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Page 22
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Clarence Fitch Chapter Statement on Vieques

By Dave Cline

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This is the (reconstructed) text of Dave Cline's statement at the Pearl Harbor Day press conference in New York City.

Hello, my name is David Cline. I am a disabled Vietnam veteran. I hold 3 Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star and a Combat Infantryman's Badge. I served with the 25th Infantry Division in Vietnam in 1967. Over the years since my return I have been involved in many veterans causes and am a member of numerous veterans organizations.

Today is the day that all Americans remember Pearl Harbor. And while we remember what President Franklin D. Roosevelt called "a day that will live in infamy," we mourn the loss of the lives of over 2000 brave men and women in the Japanese attack.

And today we have also come to condemn the US Navy's continuing occupation and bombardment of the Puerto Rican island of Vieques. The attack on Pearl Harbor was 58 years ago. That attack lasted less than one day. World War II lasted 4 more years. Ironically the use of Vieques as a bombing range also began in 1941. But for Vieques the bombing never ended. There has been no peace for Vieques, only 58 years of bombs, shells and destruction.

Several weeks ago, several of us went to demonstrations in Jersey City and New York City in support of Vieques. We talked it over and decided to begin organizing a initiative to rally US veterans in support of the struggle on Vieques. We understood what the people there were fighting for. Through our own experiences, many of us have first-hand knowledge of the Pentagon's callous disregard for humans and the environment.

Veterans Support Vieques is made up of US military veterans of all nationalities and races. Puerto Ricans have served bravely and with honor in this nation's wars. All Puerto Ricans are United States citizens. Yet the continued destruction of Vieques and the Navy's continued refusal to leave - despite overwhelming opposition throughout Puerto Rico - shows that the US government regards them as 2nd class citizens. This is totally unacceptable.

We were brothers then and we are brothers again. Today we have Black, Latin, Asian, Native American and White veterans here and we are united. In our group are people who have served in this country's wars in Vietnam and Korea. This brother up here [pointing to George Kelly] served in World War II and Korea. Veterans Support Vieques has issued a statement that veterans throughout the New York-New Jersey metropolitan area are signing daily.

As other speakers have pointed out this movement is not anti-American or against our brothers and sisters in the military. We've been there ourselves. We are speaking out because we know this cause is just. We know that President Clinton's plan will only continue the Navy's occupation and destruction against the will of the people of Vieques and all of Puerto Rico. We will give whatever assistance we can to our brothers and sisters on Vieques who are struggling for justice and dignity.

No More Bombs!
Peace For Vieques!
Get The Navy Out Now!
58 Years Is Long Enough!

Dave Cline is co-coordinator of the Clarence Fitch Chapter (NY/NJ),
and a VVAW national coordinator.

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