This weekend, marking the fifth anniversary of "Shock and Awe", Iraq Veterans Against the War are holding an educational event which they call "Winter Soldier" (see their press release here).
The phrase comes from a passage by Thomas Paine [shown in the portrait at right], the most famous pamphleteer of the first American Revolution -- a passage you can read at the top of my sidebar. As you can see, Paine didn't speak of "winter soldiers" directly, but instead referred to their "opposites": the summer soldier and the sunshine patriot.
Some of the men who fought in the (revolutionary) Continental Army did so on a seasonal basis; they joined in the spring or summer, and left in the fall (to harvest their crops) or in the winter (when the weather turned cold). Many of them re-joined when the weather warmed up again (or after their crops had been planted). For obvious reasons, these men were called "summer soldiers".
Meanwhile, some of the civilians who supported the revolution did so only when it was going well; otherwise they supported the King. These "fair-weather friends" of the revolutionaries were called "sunshine patriots".
So the name "Winter Soldier", like my own nom-de-plume, "Winter Patriot", signifies a deeper commitment than that made by the summer soldiers and the sunshine patriots of Thomas Paine's time.
In 1971, a group of Vietnam veterans, including future Senator and presidential candidate John Kerry, convened in Detroit to describe what they had seen and done that led them to believe their country had committed war crimes in Vietnam. They called their exposition "the Winter Soldier Investigation". It was mostly ignored in the media of the day; a documentary film was made and that was mostly ignored, too. In fact the only aggressive publicity it ever received came in 2004, when its memory was roused to smear Kerry as "unfit for command" while he was "running against" George W. Bush.
Notwithstanding the media suppression of this important historical event; notwithstanding the way in which the anti-war vets were smeared for their efforts; notwithstanding the nauseating sight of John Kerry himself trying to outflank the warmonger on the side of more: more troops and more allies for more War on Terror; the men who came home and told the truth of what they saw and did in Vietnam went above and beyond the call of duty. They served their country in a way which it did not appreciate, and still doesn't. And they are still being smeared.
This weekend, in Silver Spring, MD, veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will testify concerning a new generation of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
It goes without saying that they will be vilified, and in fact the attack dogs are already out in force. But to those who want the truth, they're putting it within reach.
You can watch them on satellite TV or via streaming video on the net. And all the proceedings will be archived for viewing at your convenience.
The event begins at 7PM EDT tonight (Thursday); to get an idea of what to expect, you can watch the following videos:
The IVAW site is busy but that's no surprise; it's the place to be at the moment.