There are some days I just want to tear out of the calendar. Today, May 30, is one of them. 3 years ago, today, my only child Lt Ken Ballard was killed in George Bush's war. I never supported this war; I never supported this president or his administration.
I spent Monday at Arlington with family and friends celebrating Ken's life. It is our job to make sure that Ken has the most decorated headstone in the cemetery, so we bring flowers, and flags and other mementos. We drank champagne & beer and we remembered a life that was cut short. All things considered, Arlington is where one should be on Memorial Day, after all, it is the day our country honors our veteran's who gave their last full measure of devotion.
Even now, 3 years later, I find it difficult to believe the words that I speak so often, "my son was killed in Iraq". I guess there is some mental mechanism that protects me from the magnitude of what that really means. It is unimaginable and I would not wish this pain on anyone, ever. A parent should never bury a child, never.
As a soldier, I have been told that Ken was fearless. He was well respected by his peers and many superior officers. As prior service, his soldiers respected him because they knew he knew their jobs. He was "great guy and an excellent leader", a "soldier's soldier", Ken would not have asked anything of them that he would not have done himself. The mission in Iraq, however politically muddled, is clear to the men & women in combat- bring each other home safely. It did not work out that way for Ken's unit.
As a friend, I have been told, Ken was second to none. Everyone considered Ken to be their best friend. He had an "explosively outgoing, contagiously fun-loving personality that was always hungry for adventure". He would always be there when needed and more often when you didn't know you needed a friend. He lit up any room he entered with joy for life unparalleled.
As a son, Ken was the best. We left New York when he was 10 months old and headed for our new life in California. Being Ken's mom was always an adventure. When Ken was 3 years old, after my divorce, I changed my name to revert back to my maiden name. Ken asked me "when we get married, can you be Ballard again?" That's just the way things were with us. Ken was born with a spirit filled with mischief and love. When Ken left for the Army the fall after high school graduation, he left with a purpose & desire to serve his country. I cannot begin to describe my pride in being Ken's mom and in watching him grow to be the man he became.
Ken brought laughter and love to us in a million ways. I miss him every moment of every day, but these milestone days are the worst.
Let us never forget Ken or any of the 3468 soldiers killed in this horrible war/occupation.