back from Iraq to walk across Utah for peace
WAR AND PEACE: Marshall
Thompson pauses before answering a question about Iraq.
/ Photo by Jason A. Givens
By Jason A. Givens
September 20, 2006 | In an effort to raise awareness
for his dream of bringing U.S. troops home from Iraq,
Marshall Thompson will walk from the top of Utah to
Thompson, a graduate of USU, spoke Tuesday in the
Taggart Student Center's Sunburst Lounge on the USU
campus as part of Civic Awareness Week.
He recently returned home after serving a yearlong
tour of duty in Iraq, where he was editor of a base
newspaper at Camp Anaconda, the U.S. military's largest
installation in Iraq.
Thompson said a "cycle of silence" occurs when people
perceive the majority opinion to be one thing and they
keep the minority opinion silent.
"I think that might be going on in Utah; so far
it seems that way," Thompson said. "I hope
that this walk will break the cycle of silence and that
Utah can show the world, especially the government and
our political leaders, that even Utah supports peace
He shared an experience he had the second month he
was in Iraq. He said he went out with a group of soldiers
who hunted and attempted to destroy roadside bombs.
As they were driving through the Sunni Triangle they
found a culvert running underneath the road that was
packed with explosives. Their equipment showed someone
was attempting to detonate the bomb with a cell phone,
but their equipment was blocking the signal. After some
time they saw a car driving back and forth on a nearby
road. The bomb hunters said that it was probably the
trigger man trying to detonate the bomb.
"I'm ashamed to say this but at that moment I was
scared and I hated that man," Thompson said. "He was
trying to kill me and I took it personally."
He said the bomb was dismantled and they went on their
way, but that night he could not escape the hateful
feelings that had overcome him.
Thompson said he felt his reaction was wrong and asked,
"What is the right decision? What do you do when
you're confronted by the enemy?" He said he learned
the answer in his youth in Sunday school. The answer
is, "Love your enemy," he said.
Thompson, who also served in Kosovo, compared his
experience in Iraq with his experience in the Balkans.
"I was proud to go to Kosovo, we stopped the genocide
over there," he said. While in Kosovo he said he
kept thinking, "Every day I'm here these kids can
go to school safely, every day I'm here the Muslim minority
here can vote, they can live in safety, they're not
being bothered by their neighbors." He said the
six months he spent in Kosovo was time well spent and
that it was a worthy cause. "In Iraq I kept thinking
every day I'm here more people get killed."
Thompson said he finds it hilarious that the same
arguments used by politicians today about Iraq were
being used by politicians about Kosovo. The only difference
is they have been reversed.
"I took an oath," Thompson said in response
to the question of whether he would return to Iraq if
called. "I took an oath to serve my country and
to do what my country decides it needs me to do."
He said it's important to him that now as a citizen,
"I do everything I can to stop this unjust war."
"If I have to go back I fear for my soul," he said.
"I can't let that happen, I can't let that happen to
According to Thompson's Web site (www.asoldierspeace.com),
he will begin walking Oct., 2 and hopes to end at the
Arizona border Oct., 31. His plan is to walk 20 miles
a day for 26 days, one day for every 100 U.S. soldiers
killed in Iraq.
"This walk for peace, I want it to be effective, I
want it to be worth something, I want everybody regardless
of what they believed before, what they feel now, to
realize the need to make peace in Iraq." Thompson said.
"We can all forgive each other and we can all work toward
peace, that's my goal."
Thompson said everyone is invited to walk with him
as long as it is in the cities and on the sidewalks.