There are a lot of things you can say to a Gold Star family and there are also a lot of things you shouldn't say to or about a Gold Star family. While most people are kind and empathetic when speaking to a family who has lost a loved one in war, some people can really be insensitive and insulting.
Mitt Romney, a Republican running for President was the latter this week. The AP reports that 's eyes filled with tears Monday as the Republican presidential contender recalled watching the casket of a soldier killed in Iraq return to the United States and imagined if it were one of his five sons.
How disingenuous. If there was a possibility that any of his 5 sons might serve their country in the military and die as a result, I might give him credit for his imagination. But Romney told us his sons are serving this country by campaigning for their father. What's the worst that could happen to them on the campaign trail? A paper cut? To suggest that serving your country campaigning for one's father is the same as serving your country in the military and underfire is just wrong. If it wasn't so serious, it would be laughable.
While I appreciate that he thinks he could imagine losing a child to war, Romney would have to have a hell of an imagination to get even anywhere near what my life is like since losing my only child, Lt Ken Ballard, to George Bush's war 3 1/2 years ago. There are not enough painful words in our language to describe the anguish that I and nearly 4000 other families feel as we wake up every morning knowing that our loved one is never coming home and that they will never again join us for the holidays. There are no words to describe the gaping hole in our hearts that will never, ever heal.
Perhaps Romney might try to imagine opening the door to the military casualty team to be told that your loved one is dead. He might try to imagine meeting his child's flag covered casket inside the belly of an airplane at the airport as he comes home for the last time. Or maybe he might imagine standing over his son's grave at Arlington National Cemetery with the sound of Taps is being played in the distance. But, mercifully, he will never know, because no one should ever know the reality of a Gold Star family.
If Mitt Romney finds imagining this war so painful, he could take steps to end this endless occupation. As a presidential candidate, Mitt Romney could make ending the war part of his platform. But, a quick search of his website lists issues such as Defeating the Jihadists, Competing with Asia, Taxes, Immigration, America's Culture and Values and others but has no specific statement on Iraq. I'm pretty sure that means it's okay with Mitt for other people's kids to keep getting blown up, as long as it is not one of his own.
Mitt Romney should stick to talking about things he knows. He will never know the pain of losing a child in a war he never supported.