Reflections on the SOA Vigil

This year was my first time attending the SOA Vigil. I had studied the school and the atrocities of its graduates in school and I had friends go down to the Vigil before and had heard their stories, but I had never been there first hand. I had never seen the puppetistas up close, or been a part of thousands gathered to stand up for the oppressed and murdered. I am so thankful to have been able to share this experience with my growing family here at CRLN.




About 40 people participated in the CRLN delegation down to Ft. Benning. What an awesome, active, inspired group of people! From first-timers like myself, to those who have gone for years, to former prisoners of conscience, we had one of the most diverse groups that I encountered at the Vigil. We were able to learn from one another's experiences and new realizations. From the laughs at Country's Barbeque to the tears shed as the names of anonymous children were chanted, our groups came together to share our frustrations and celebrate our triumphs. Facing the massive wall of crosses, each symbolizing someone who died at the hands of SOA graduates, was not as tragic as it might have been because I know of a group of people, right here in Chicago, that are working to right those wrongs.



I encourage each and every one of you reading this to consider attending the Vigil next year with CRLN. Whether it will be your first or twentieth time, I can guarantee you that you will be inspired to action, not just by the Vigil itself, but by those with whom you will share that experience.



If your Congressperson is not currently a co-sponsor of HR 2567, the bill to close the SOA/WHINSEC, call them today!



If you don't know who your Members of Congress are, go to and type in your zip code to find out or give us a call at 773-293-2964. Below is a list of IL Members of Congress, their foreign policy staffers and their phone numbers. When you call, ask to speak to the foreign policy aide. If he or she is not available, leave a voicemail message.



Bobby Rush (D-1st) - Speak with Angelle Kwemo, 202-225-4372

Jesse Jackson (D-2nd) - Speak with Charles Dujon, 202-225-0773

Dan Lipinski (D-3rd) - Speak with Eric Lausten, 202-225-5701

Luis Gutierrez (D-4th) - Speak with Evelyn Rodriguez, 202-225-8303

Mike Quigley (D-5th) - Speak with Robyn Russell, 202-225-4061

Peter Roskam (R-6th) - Speak with Brigitta Johnson, 202-225-4561

Danny Davis (D-7th) - Speak with Caleb Gilchrist, 202-225-5006

Melissa Bean (D-8th) - Speak with Liz Jurinka, 202-225-3711

Jan Schakowsky (D-9th­) - Speak with Nina Besser, 202-225-2111

Mark Kirk (R-10th) - Speak with Jeffrey Phillips, 202-225-4835

Debbie Halvorson (D-11th) - Speak with Justin Cajindos, 202-225-3635

Jerry Costello (D-12th) - Speak with Katie Stonewater, 202-225-5661

Judy Biggert (R-13th) - Speak with Griffin Foster, 202-225-3515

Bill Foster (D-14th) - Speak with Peter Judge, 202-225-2976

Timothy Johnson (R-15th) - Speak with Jen Mascho, 202-225-2371

Donald Manzullo (R-16th) - Speak with Nien Su, 202-225-5676

Phil Hare (D-17th) ­- Speak with Kemi Jemilohun, 202-225-5905

Aaron Schock (R-18th) - Speak with Steve Shearer, 202-225-6201

John Shimkus (R-19th) - Speak with Greta Joynes, 202-225-5271