Friday, January 26, 2007

Honor. Duty. Country


These three words may be only words to you and to me, ordinary citizens of the United States of America. To our Servicemen and women, however, they are a code to live by as they serve our country. They live with honor. They do their duty and they serve their country.

These words are the words I had inscribed on my son’s headstone three years ago next month. They are the code he lived by, the words that helped to make him the fine young man he had become.

Honor. Duty. Country. They are the words, the code of honor and ethics they every person who serves this country, whether in the military or as elected representatives, should live by.

Today I am here to call upon the elected representatives of the United States of America to listen to the American people. We want the war in Iraq to end. We want our soldiers to come home. The American people have spoken, and we have told you loud and clear that we do not support this ill-begotten war. We do not trust our Commander in Chief any longer.

I realize that many of our elected officials, present company excepted, are riding the fence on this issue. Some, such as John Cornyn and Kay Bailey-Hutchison, are still firmly behind the President and support him for reasons I cannot understand. Maybe they are fearful of losing their jobs, of backing away from a fellow Texan, of cutting rank.

It is to these people that I speak. I tell you that it is time to muster up what courage you can find – and believe me, you can do it when you have to -- and take a stand against this war. You must take a stand and say that it is wrong. You must end this hideous nightmare and bring our troops home.

Let me tell you about courage. In doing so, I hope you will find even half the courage I tell you about.

All over this country tonight there are mothers and fathers who have kissed and hugged their beloved sons and daughters goodbye, wiped away their tears, and sent them off to battle. One of these mothers that I am friends with does not want to leave her home because she is afraid she will miss a phone call from her son who has been gone so long from his loving family. Another friend, when asked how her son was doing in Iraq had to answer, “I don’t know. I don’t know whether he is dead or alive”. This past week I received an email, forwarded from a colleague, from the wife of a helicopter pilot who was in the same unit as the helicopter that was shot down last weekend. She didn’t know if her husband was dead or alive and was terrified. It took days before she finally learned that he is alive. Many others were not so lucky. This takes a tremendous amount of courage. If the families of the soldiers you have sent into battle can live through sending their loved ones off into harm’s way, fearful every moment for their safety, you can find the courage to stand up against this war.

Let’s talk about the soldiers who do not know, sometimes, who the enemy is. Yet day after day, they put on the gear and go out onto the streets of Baghdad, Sadr City, and other parts of Iraq. They are doing the bidding of their Country, of their Commander in Chief who knows nothing of courage, honor, duty or integrity. These fine men and women in our military serve our country and do their duty in spite of everything. I know they are afraid. They are tired and battle weary. Yet they continue to do their duty day after day under circumstances which you can only have nightmares about. If the soldiers can courageously put their lives on the line every single moment of every single day for months, and in some cases, years, then you can and must find the courage to bring them home.

We can talk about the vets who return home from Iraq, only to be called upon to return time after time, again putting their lives on hold, their families and careers on the backburner. Many of them do not want to go, yet they go because duty calls. Or because their buddies are there. They go because they are people of honor and integrity the likes of which most of us will never again see in our lifetimes.

Let’s talk about the courage it takes to live the rest of your life after you have buried your only son who died so needlessly in this fool’s war. At first you do not believe that the person you spent the majority of your adult life rearing is dead. But you have to pick out the casket. You have to find a funeral home and a cemetery and make funeral arrangements. You have to write an obituary and make terrible phone calls that you know will crush the person on the other end of the line. And then you have to figure out how in the hell to make sense out of something that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

The President has asked us to give his plan a chance. I say he has run out of chances. The President thinks we should trust him. His trust ran out a long time ago.

The Bush Administration told us that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Turns out they had none.

The Bush Administration told us that Hussein had ties to Bin Laden and al Qaeda. Turns out that was a bold-faced lie.

The Bush Administration told us that we were going to Iraq to help the Iraqi people and bring about “regime change”. Saddam is now dead.

