Emmaus grad speaks against war in Iraq
Michael Hoffman spent two months there with Marines.
By Randy Kraft
Of The Morning Call
December 17, 2004
If you have one of those magnetic ”support our troops” ribbons on your car, Michael Hoffman suggests you grab a marker and add a few words: ”Bring them home now.”
Hoffman, who graduated from Emmaus High School in 1997, returned to the school Thursday night to speak out against the war in Iraq.
”Being against the war is the only way to be for the troops,” said Hoffman. ”We’re doing them no good by sending them over there.”
The 25-year-old Marine veteran is a co-founder of Iraq Veterans Against the War, a 5-month-old organization that claims 150 members, including some on active duty in Iraq. It wants the immediate withdrawal of all occupation forces from Iraq, ”real” reconstruction aid for that country and properly funded and administered veterans’ benefits.
”I need to make sure this stops,” he said. ”The honest truth needs to be told in order for this war to end. We’ve got to get these guys home now before another guy is killed on either side.
”This war would be over right now if people really understood the horror of it.”
Like Vietnam, said Hoffman, the only way to end the war will be for millions of Americans to get out on the streets every week and demand that it end.
More than 80 people attended the program, sponsored by the school’s chapter of Amnesty International. Hoffman spoke for nearly 90 minutes, taking questions from the mostly supportive audience for most of that time.
He said the primary reason we’re fighting in Iraq is to get its oil. He maintained the war was never really about finding weapons of mass destruction, capturing Saddam Hussein or establishing democracy.
Hoffman served in Iraq for nearly two months during the invasion last year. He helped aim a battery of 155mm howitzers at targets 10 to15 miles away. He never was told what they were shooting at, only given coordinates. His battery fired about 700 rounds a day, pounding its way across the country.
”Artillery is nameless and faceless,” said Hoffman, adding he’s haunted every day, wondering: ”Who did I kill?” He knows he helped to kill innocent Iraqis.
”We haven’t learned the lessons from Vietnam,” said Hoffman. ”Most of our enemies are average Iraqis fighting back against this occupation. We have violated their sovereignty.”
If another country invaded the United States, bombing and killing innocent women and children who had nothing to do with the war until their lives were taken, ”wouldn’t we all be up in arms defending our country?”
He claimed the majority of troops on the ground in Iraq feel ”we shouldn’t be there. They don’t see the point. We’re not doing any good.” A member of the audience disagreed, saying the military overwhelmingly supported Bush in the last election.
Hoffman said Bush went to war before the military was properly equipped. He said the administration has disregard for people who are willing to serve.
He said American soldiers are fighting only to protect their lives and the lives of their friends because someone is shooting at them.
Hoffman is the son of Rick and Susan Hoffman of Macungie. His father, who videotaped his appearance, said he is proud of his son both because of what he is doing now and because he served in a war he did not believe in.
Michael Hoffman said the United States should not abandon Iraq, but should end the military occupation. He said Iraqis can establish democracy, if they want it and if we ”stop occupying them and trying to do the job for them.”