Sunday, June 25, 2006

Patrick McCaffrey's vigil

I was at a vigil last Thursday to mark the 2 year anniversary of the death of the son of my friend, Sgt Patrick McCaffrey. Besides it being the hottest day of the year, it was pretty emotional.

Nadia's 11 year old grandson, Patrick McCaffrey, Jr was there wearing a shirt with his father's photo on the front and back. There is no doubt he is Patrick's son with that smile. How do you explain to an 11 year old that, yes, your father was killed in the war, but it didn't happen like we told you. How does an 11 year old grasp that his father was murdered by some very bad guys?

Stephen Edwards was there, a fellow soldier and good friend of Patrick's. Because of his relationship with Patrick and the recent news that the circumstances of his death was murder by the Iraqi soldiers that their unit had trained, Stephen has been thrown into the spotlight. Stephen tells compelling stories and is very strong in his convictions about the war. He was also respectful, almost reverent of the 3 Gold Star Mom & Dad's who were there; Casey's dad, Ken's mom & Patrick's mom. He told me he wished he had known Ken.

Stephen is one of those guys who cherishes his wife. He looks at her like every woman wants a man to look at her. He has that same look when he talks about his wife and his daughter. I cannot imagine their journey. I'm sure they just want their old life back. I wish I could do that for them.

Stephen was wearing his desert camo shirt. Above the name tag his name was embroidered in Arabic. At least he thought that's what it said. An Arabic woman asked him if he knew what it meant and he said, yes, Edwards. She told him it read "Edwards enemy". The soldiers had what they thought was their arabic names above their official nametag, I'm presuming so that the Iraqi population could read the name. How offensive is it that this embroiderer who had been hired by the Americans to work on the base and to provide a service to these soldiers, felt that their political agenda was more important?

During an interview, a reporter told me that an Army spokesperson told him that the Army has only 6 families who have had the truth delayed to them. I told him "I doubt that's true; I know 4 of the families". Am I lucky or what?

Patrick's mom, Nadia spoke about the two year journey she's been on and about her plans for the future to help returning veteran's of this war find peace in their minds and bodies when they return. I know Nadia, and she will accomplish this vision with a little help from her friends. What a legacy for Patrick.

Nadia & I got to talk briefly on Thursday. The parallels of the journey to truth, or lack thereof, are significant. What amazed me was that both of us had information that the Army had no clue about. Much more so in Nadia's case, but just the same, the Army learned details from me, too. Yes, the families talk and so do the soldiers.

Thursday was also the 2 year anniversary for my friends in Massachusetts, the Lucey family. Lcpl Jeffrey Lucey had returned from Iraq 9 months prior. He couldn't deal with his new life and he killed himself. His father found him that afternoon.

I'm so sorry.

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