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How did your life collide with the headlines in 2007?
Iraq, the subprime crisis, Facebook, immigration, oil prices - 2007 had no shortage of hefty headlines. We'd like to hear about how these and other major news events of the past year affected you. Where did your life collide with the news in 2007?

What's your holiday performance story?
The office talent show, the neighborhood caroling posse, the school pageant ... At holiday time we often sing, dance, and dress as shepherds. Did you bloom in the warmth of your audience's adulation, or freeze up like the snowman you'd rather be building? Did your holiday performance change your life or that of someone close to you?

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Sgt. Kevin Benderman, Conscientious Objector
Sergeant Kevin Benderman was supposed to be on a plane with his unit bound for Iraq on January 7 for what was going to be his second deployment to the war. But when the day came he had to follow his conscience. We were the first to hear Benderman say that "he refused to go to Iraq." Our coverage has sparked a great deal of reaction. We've stayed with the story, and will continue to do so. Sergeant Benderman faces a general court martial on May 12th. Audience responses to our interview with Sgt. Kevin Benderman

We received over 100 emails in regards to this story, which struck a cord with many Weekend America listeners.

"Just heard part of the interview with Kevin Benderman. It touched me deeply....that he is listening to his heart and his conscience over this matter....and potentially risking a lot."
   -- Wyoma, Boston, MA

"Benderman, and indeed anyone voluntarily serving in the military, does not have the option of doing what he thinks is right. He enlisted and therefore agreed to obey the orders of his superiors. There is no place on enlistment papers that give one the option to decide not to make a troop movement if it's inconvenient. The sergeant should be court martialed, given twenty years at hard labor, reduced in rank with forfeiture of pay and allowances. This is especially pertinent in light of the recent excessive punishments meted out to the prison guards and the transportation detachment that armored their vehicles."
   -- Richard Altemus, Burton, OH

"It takes a great deal of courage to act on your beliefs. I happen to agree completely with his view on war, particularly regarding the assault on our earth. Even if I disagreed, I would admire his willingness to stand up for his beliefs. If only some of our political figures would show the same statesmanship"
   -- Kat Koher, Maiden Rock, WI

"I am a Veteran of the first Gulf War. There wasn't that much carnage when I was there, but what I did see has left a lasting impression on me. I can understand what Sgt. Benderman is going through and I applaud him for standing up for his morals and convictions.

However, this is not the most opportune time to do this. When he signed up for the Military he knew that life would not always be a cake walk. Being a Sergeant he has a moral obligation and an awesome responsibility to look out for those soldiers in his squad or platoon. These people are his second family and with him gone there is a hole there. And now his actions has most likely raised doubt in the minds of others, and that doubt can be deadly. I truly hope he has considered these consequences as well."
   -- Tom Archer, Canton, OH

"I was moved by Sgt. Benderman's story. Here is an individual who is perceiving reality: the unspeakable horror an immorality of war, further compounded in this case by being a war of choice."
   -- John Yellin, Boston, MA

"I appreciated hearing the emotional and ethical struggle of a soldier who obviously has served his country in the past."
   -- Lea Schuster, Minneapolis, MN

"I totally agree with K. Benderman's feelings and opinions about the war in Iraq, and commend him for refusing to participate anymore in an immoral activity that has shown the Bush administration for what it is - selfishly and politically concerned only with their own and our country's business interests. In our new post-9/11, "patriotic" era, it takes courage to do what he has done, especially with an administration that will probably try to make and example of him. I wish him well."
   -- Rose Balazs, Geauga, OH

"I heard your interview with the Sgt. and his wife. I do not think he should be court martialed. I think if the military is voluntary so should the mission. My son was in Iraq with the 3rd Infantry, FT Stewart and now in Korea. I personally pray every night he does not get ordered to go back to Iraq and he has stated, he didn't know if he himself could do another tour. I believe the ones who are punishing the Sgt. should be glad a soldier honestly states he could not serve in those conditions rather than sending him over there and not doing 100%. I wish him luck and I do understand his decision. I think the Army is wrong for his choice and the punishment is to harsh. I will keep him in my thoughts."
   -- Signed Gail (Army Mom), Rancho Cucamonga, CA

"I applaud Sergeant Benderman's decision. How brave of him to take this stand. And how proud his children and family must be of him.

I believe that war is not the answer, and I believe that our troops should be defending our country and our obligations to the UN, NATO and other world organizations that we are pledged to defend or support. How much more helpful to have those soldiers in Iraq helping the relief efforts in the countries in the Indian Ocean.

And why would the US Military want to have a soldier working for them if he/she didn't believe in what he/she was doing? I hope that he is able to reconcile this soon."
   -- Kate Diehl, Sacramento, CA

"It is through soldiers like Kevin that we learn the most about war. Kevin will be on a very difficult path now that he has become a conscientious objector. The easiest path is to follow blindly, not ask questions, risk death or return home with a lifetime and debilitating moral struggle. As a conscientious objector, Kevin has a far better chance at maintaining his mental health. May his decision help other soldiers question the morality of war. And I am hoping with more soldiers becoming conscientious objectors, our society will realize that 'war is not the answer'. Kevin, you are a very brave human being! "
   -- Judith Gengler, Rehoboth, MA

"In my eyes, this man is a hero, even more so than a soldier who goes to Iraq with doubts about the mission. The champlain of whom he spoke sounds like a coward.

