Sunday, February 12, 2006

In Memoriam

Most people who know me know that I am not a fan of George Bush and his war in Iraq. Some know that I was in Washington D.C. marching with the thousands who were there to support Cindy Sheehan and the moderate peace action groups who joined her. (There were some uber-left groups there, and I'm not part of that gig). I just do not believe that war is the answer for anything....ever.

Whenever I watch The News Hour or This Week with George Stephanopoulos I wait for the "In Memoriam" segment at the end of the show and I watch the names of the soldiers with their ages and places of residence in silence and privately bless them and wish them well. As each name flashes by, I ponder at the youth of some and when an older soldier comes up I wonder if they have a spouse and children left behind. As a mother, I'm glad that none of my children or their significant others are in harms way, and I sympathize with those mothers whose children are in danger.

Several of my friends in the Santa Rosa Quilt Guild have sons in the military and are members of the local MOMS (mothers of military servicepeople) group. They wear the buttons and insignias of their kid's units proudly and the guild as a whole has joined in supporting the MOMS group by making neck coolers for the soldiers in Iraq and gathering toilet articles, books and other necessities for the troops that our government should supply, but does not.

One friend, N, had her only child, a son aged 21 sent to Iraq in September. N and her husband were lucky enough to spend a number of weeks in Kentucky last summer while C was in training.

Ever since he left, my friend had a "deer in the headlights" look, and I certainly didn't blame her. Who in the world would wish their child--let alone their only child--in a place like that? She was enourmously proud of him as they were a military family and her husband served 20 years in the Navy, but still she worried.

Well, the worst came to pass. On February 1st, his Humvee hit an IED and he was killed in action.

The quilt guild mobilized around the family as did the MOMS group and provided food and letters of comfort. His funeral was yesterday and was standing room only.

It was my first military funeral. The principal speaker was a Brig. Gen. from the 101st Airborne in Ft. Campbell, Kentucky. He was an inspiring speaker and I'm sure his words were a comfort to the family. The thought that kept running through my mind was "what a waste of a young human life!"

At the reception afterward, held in the Vet's Hall, some of his cousins did a PowerPoint presentation with pictures of him as a kid and growing up. As a mother, that just about sent me over the edge. My mind cannot imagine the grief these parents must be experiencing. All of their only child's future celebrations--college graduation, wedding, grandchildren--all being mourned this day.

Last night, after a good deal of expensive red wine, I was able to put some of the thoughts behind me, but today during Stephanopoulos "In Memoriam," there they were--more names, more young lives gone.

And this time, the grief became more real because I've seen it up close and personal.


Lynne said...

You now have a deeper connection to those with whom you were mourning. You have an understanding that surpasses words.
When enough Americans are united on this level, when enough Americans have this intimate understanding that surpasses words and bumper stickers, the war will end for us. Until then, I guess we just have to keep writing letters, protesting in public, and lending support to the families of all those men and women whose dreams are over.

Stephen du Toit said...

Thank you for such a frank and balanced view. Millions of us here in the UK - including my entire church - marched against this war, but we have a Prime Minister who just will not listen. Now we too are seeing a tragic waste of human life. But we cannot give way to despair - we HAVE to go on working for peace and justice. COURAGE!