I am in Washington DC this Mothers Day weekend for Eyes Wide Open, the America Friends Service Committee exhibit of empty combat boots-, representing the human cost of war . On the National Mall between the Washington Monument and the Capitol building, lay 2436 empty boots representing the US military lives that have been lost i Iraq. So many many empty lives.
On Saturday, there will be a Silent March around the National Mall made up of families and people who have been affected by this war in Iraq.
I will be one of the speakers after the march. Had I unlimited time to speak, I would say this:
This Sunday we celebrate Mother’s Day as a day to give thanks to the women in our lives. The greeting cards show flowers and hearts; the breakfast is served in bed and dinner’s are away from home so there are no dishes to wash. It is a cozy and loving day to be spent with family.
While our country is entering the fourth year of the war in Iraq and hostilities continue in other parts of the world, and hundreds of thousands of mother’s are separated from their loved ones, it is fitting that we know one of the origins of the Mother’s Day in the United States. The first vision of Mother’s Day was not so sweet and innocent.
Julia Ward Howe was a well known abolitionist during the Civil War. After the war, her efforts turned to pacifism and other similar endeavors. In 1870 she was the first to proclaim Mother's Day, with her Mother's Day Proclamation. It was to be a day dedicated to peace. She pondered the question
"Why do not the mothers of mankind interfere in these matters to prevent the waste of that human life of which they alone bear and know the
Arise then...women of this day! Arise, all women who have hearts! Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearnAll that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience. We, the women of one country, Will be too tender of those of another countryTo allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.
As a mother whose son, my only child, was killed in Iraq nearly two years ago, I wonder about the soul of this country as the death toll rises every day and yet there is silence from the mother’s of this nation. Are they silent because they fear if they acknowledge this terrible war, then it might come home to rest on their own doorstep? Why are there no heartbreaking pleas to stop the madness? Do we feel so helpless that we cannot stop the war machine that rumbles on destroying lives and families? Do we feel so hopeless that we are paralyzed and cannot speak out to demand truth and honesty from the leaders of this country? I wish I knew.
I raised a great man who was proud to serve his country. Ken cared about his friends and family and he was blessed to have plenty of both. We were lucky to have had him in our lives for 26 years. But it was only 26 years. Ken had spent 384 days in Iraq and he was killed during a fierce battle on May 30, 2004. To think that this Sunday will be the 2nd Mother’s Day that I won’t be hearing from him is heartbreaking. He won’t come bounding into my bedroom with the greatest greeting card that he always took such pride in picking out for me. This year, instead of going to the beach as we always did, I will be spending this special day with my son at his gravesite at Arlington National Cemetery. When the first stars twinkle in the sky that night, I will look to those stars and hope that he is happy where he is. I will ask those same stars, “Will I ever know happiness again?” I wish I knew.
2436 families have suffered the most grievous loss in this war. Reports say that the administration was DEAD WRONG in their reasons for going to war; meanwhile my son is just DEAD.
For mothers who are lucky enough to be surrounded by their children and for those of us who are lucky enough to have our mothers in our lives, give hugs and give thanks.