Monday, January 14, 2008


Today I decided to do something for the troops. Today, my “support” for the troops was undeniably manifest. Today, with one simple act, I lived the change I want to see in the world. Today, I went to Walter Reed Army Medical Center and gave blood for the troops.

A fellow champion of peace and justice and good friend of mine, Mike Marceau was the inspiration for this mission today. Mike is a disabled Vietnam vet, whose life may have been saved by a blood transfusion when a piece of shrapnel pierced his lung, bounced off his rib and lodged in his left shoulder, severely damaging his nerves and arteries when his base in Pleiku was attacked in the spring of 1970.

Mike is the Vice President of the local Veterans For Peace chapter and regularly gives blood at Walter Reed. He attends the weekly vigil at Walter Reed to “remind people that the true cost of the war is right inside that building.” When he came back from Vietnam, Mike himself did a stint at Walter Reed before being medically discharged. I joined Mike to give blood today because I felt it was the right thing to do.

It just so happened that one of the lab techs who was drawing blood recognized me from when I was on TV. He thanked me for what Iraq Veterans Against the War is doing and the perspective we bring to debate about the war. One of his buddies claimed to be “apolitical,” but after the lab tech asked for a business card, he said, “Maybe you could give me a few. You know – for some friends of mine.”

As we were leaving, it occurred to me that “apolitical” is exactly how the war makers want the troops to be. But politics is the sum of civic interactions. Politics is life . . . and death. Being apolitical means ceding your God-given right to self-determination. Just as “being political” and participating in democracy are among our civic duties as American citizens, showing compassion is a duty of all who dream of a world of peace, tolerance, and understanding.

If you can see that humanity is capable of rendering war obsolete, you must feel the need for people to rise above petty self-interests, and reach out to each other. This is just one more way that we can show our appreciation for those who are serving with honorable intentions, for those who would risk their lives to defend our rights, for those who have made themselves ready to make the ultimate sacrifice in defense of their fellow countrymen.

Perhaps eventually, Americans will never be asked to give blood for our wounded warriors ever again. Maybe someday, the sanctity of human life will be so paramount that Walter Reed itself will be unnecessary. Until that day comes, you can show your respect for life by giving blood to the troops that need it now.

If you share this vision with me, go to the Armed Services Blood Program website to find your closest donor center and make an appointment. While you’re donating, tell the people why you’re there. Get a photo of yourself giving blood and send it to me ( with your reason for donating so that we can share this vision with the rest of the world.

There are still troops bleeding every day, and they need our support.