Iraq War Vets React Differently to Local Anti-War Demonstration

By: Tim Ciesco Email
By: Tim Ciesco Email

Dozens of demonstrators held a peace rally and march in Grand Junction Sunday to protest the war in Iraq and a local military weapons supplier.

"To end the war, it's not going to take a vote," said Garett Reppenhagen, a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War. "It's gonna take people like us standing up."

That was the message anti-war demonstrators wanted to send during a peace rally at Lincoln Park and a march that led protesters to military weapons manufacturer Capco's Grand Juction building.

"I think most reasonable people will come to the conclusion that this war is wrong and that it's illegal," said Reppenhagen.

Reppenhagen says he has much more of a vested interest in ending the war than most do. He served in the U.S. Army as a sniper and spent a year in Iraq.

"We were basically seen as occupiers and invaders," said Repphenhagen. "Not peace keepers."

He's not the only one who has negative feelings towards the war.

"I saw civilian death," said Jeff Englehart, a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War. "I saw U.S. soldiers killed in a conflict that I was convinced was unnecessary."

Englehart served in Iraq as a member of the Army calvary. As members of Iraq Veterans Against the War, both he and Reppenhagan spoke at Sunday's rally. They say their group continues to get stronger every day as the war continues.

"I'd say the soldiers are disillusioned with it and are at the point now where they're fed up," said Englehart.

But some soldiers say that's not the case, and that they're upset by anti-war rallies like the one held at Lincoln Park.

"To say that the war was just totally wrong, that's just ignorant people speaking out," said Ray Robinson, an Iraq veteran.

Robinson spent fifteen years in the U.S. Army. During the invasion of Iraq, he was seriously injured and lost his leg. But despite all that, he says the sacrifice was worth it.

"I actually saw people jumping up on full tanks and hugging us and thanking us for their freedom," said Robinson.

During the rally, 4,000 crosses were put up in a field to represent the number of U.S. troops that have died in the war since it began five years ago. It was a move Robinson and others say dishonors those soldiers.

"It sickens me to see that they put up crosses of brothers that have died over there and use it as a rallying point," said Robinson.

He says the rally and march are demeaning to the troops serving overseas right now, and that he hopes people will realize the sacrifices they make will mean something one day.

"The time we spend there is like investing in the future," said Robinson. "The world is going to be safer."

For now both sides agree to disagree, and say they will continue the debate as the war wages on.

Although the demonstrators did not have a permit to march, no one was arrested during the protest at Capco.


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