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Where We Stand

By Brian Materrese

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"In March of 2008, two hundred and fifty veterans and active-duty soldiers marked the fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq by gathering in Washington, DC, to testify from their own experience about the nature of the occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq. Inspired by the 1971 Winter Soldier Investigation held by Vietnam Veterans Against the War, they too sought to express their opposition to those wars with their first-hand accounts, bearing witness with voices not generally heard. It was chilling, horrifying, and challenging for all who witnessed it." From: www.thisiswherewetakeourstand.com.

(from left to right) Bester Cram, Geoff Millard, Selena Coppa, Jason Washburn and David Zeiger.

On February 1st nearly 40 members of VVAW joined with many others for the premiere of This is Where We Take Our Stand, the documentary of the IVAW Winter Soldier Investigation. Screened at the IFC center in New York City it was a powerful statement on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It is the story of the Winter Soldier Investigation and the events and planning that led up to it. The film begins with scenes from the original Winter Soldier held by VVAW in Detroit in 1971, and gives much credit to VVAW for inspiration and support. Among those in attendance were Frank Toner and Joe Treglio, who worked on the planning and testimony in Detroit. Both expressed the view that the film was both important and successful in bringing the message of all that was wrong with the war and treatment of those in the military and returning veterans.

The film was followed by a question and answer session, which included the directors Bester Cram, David Zeiger, and IVAW members Geoff Millard, Selena Coppa and Jason Washburn. The discussion was both lively and insightful and they gave many actual reasons for the creation of the film. Director Cram had returned from Vietnam and had joined VVAW. Geoff had been in the New York National Guard for 9 years and served in Iraq. Selena was on active duty at the time of her testimony and Jason had served 3 tours with the Marines. Zeiger had previously made the film, Sir, No Sir, a documentary about GI resistance during the Vietnam War.

The film will be appearing on PBS stations and is available on DVD. We encourage all to see it in theaters, and arrange for screenings in your communities. In addition, if enough requests are made to local PBS stations, they will show it. So pick up the phone and give them a call.

Brian Matarrese is a VVAW National Coordinator from New York.

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