By Eileen Fleming
“Any nation that year after year continues to raise the Defense budget while cutting social programs to the neediest is a nation approaching spiritual death.” – Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
(BALTIMORE) – The United States Conference of Mayors, representing 1,200 cities with populations over 30,000, voted in their June 20 plenary session to call on the federal government to end America’s wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and redirect that military spending to home land priorities.
The Conference of Mayors first convened during the depths of the Depression and mayors have met annually ever since; but the last time they addressed American military policy was when they called for an end to America’s war in Vietnam.
Mayor Kitty Piercy, of Eugene, Oregon, introduced Resolution 59 stating, “Mayors call on our country to begin the journey of turning war dollars back into peace dollars, of bringing our loved ones home and of focusing our national resources on building security and prosperity here at home. Our children and families long for and call for a real investment in the future of America. It is past due.”
Resolution 59 does not call for immediate withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan, but calls with the “fierce urgency of now” to speed up those efforts as nationwide municipalities face cuts in services that affect all citizens and most especially those in the greatest need.
In 1967 at Riverside Church, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered a sermon and speech, “Beyond Vietnam: Time to Break Silence” and addressed three of America’s demons; racism, materialism and militarism.
King called our government; “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today” and “the war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit.”
Being a person of faith, King knew the power within and that, “there is nothing, except a tragic death wish, to prevent us from reordering our priorities, so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war.”
Among the mayors who comprehend King, is Mayor Dave Norris of Charlottesville, Va., who issued a statement:
“It is our citizens who are being asked to fund these wars with their tax dollars. And it is our communities that struggle when huge sums of money are being diverted from local priorities to military adventurism and ‘nation-building’ activities abroad.
“You might say, it’s time to do some ‘nation-building’ here at home for a change.
“Passage of this resolution puts the U.S. Mayors firmly on the side of a growing bipartisan coalition, whose members include Senate Tea Party Caucus Founder Rand Paul, Congressional Progressive Caucus Founder Bernie Sanders, former Ambassador and current Republican Presidential candidate Jon Huntsman, Democratic Senator Dick Durbin, Republican Senator Mike Lee and many others, who have argued for a quicker drawdown of American fighting forces than the Obama Administration has seemed inclined to support. This position was embraced by 73 percent of Americans in a recent ABC News poll, where strong majorities of Democratic, Independent and Republican respondents alike agreed that we should start bringing substantial numbers of American troops in Afghanistan home to their loved homes as soon as this summer.
“We know that this action alone won’t bring a speedier end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but we certainly hope it will help amplify the growing chorus of support for the effective enshrinement in national policy of Isaiah 2:4, which reads:
And He will judge between the nations,
And will render decisions for many peoples;
And they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not lift up sword against nation,
And never again will they learn war.” 
As read by the parliamentarian, this is the amended resolution passed by the U.S. Conference of Mayors Calling on Congress to redirect military spending to domestic priorities:
— Whereas, every member of the United States Conference of Mayors and the Americans they represent support our brave men and women and their families; and
— Whereas, the drawdown of troops should be done in a measured way that does not destabilize the region and that can accelerate the transfer of responsibility to regional authorities; and
— Whereas, the severity of the ongoing economic crisis has created budget shortfalls at all levels of government and requires us to re-examine our national spending priorities; and
— Whereas, the people of the United States are collectively paying approximately $126 billion per year to wage war in Iraq and Afghanistan; and
— Whereas, 6,024 members of the US armed forces have died in these wars; and at least 120,000 civilians have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan since the coalition attacks began.
–Now, therefore, be it resolved, that the U.S. Conference of Mayors supports efforts to speed up the ending of these wars; and
Be it further resolved, that the U.S. Conference of Mayors calls on the president and the U.S. Congress to end these wars as soon as strategically possible and to bring these war dollars home to meet vital human needs, promote job creation, rebuild our infrastructure, aid municipal and state governments, and develop a new economy based upon renewable, sustainable energy. 
Reverend King knew that the only hope for real change “lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism. The choice is ours, and though we might prefer it otherwise we must choose in this crucial moment of human history.”
The choice is also ours to email -or not- Congress and Obama in support of Resolution 59 @ http://salsa.wiredforchange.com/o/6503/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=4328