Following Tucson’s annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day march on Monday, January 17, 10 people carried Dr. King’s message to nearby Davis–Monthan Air Force Base for a peace vigil to honor his legacy twenty years after the United States began its war against Iraq.
Three men – Dennis DuVall, John Heid, and Jean Boucher – walked into the base with messages for base personnel opposing depleted uranium munitions and armed drones.
They were stopped at the gate by military police who repeatedly asked the men to turn around and leave. When each of them declined, Tucson police were summoned. Duvall, Heid, and Boucher were arrested, taken into custody, and later released on their own recognizance from the Pima County Jail. They have March court dates.
Before walking onto base, Jean Boucher, a 46-year-old border educator and former mechanical engineer from Tucson, said, “I’m frustrated by the war-as-usual aspects of my country. President Obama’s mandate, when he spoke last week in Tucson, that ‘we should do everything we can to make sure this country lives up to our children’s expectations’ compels me to act. I do not believe that constant war lives up to the expectations of our nation’s children.”
Sixty-nine-year-old veteran Dennis DuVall, from Prescott, Arizona, went to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base to deliver a letter to Colonel Randy Inman. Inman is the newly installed commander of the 214th Reconnaissance Group, an Arizona Air National Guard unit that directs Predator drones on combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan from control stations at Davis–Monthan. DuVall’s letter urged Col. Inman to end these military operations and stop bombing the people of Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. He wrote, “Blowing people apart with Hellfire missiles only unites people in outrage and incites more revenge, violence and retaliation. Drone air attacks do not prevent or eliminate terrorism. They are terrorism!… As a veteran, and in the spirit of Martin Luther King, I would welcome the opportunity to enter into a dialog with you and your aircrews. As President Obama said in Tucson just a few days ago, ‘Only an honest discourse and debate’ can honor those who die in senseless acts of violence.”
Tucsonan John Heid, a 56-year-old Quaker and Catholic Worker, also found Obama’s challenge to be an added incentive for anti-war witness to honor the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. He explained, “Already two generations of U.S. and Iraqi children have grown up under war. What kind of legacy is this for the future generations? King’s timeless vision summons us. Now Obama’s recent summons ‘to love’ reinvigorates us. The children of the world are worthy of it. And they are waiting.”
In their statement, the men also said, “Davis-Monthan has played a central role in the use of depleted uranium weapons in Iraq. Today we call upon General William M. Fraser III, Air Combat Command Leadership and Colonel John A. Cherry to comply with the recent United Nations mandate  to reveal the sites where the U.S. has fired depleted uranium shells in Iraq.”
Their full statement and DuVall’s letter appear below.
 http://www.bandepleteduranium.org/en/a/364.html On December 8, 2010, 148 nations supported a United Nations General Assembly resolution calling on state users of depleted uranium weapons to reveal where the weapons have been fired when asked to do so by affected countries. The resolution was passed by a huge majority, with just four countries opposing the text. As with previous U.N. resolutions in 2007 and 2008, the U.K., U.S., Israel and France voted against.
Action Statement, January 17, 2011, Tucson, Arizona
The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy· returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
An entire generation has grown up under the deep darkness of war. Across two decades thousands of U.S. and U.N. soldiers have been killed. Tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians. The wounded are innumerable. The cost immeasurable. The end nowhere in sight.
War is bipartisan. It knows no limits. And takes no sides. Everyone becomes its casualty. Its appetite insatiable. Its destruction total. War is perpetual. It cannot stop itself. “Only love can do that.”
Today, our country commemorates the birth of Nobel Peace laureate Martin Luther King Jr. His words are as timely as the day they were first spoken. They echo across the decades. Clarion and compelling. Today, animated by Dr. King’s words, we walk. Both on Tucson’s public streets and where we are prohibited, at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. We walk under the midday sun, pursuing an end to “a night devoid of stars.”
We are mindful too that January 17 marks the 50th anniversary of President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s farewell speech. We recall his indictment:
“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every missile fired signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense.”
Davis-Monthan has played a central role in the use of depleted uranium weapons in Iraq. Today we call upon General William M. Fraser III, Air Combat Command Leadership and Colonel John A. Cherry to comply with the recent United Nations mandate to reveal the sites where the U.S. has fired depleted uranium shells in Iraq. Today we redouble our twenty year long call for an end to the war. Disarm and disclose!
With a spirit of nonviolence, we carry the U.N. resolution along with our own resolve in seeking the ways of peace to Davis-Monthan, at once both symbol and substance of our nation’s commitment to the use of armed force, spending the hopes of our children. And Iraq’s.
One step at a time we can usher in the light, ending this decades long darkness devoid of stars.
Letter Carried into Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, January 17, 2011
Dear Col. Inman:
At a time when Tucson is mourning senseless violence in its own community, we must also mourn the victims of the U. S drone attacks 7,000 miles away.
Tucson’s complicity in the drone air war is another Tucson tragedy. The tragedy is that Arizona Air National Guard’s 214th Predator Unit here at Davis-Monthan AFB is helping to murder hundreds of innocent people by remote control in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. By guiding “Hellfire” missiles to their targets in homes and villages, ANG’s Predator Unit will typically kill 10-50 innocent people for each targeted victim. Even more tragically for the people of Arizona and aircrews of the 214th Predator Unit, intentional targeted killing is a war crime! No U. S. court has ever ruled on the legality of “targeted assassinations’ by drones.
Col. Inman, I urge you to end the military operations for the 214th Predator Unit and stop bombing the people of Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Blowing people apart with Hellfire missiles only unites people in outrage and incites more revenge, violence and retaliation. Drone air attack do not prevent or eliminate terrorism. They are terrorism! I implore you to ground the 214th Predator Unit and use diplomacy and other nonviolent means for opposing terrorism. As a veteran, and in the spirit of Martin Luther King, I would welcome the opportunity to enter into a dialog with you and your aircrews.
As President Obama said in Tucson just a few days ago, “Only an honest discourse and debate” can honor those who die in senseless acts of violence.
Toward peace and a nonviolent world,
January 17, 2011