Pleasanton Weekly

Column - September 24, 2010

After 4 years of effort, wars still go on

by Jeb Bing

Just a day after nine U.S. troops were killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan and two weeks after learning that a Livermore soldier had died from wounds received two years ago in Iraq, peace activist Fred Norman was at the Pleasanton City Council meeting Tuesday again asking that it "do something" about these wars. A leader along with Councilman Matt Sullivan in the Pleasantonians 4 Peace group that holds twice-monthly vigils and anti-war protests in downtown Pleasanton, Norman said Tuesday marked the fourth anniversary of his regular appearances at council meetings where he asks the same question: "Why won't you do something?"

Norman is a retired Marine and Air Force enlisted man who over the years has soured on military actions in other countries. He remembers a time when his bomber squadron was rushed into duty because Russian planes were detected heading our way. As his nuclear armed unit headed east with its payload, the alert was cancelled and Norman and his unit turned around and returned to base. That and other issues along the way made him doubt the information the military and government gives to the public, a doubt that continues this day.

Norman believes local government holds more weight with Washington than pro-war or anti-war politicians and pundits. He told the council again Tuesday that he's always hoped that it "would think of something that would lead other city councils across the country to join in and lead the decision-makers in Washington to realize that there are people in this country who are against these wars."

Norman said that during the last four years that he has been speaking against the wars before the Pleasanton council, 1,700 American troops died in Iraq and another 1,000 have now died in Afghanistan. And during those four years, he said the council has refused to try to do anything to stop these wars.

"I'm not sure why," Norman said. "Maybe it's because of elections, that if you oppose the war, maybe people won't vote for you. Maybe it's because you support these wars. If so, your lack of action makes sense. Maybe it's because you believe it's not a Pleasanton issue even though we have Pleasanton citizens on active duty over there right now. Maybe it's because you don't know what to do."

Norman said the council could take some action, either adopting a resolution opposing the war or holding a public forum to discuss the war and how Pleasanton should respond, as Mayor Jennifer Hosterman and Sullivan have suggested. But always lacking majority support when those proposals were made, the plan never came to a vote.

"It could happen, but it won't," Norman lamented. "The war will continue; many more Americans will die. And city councils all across this nation will do nothing."

Why does Norman keep going to the Tuesday night council meetings with the same request when all he hears in return is a "thanks for coming?"

"Well, as a stubborn old Marine when I first asked you to do something four years ago, your refusal made me so angry I vowed to continue doing this as long as I live," he told the council. "I'm not dead yet so you can expect me to be here again."

Pleasantonians 4 Peace sponsor candlelight vigils at 7 p.m. on the second Wednesdays of the month in front of the Museum On Main, 603 Main St., and hosts a Peaceful War Protest from 5-6 p.m. on the fourth Wednesdays of the month at the corner of First and Neal streets. Call Cathe at 462-7495, e-mail Matt at, or visit for more information.


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