The Bush Administration told us that we needed to bring freedom and democracy to Iraq. They have had their elections. However, Iraq is in much worse shape now that it was before we, the American military and private civilian contractors, arrived.

We have accomplished the things that the President, his administration and the Republican controlled government said we should do. Now, it’s time for all of you to listen to We, the People of the United States of America, to end this war and to bring our soldiers home. You can find the courage and the strength to do this. It is your responsibility and your duty to listen to us and do the right thing by our brave men and women. Cut off funding for the war. Leave enough money for the speedy withdrawal of our troops and bring our sons and daughters home. They have done their duty for you. Now it’s time you did your duty for them.

HONOR…DUTY…COUNTRY… Three words to live by.

Saturday, January 20, 2007



Why is my son dead? From an insurgent’s bullet to his sweet head.

Why do I have to go on? Lying awake from dusk to dawn.Why does the pain never go away? Living with it everyday.

Why does the sun continue to shine? When darkness is only mine.

Why are we born just to die? Religion is the biggest lie.

Why, why, why?

Questions ever asked, answers never received.

Why do I feel so deceived?
By Cindy Sheehan, Gold Star Families for Peace

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Mourning and Anger

Next month it will be three years since my handsome, crazy, smart, stubborn and amazing son died. As the anniversary of Jeremy's death approaches, I have done a lot of soul searching in a way that I have not been able to do before now. I guess as time goes by, the pure, raw emotion of burying my only son, the first-born of my womb has started to heal in some small way and I am able to look at the events surrounding Jeremy's death in a more rational way -- if that is at all possible.

That is not to say that the raw emotions are not there. They most certainly are. They are there, waiting to bubble up to the surface at any given moment, tripped off by a particularly touching commercial, the story of another human being who has gone through tough times, the death of another soldier. The circumstances don't matter so much as does the fact that I am still an injured and broken person in some way and probably will be for the rest of my natural life.

For some time I have been going to therapy to try and heal myself and become a more whole person again. One of the things I have learned about myself is that my personality type is of the kind that has a tendency to bury my emotions and to try and keep them buried as deep as possible. This is a protection mechanism, one that I am trying to learn to overcome as it is also a destructive pattern for me.

My therapist believes that I am repressing anger. For me, anger is something that I have not ever been allowed to feel in my life by those around me. At this time I have a partner who is not threatened by my feelings of anger and I am deeply grateful that he allows me the opportunity to take this emotion out, feel it, look at it, experience it. This process has been truly frightening for me to do, but I am doing it in the hope that someday I will be a more healthy person.

I am writing this entry today to tell you why I am angry. I hope that it will help others, specifically other Gold Star families, learn to deal with their anger and to know that it's okay. It's truly okay to be angry.

So, one might ask, what am I angry about? Well here goes.

I am angry that Jeremy is dead. I am angry at Jeremy for being dead. I am angry at the system of government that pulled Jeremy from his life of college and his family to serve in the military full time when he was a Reservist. If they had not done this, Jeremy would probably still be alive today. I am mad as hell at the man who calls himself President of this country and the so-called leaders of this country who have allowed him to do so for so long.

Most of all, though, I am angry as hell at my son. He did not listen to me when I told him to be careful and be safe the last time I saw him and hugged him goodbye. Five days later, he died in a car accident by his own hand because he was driving wrecklessly. He was injured so badly that we could not view or see his body when it was finally brought back to us by the Army.

I'm angry at Jeremy for being so wreckless and bringing about the greatest grief our family has ever known or will probably ever know for the rest of our lives. I am angry at him for creating this huge abyss in my heart that I fear ill never heal.

For all that I am angry, though, I would forgive Jeremy in a heartbeat and I would give up everything that I have to hug him one more tme, to touch his face, to hear his voice, to spend just one more moment with my precious son.

So, there you have it, the confession of the mother of a dead son. Love never dies, even when those we love leave this world. I have cried and cussed at Jeremy more than once, then begged him to forgive me and to just come back all in the same breath. I guess this means that I am human. And I am, hopefully, coming to a full healthy grip on the reality that is my life.