A former Marine and Iraq War veteran came to the Old Chapel on March 13 and told students, “I don’t support the troops.”Liam Madden, a 22-year-old veteran, discussed how by saying, “support our troops,” politicians are spitting in our faces and insulting our intelligence because Congress has the power of the purse and the ability to defund an undeclared war.
Even by supporting the soldier, you support what he is doing, Madden said.
During his speech, Madden did not mention that as a Marine he made sergeant during his four years of service. He has only been out of the military since Jan. 22 — and one week after his discharge, he began a national speaking tour.
He said that when he arrived home from Iraq, the last thing he wanted to do was get out on the road.
“I’m not a speaker,” the Bellows Falls native said and added, “I can’t do nothing.”
But he and other soldiers began and signed an “Appeal for Redress” to end the occupation in Iraq. Currently, he has 1,700 signatures.
While in Iraq, he said he did not speak out against war because he, like many other soldiers, feel that they are just doing their job and putting in their time because they agreed to sign up.
“I didn’t fight the war because I was brave,” he added.
Wearing a black and white shirt that read, “IRAQ VETERAN AGAINST WAR,” Madden emphasized the importance of college students and change throughout history. He said that we need to become a people-oriented society and change the “me” mentality to an “us” view because the world we live in is shaped for us currently.
One audience member asked Madden how students could get motivated when there is a fear of police presence and personal danger from protests.
“People make sacrifices when current culture makes that possible,” said Madden, who appeared in Rutland in November.
He added that until it is cool to care, nothing will get done, and he asked the audience how to make it cool?
Communications professor Tom Conroy helped bring Madden to Castleton following an e-mail from Professor Carrie Waara and publicity about the Appeal for Redress on National Public Radio.
Conroy said many students know someone in Iraq and Madden is a Vermonter, and even went to high school with some of the students in the audience. He has spoken at University of California campuses, Rutgers University, and the University of Vermont among many other schools and is playing a part in history with his appeal for redress.
Conroy said that Madden’s speech was powerful because of intergenerational communication, and it is more effective for students to hear from a peer.
“He had a good sense of history and emphasized that,” Conroy said.
He also said that it is important for people to make personal contacts with other activists.
Madden is trying to establish a network across the country and took contact information from Castleton with the help of Matt Kimball, Reel Action president. He is continuing his tour with a visit to Washington, D.C. among countless other stops.