I am so elated to know that my fellow colleagues/students in Sunderland, England and my family and friends in Scotland will be sleeping out for the cause. We have had considerable interest and excitement surrounding the issue of violence, especially domestic violence. This issue has gripped not only our nation, but the world.
I was reading the number of American tragedies in Iraq and the numbers are over 4000 for troops that we have lost since the war started in 2003. This violence is the kind of violence that comes into our homes and affects our families. Our soldiers are seeing some horrible things and have to bring those memories back home. For instance, my cousin Jason, died in Tikrit a couple of years ago. He was under 21 when he was blown up by a road side bomb. The military would not allow the casket to be opened during his service. The effect that this has had on our family is nothing short of devastating. We must do something differently if we expect a different result. War is not the answer. We are not defending ourselves. We are perpetuating the violence that we say we want to end. We are igniting and fueling others' agendas of violence. We must lead by example as a country with so much power. The world is watching and listening.
During our first sleep out, a young woman brought her children down to give us some chairs, soup, juices and granola bars. She did not even know who we were. That really makes me feel good about what we are doing. She took a proactive step in perpetuating peace. We need to follow this woman's footsteps. She is teaching her children the right things. Her husband is also in Iraq. While one family member is fighting to defend our freedom at home and abroad, one is spreading the message that peace is the alternative. Let's bring our troops home so that they can join the peace mission without having to be in the kind of danger they are in. I wish a happy and safe return home for all troops, including those from other countries.
As we move forward with our international peace movement, let's remember those who have fallen due to violence. Let's support those who suffer and survive today. They live to tell their stories and some have not opened up to tell their stories. Let's be strong in order to pass that strength along to them.
Good luck Sunderland and Scotland. My heart is with you and my prayers are with you. I really appreciate what you are doing and I know I could not be more thankful and my family and friends are thankful as well.
Til next time.