I was a C.O. during Vietnam and refused induction into the Army. Has history not shown that it was correct to protest the pointless death and destruction we rained on the Vietnamese? Here we are, a generation later, involved in a war based on a false premise and squashing dissent. Sounds too familiar."
   -- Bob Barron

"I was listening to your program today about Sgt. Benderman and his decision to not redeploy to Iraq. I support his decision and wish that more of his fellow soldiers would think about why we are there and why American kids are dying and being disabled. I have asked many people who support the Administration why they think we invaded Iraq. I have been surprised with the answers that vary from controlling the oil to kicking ass and showing the Arabs who is tough. I then ask them if they are willing to sacrifice their children or grand children for this effort, because every one of the kids who have been killed is someone's grand child. War can sometimes be legitimate, if we are defending an attack, but this adventure is strictly an act of choice. We have done nothing to make the United States safer and have created many more people who dislike our policies. Iraq is not a video game and more of the people we send there should think and evaluate why and whether they want to be in Iraq."
   -- Shari Larsen

"As an active duty sailor I can both understand and not even comprehend the battlefield. I think it's upsetting that some people would be honored to serve in Iraq while others are being asked to serve 2 tour of duties. I probably never could begin to comprehend the battlefield but at the same time I am fully aware that I signed up for service and someday may make the ultimate sacrifice.

Yes, I too have had doubts about what war is and could probably some day be labeled an anti-war sailor, but I know what I have signed up for. It seems odd that he all of a sudden has had a change of moral and ethical beliefs days before being deployed. He knew what he was getting into when he joined up. Now he is trying to play all angles to get out of it. Including contacting the media and his congress person before going through the proper channels.

This is a flagrant violation of good order and discipline in the armed services and he is well aware of this. I hope that he gets the entire UCMJ thrown at him."
   -- anonymous, San Diego, CA

"I served in the Korea during bad times and apparently with a unit, and an army that while engaged in killing was more supportive than what is being selfishly controlled today by those who really care not about soldiers' lives.

I support Sgt. Benderman's decision not to go back to Iraq. It takes extraordinary courage not to go along with this crazy war.

There is something quite insane in going to war against people who are willing to blow themselves up.

Some of those in government who question the war need to have the courage of Sgt. Benderman and stand firm against the idiocy of this conflict with Iraq in Iraq."
   -- George F. Sanders, Milwaukee, WI

"Your interview stated that Sgt Benderman's contract was up last October, but was extended by the military (evidently against his will). I don't see this as part of the 'volunteer army' since he's being forced to go back. I think he's served his country well for 10 years. I can tell that war has changed his outlook on life and perhaps made him realize the senselessness of killing. However, I also understand that a soldier must follow orders. Ultimately I believe that you must follow your own conscience no matter what the consequences. Someone who follows their own inner voice is a true hero. Sgt Benderman, with his wife's support, is a good example for us all."
   -- Mick Youvee, Cedar Glen, CA

"I was heartened to hear your report this morning about Sgt. Kevin Benderman's fight to become a conscientious objector. How much better our world would be if more combatants, finally sickened by the lunacy that is war, withdrew from this madness en masse. On all sides.

During WWII my father refused to carry a weapon because he had worked for a Japanese shipping line in San Francisco prior to the events at Pearl Harbor. He could not imagine killing the gentile and respectful people he had come to love at his place of work. He did contribute to the war effort by helping to deliver medical supplies to the troops from where he was stationed in the Hawaiian islands. As a C.O. during the 'good war' he was reviled and harassed but he maintained his principles and never regretted his stand against the taking of another human beings life. He died at the age of 87, a peaceful warrior and my personal hero. I wish Kevin Benderman the same sane fate."
   -- Cynthia Scarlett, Nevada City, CA

"Thank goodness Sgt. Benderman has the courage to stand by his well founded perceptions regarding the realities of the war in Iraq. As Chris Hedges puts it in a recent piece for the New York Review of Books ('On War,' 12-16-'04), 'The reason wars should always be covered from the perspective of the common soldier...is that these foot soldiers are largely pawns. Their lives, despite the protestations of the generals and the politicians, mean little to the war planners.' This view is unfortunately supported by the treatment of Sgt. Benderman by his military superiors leading up to his deployment date this week. Thank you for giving us the perspective of this honorable soldier as he grappled with the realities of a war nearly all Americans are able to ignore."
   -- Conrad Schmidt

"Unfortunately a commitment was made by what sounds like a career soldier. As is any agreement, there are consequences for not holding up his end of the deal. You'd think after 10 years of playing soldier, and from the sounds of it, playing it quite successfully, he would have made up his mind about war. A very sad day for America."
   -- Anonymous, Walnut Creek, CA

"I am a US Marine Vietnam Vet and native Texan. I support Sgt. Kevin Benderman's position not to return to Iraq. Even if he was not a conscientious objector, I would support him not going. The administration (President Bush) is just as wrong on Iraq as the administrations that got us into Vietnam and kept us there. This is an administration full of people (exception Secretary of State Colin L. Powell) who never served in war. I think that if they had gone to war, we would have not gone so quickly to Iraq."
   -- Gary Prentice, Fair Oaks, CA

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