On Monday, May 1, Secure Families Initiative hosted a live conversation with activist and organizer Nancy Lessin, the co-founder of Military Families Speak Out.
The wide-ranging discussion reflected on what it was like to be a military parent during the initial Iraq invasion, organizing military family members, and the legacy of activism in our community.
Anniversary of “Mission Accomplished” Speech
In October 2002, Congress passed the Authorization for Military Force in Iraq and the US invasion began in March of 2003. The Facebook Live conversation was planned to coincide with the twentieth anniversary of the infamous “Mission Accomplished” speech. On May 1, 2003 President George W. Bush declared “mission accomplished” in Iraq during a press conference on the US Navy aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln. He stated, “Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.”
The Iraq war resulted in the loss of over 200,000 Iraqis civilians, 4,500 U.S. servicemembers and 3,650 U.S. contractors. More than 32,000 U.S. service members were injured. As of March 2023, about 2,500 troops remain. In 2023, Brown University’s Costs of War Project estimated that the taxpayer bill for post-9/11 U.S. wars reached $8 trillion, representing a profound diversion from civilian spending.
Military Families Speak Out
In 2002, Nancy founded Military Families Speak Out (MFSO) with her late husband, Charlie Richardson, and another military parent, Jeffrey McKenzie. Nancy’s son was a Marine who, at the time, had already served in Kosovo and Afghanistan. MFSO organized military family members in opposition to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, a war they believe was unjust. They continue to advocate to advocate for all U.S. troops to leave Iraq and Afghanistan and speak out against unjust military interventions. Like SFI, MFSO advocates for repeal of the 2002 Iraq Authorization for Use of Military Force.
SFI Facebook Live with Nancy Lessin
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