HON. CYNTHIA McKINNEY
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
THURSDAY, APRIL 28, 2005
here for link to speech in Congressional Record)
Ms. McKINNEY. Mr. Speaker, I speak with you today about one of America's
heroes, Sgt. Kevin Benderman. Sgt. Benderman is not a hero because
he served a tour of duty in the Occupation of Iraq, though he did.
He is not a hero because of the medals he was awarded, nor his ten
years of honorable service in the U.S. Army.
No, Sgt. Kevin Benderman is a hero because when all around him are
pressing forward to prosecute a violent war against the people of
Iraq, Kevin Benderman had the courage to stand up and assert his heartfelt
opposition to war.
Sgt. Benderman's opposition is not the theoretical if sincere opposition
of a student peace activist. Kevin Benderman has seen things that
none of God's children should have to endure. He was present when
his superior ordered his unit to open fire on small children who were
throwing rocks at the soldiers of his unit. He chased the hungry dogs
from an open mass grave filled with the bodies of young children,
old men and women. Kevin saw the burned child, crying in pain, while
all around her ignored her injuries.
As he reflected on what he had experienced, he chose to not re-enlist,
to not participate in a war and an institution that he could no longer
square with his evolving yet sincerely held beliefs. But stretched
by an immoral war, based on lies, beyond the limits of the resources
afforded them, our military adopted a ``stop loss order'' policy to
arbitrarily breech the contracts our nation made with those who serve
in its military services.
So Kevin did what was necessary. He applied for Conscientious Objector
status. His officers up the chain of command refused their duty to
accept his application. His commander called him a coward. His unit
chaplain refused to meet with him, writing by email that he was ``ashamed''
of Kevin. He was charged with ``Desertion with Intent to Avoid Hazardous
Duty'' and ``Missing Movement by Design''. His preliminary hearings
methodically violated every precept of substantive due process. He
now faces a Court Martial on May 11 and the possibility of seven years
in the stockade.
Every member of our Armed Forces raises their hands, as do we, and
take an oath, as do we, to ``defend the Constitution of the United
States''. That Constitution protects the ``Right of Conscience'',
including the right to conscientiously object to war as an instrument
of public policy. But given the climate we face right now, asserting
such a right takes real courage. And it is the exercise of that courage
which makes Sgt. Benderman a hero in my book.
It is a crime and a shame that while we are so busy working to expand
freedom to other nations, we can't slow down to protect our precious
freedoms among ourselves.
and Monica Benderman
(Photo Credit: Lewis M. Levine, distributed by www.bendermandefense.org)
Direct Ways You Can Support
Kevin Benderman Today!
Express your support to Kevin and Monica.
If you want your letter entered into the Congressional Record
by Kevin and Monica's Congressional Representative, Cynthia
here. If you just want to write Kevin and Monica privately,
2. Email Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld,
asking what purpose is served by court-martialing Kevin
here to go the Department of Defense Comments website
and then click on the "Ask a Question / Make a Comment"
3. To make a donation to help cover Kevin's
legal defense costs, click on the button below.
those who want their donation to be tax-deductible, click
here to go to the Kevin Benderman C.O. Defense Fund, established
as an affiliated project of the the Traprock
Peace Center in Deerfield, Massachusetts.
by check should be made out to "Kevin Benderman Defense,"
and sent c/o Kevin and Monica Benderman, P.O. Box 2322, Hinesville,
Alternative to Those Yellow "Support Our Troops" Ribbons
one care strongly about the well-being of the men and women in
the deadly combat zones of Iraq while being strongly opposed to
the war they are being forced to fight? You bet.
For the 53
percent of Americans who believe the war in Iraq was not worth
fighting in the first place, the Pro-soldier, Anti-war
message is an alternative to those ubiquitous yellow ribbons.
purchase Pro-Soldier, Anti-War buttons for $2.00 (plus S/H) from
Peace Central, click on the "Add to Cart"
Paypal button below: