Students respond to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan

Students respond to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan

Hafsa Mohammed speaks about predjudice that has come as a result of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Jessie Stancliff

Students were given a chance to voice their opinions on Iraq.

The idea came about four years ago when some faculty met to discuss the war, and a faculty member raised his hand and commented that it would be great if they could hear from the students.

There were seven students that chose to speak and give their thoughts on the war. Some were war veterans, some had family in the war, and some had boyfriends and husbands in the war.

The students that spoke were Mike Mejia, Andrenette Cooper, Nicole Hardin, Keith Harmon, Melina Bustos, Hafsa Mohammed, David Varvel, Autumn Hayes, and Alex Blanco. Some audience members made comments as well as Mesa student Nicole Hardin wrote a poem titled “In the Land of the Free, Home of the Brave,” which gave her opinion about what we are really fighting for.

David Varvel gave a speech saying, “It is easy for us to get disconnected.”

Meaning it is easy for us to feel like the war is outside of us. He also commented, that when our troops come home we need to provide a nice environment for them to return to. “What we say and think matters,” said Varvel.

He told students to write their congressman and let them know how they feel about the war. He also said sometimes we forget that we have the power, we vote these people in and out of office. He ended by saying, “Each of us has the responsibility to do something.”

Melina Bustos married a sailor and described how it affects her when the man she loves is not around. Student Autumn Hayes expressed how the war affected her through art with a drawing titled “Who’s touching who.” She concluded by saying, “While we are busy fighting a war on terrorism, we ourselves have become terrorists.”

Alex Blanco, who is a war veteran and was in Iraq in 2003, gave one of the most emotional testimonies. They were told they were going to Iraq to liberate the country from their dictator. He said in the beginning when they arrived the people where nice and glad to have them in their country.

As they moved north, some people became more rude and this is when he remembered the promises he had made to the families back home that he would keep his fellow comrades safe and return them home alive. They were commanded to “shoot any Iraqi that tries to fight or looks threatening.” He ended up having to shoot and kill an 8-year-old girl who picked up her dad’s gun after he was shot to the ground.

Alex remembered the promises he made to the people at home and did not want to lose a comrade and had to shoot. “I have to live with that for the rest of my life,” says Alex. “Now every time I look at my own daughter I think of that young girl in Iraq.

Blanco also mentioned how he is sick of hearing people complain about high insurance, or the shoes they are wearing because there are much larger problems going on.

Scott Gengelbach did some of the art pieces displayed. One piece was titled

“We reap what we sow.” Kristen Care drawing was titled “9:05 a.m.” and Chris Toombs had a drawing titled “Ride the Bomb” saying military physicians over-medicate our troops and vets. Someone from the audience read a poem titled “Green Grass” and said we only care about our “grass.” Two men are fighting, who gets hurt? The grass.

Everyone had very different and interesting things to say. Like Varvel said, “We need to create a positive and caring environment for our troops to come back to.”