barrows, a former army captain and combat veteran

(Washington DC) – Today US Congresswoman Summer Lee (PA-12)  joined a group of Veterans from FACE – (insert description), Rep. Cori Bush (MO-1), Rep. Delia Ramirez, demanding that members of Congress and veterans learn the mistakes from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and push for a ceasefire. 

Watch the full press conference here. View full audio transcript here

Watch the full press conference here.

Congresswoman Summer Lee’s Remarks:

Good afternoon, I’m Summer Lee and I’m proud to stand here today with my courageous sisters in service Congresswomen Cori Bush and Delia Ramirez and 12 of our colleagues for their clear-eyed pursuit for peace. To About Face and all the proud veterans we have here today who can speak more truly than anyone about the realities of war – and why we must do everything humanly possible as a Congress and country to avoid it, to move toward a just and lasting peace, and to demand a ceasefire now.

This Saturday is my first Veterans Day as a Congresswoman – and as we reflect on the sacrifices that these vets standing beside me and so many others have made, we are once again watching our nation’s leaders throw itself ten toes deep into another catastrophic war that has no visible endpoint or strategy – but the costs have been made abundantly clear to everyone of us.

Since Hamas murdered 1,400 innocent Israelis one month ago, nobody has questioned that Hamas must be held accountable. But let’s be clear: it is innocent Palestinian civilians that are paying the price. Israeli airstrikes, the ground invasion, and forced starvation and dehydration has killed over 10,000 innocent Palestinians–including more than 4300 children. Reports from the Israeli military indicate that they have successfully targeted just 60+ Hamas operatives – that means that the Israeli military has had a civilian casualty rate of over 99%.

99%. 99% of the people who have been killed were civilians. They were mothers, fathers and grandparents, hospital workers, peacekeepers, teachers, community members, and babies. People who are seeking refuge in churches and schools, transported by ambulances.

We can’t afford to make the same mistakes that we made after 9/11. Entering two endless wars for decades, with no success, and all we had to show for it was an even more unstable Middle East and the loss of 4.5 million lives – including 7,000 service members.

There will always be people who find war-mongering profitable – be it politically or financially – but that’s not what the majority of people in this country or the world want. They want a just and lasting peace in Palestine and Israel. They are demanding that our country change its course in unconditionally supporting a war on Palestinian children. 

We, the people, are not fringe. We, the people, are the majority. We are the UN, Amnesty International, Doctors Without Borders, veterans, the Pope, clergy, Rabbis, Imams, government leaders around the world, and millions of everyday people who have called for a ceasefire to end this humanitarian catastrophe, and work towards a just and lasting peace. 

And we must listen to the people closest to the pain – that means listening to Palestinians on the ground who cry for us to protect their innocent lives, to the Israelis protesting the Netanyahu government for its war-mongering, to the only Palestinian woman in Congress instead of silencing her and burying her perspective… and to these veterans who know better than anyone what war entails when they tell us we must demand a ceasefire. We have to listen to them when they recount the atrocities of war..atrocities that they want no person to live through again. 

We are our nation’s pro-peace movement – all of us who seek to build a future where defense means investing in our communities’ healthcare, housing, education, and jobs. Not lining the pockets of defense contractors who seek to profit off our veterans’ suffering. And we are the majority. 

Building that future starts right now – by demanding a ceasefire to end this cycle of violence that has no military solution. Peace is attainable if we don’t fall for the facade of war and destruction as a resolution. 

Thank you to the veterans who welcomed me here today and I want to thank them for their bravery and staying clear-eyed from the fog of war to demand a ceasefire now. Thank y’all.

Lee was joined by veterans from About Face who had served in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and warned about the cost of another endless war.

Former marine officer Lyle Jeremy Rubin cited the hymn Go Down Moses, saying, “‘When Israel was in Egypt land, Let my people go. Go down Moses, way down in Egypt land tell old Pharaoh to let my people go. Since childhood, I’ve heard these words from one Passover Seder to the next. My great uncle and aunt have hosted the Seder for decades, and they have always gone out of their way to connect our people’s story of oppression and liberation to that of others .But it wasn’t until I joined the Marines not long after 911 and helped enforce the military occupation of Afghanistan in 2010 that I came to real realize the wider importance of that spiritual. When I developed lethal targeting packages for strangers on a safe intelligence watch floor I knew I wasn’t playing the part of Moses. When I accompanied my Marines on ARM foot patrols, where we menacingly paced to the fields of frightened farmers. I knew I wasn’t on the side of liberation. And the more I possibly participated in the violent policing of desert hamlets, the more I felt like another Pharaoh. Today I stand here with every fiber in my being to insist that the ongoing bloodshed in Gaza and the West Bank will not bring anyone emancipation.”

Brittany Ramos de Barrows, a former army captain and combat veteran said, “I deployed to a war in Afghanistan believing that I was going to eradicate the threat as politicians like to say and improve security both for Afghans and for my own people here in the United States. What I actually did was participate in a war that killed 10s of 1000s of people and further destabilize a country that continues to suffer today. Today, it’s so obvious to me that the politicians who resist ceasefire in the name of security know nothing about war, because anyone who has any humanity left in them, and that’s actually confronted the utter horror and absolute carnage, of shock waves rippling through their bodies as mothers scream as dust settles around mangled bodies, knows how absurd it is to believe that security can be created through violence.”

Disabled Veteran Arti Walker-Peddakolta said “I saw bodies with heads blown off, skins come completely burnt intestines coming out of heads, rotting flesh turn green and blue and bullets in every imaginable place, and bodies so badly traumatized that there was nothing remaining to identify them As a result of what I bore witness to, I receive a disability from the VA for anxiety and depression.So the question I have for the Congress people is, if you care about the trauma that veterans face, as you should, shy do you not care about the trauma that Palestinians are facing too?”

Army veteran Ramón Meija said, “In 2003, I participated in the US invasion of Iraq. I witnessed the Havoc us bullets and bombs waged on people in the land effects still to this day. We were told that our actions were to free the Iraqi people from tyranny. But all I saw was the enormous human social, economic and environmental toll that war and occupation brought. Hundreds of 1000s of Iraqis were killed in an illegal war began with lies by millions more were maimed and injured. reverberating effects of work continued to kill and sick and countless people to this day. I live with the knowledge that my actions contributed to the destruction of life, as a result of which has led to the people of Iraq having the highest quote the highest rate of genetic damage. Of any population ever studied. These are the actions being perpetrated now against the people of Gaza against innocent civilians. And children as they are pulled from the rubble of us funded us built Israeli dropped bombs”

Earlier this month, Rep. Summer Lee demanded an end to the era of “Money for War but not Food for the Poor” by highlighting the cost of the United States’ misguided post-9/11 wars and the GOP weapons transfer bill that would also protect tax cheats.

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