A father's view of Iraq..

Discussion in 'Middle East - General' started by bamthin, Jan 8, 2004.

  1. bamthin

    bamthin Guest

    Father speaks of son's death in Iraq

    By: ERIKA AYN FINCH - For the North County Times

    CARLSBAD ---- Fernando Suarez del Solar stood in front of an audience that hung on his every word Wednesday night at the Pilgrim United Church of Christ in Carlsbad.

    Through an interpreter and sometimes speaking in English with a heavy accent, the Escondido resident discussed his recent trip to Iraq and the death of his 20-year-old son, Lance Cpl. Jesus Alberto Suarez del Solar.

    Suarez del Solar spoke to about 40 people during a meeting of the North County Coalition for Peace and Justice. He showed a video and pictures he shot during his trip to Iraq from Dec. 1 to 8. He told stories about the children he met and the faces of the soldiers in the streets of Baghdad.

    "When we walked through the streets a curious group formed," Suarez del Solar said. "When we told them we were on a mission of peace, they welcomed us and shook our hands. It was a beautiful experience."

    Suarez del Solar said he made the pilgrimage because he wanted to visit the place where his son was killed by a cluster bomb March 27. He said the government initially lied to him about his son's death so he traveled to the country to "gather more truth."

    "But I changed the reason for my trip," he said. "I recalled the words my son told me. He said, 'tell me about the lies Bush told to create this war but I know the main reason is the children of Iraq.'"

    One of the most poignant moments of the evening came when Suarez del Solar told a story about those children. He showed a picture of himself and several Iraqi youngsters. In the photo, Suarez del Solar has tears in his eyes. He said the children were selling bananas on the streets but when he tried to buy the bananas, they refused his money. They gave him the bananas and all they asked for in return was a copy of the photograph.

    "These children lost their parents in a bomb in a residential area that had no military," Suarez del Solar said. "Now they live in the shell of a burned out building like rats."

    Wednesday night was not the first time Suarez del Solar spoke in front of the coalition. He spoke to the group during a meeting last year as well. Shelli Hallidy, coalition coordinator, said it was important to have speakers such as Suarez del Solar to educate people on the truth about the war.

    "He has been to Iraq, he can give us info on what is really going on in the country," Hallidy said. "We have created such a loss to the Iraqi people and our own men and women. The devastation we have caused is unnecessary. Fernando carries a message of peace and the loss of a parent."

    The North County Coalition for Peace and Justice formed in October 2002 as a way to protest the inevitable war against Iraq. They have participated in peaceful protests and demonstrations and created a traveling Iraq memorial to commemorate the soldiers who have died in the war.

    Jim Brown, a member of the San Diego chapter of Veterans for Peace, also attended the meeting. Brown said his organization, which is comprised of veterans of all branches of the military, also seeks to educate people on the realities of war.

    "What better person to talk about the real cost of war than someone who lost his son," Brown said.

    Suarez del Solar said he was always against the war, even before his son's death. Aside from visiting Iraq, he has spent time lobbying Congress and the United Nations to pull troops out of the country. He said his goal is to remove all American and English troops from the streets of Baghdad.

    But Suarez del Solar said his experiences last month actually brought him a bit more peace. He said he was surprised to find Baghdad a bustling city with traffic, open businesses and people on the streets. Before speaking to the coalition members, his eyes grew misty as he talked about finding the location where his son perished.

    "I felt better when I found the place," Suarez del Solar said. "I put a cross in the ground. I also saw the children in the schools and hospitals and I know my son had a personal mission ---- to help the children. He died for the children, not the government."



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