Dear Speaker Pelosi,
I write to you this Mother's Day as the mother of Lt. Ken Ballard, who was killed in Najaf, Iraq four years ago, fighting in a war that you have criticized but continue to fund.
I hope that this Mother's Day you are lucky enough to be surrounded by your children and grandchildren, to share thanks and hugs. But I also hope that you will think about the thousands of mothers of U.S. troops who will never see their children again -- and the tens of thousands of mothers of troops now serving in Iraq who live in fear every day of the phone call or the knock on the door telling them their child has been injured or killed.
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 fourth 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 remembering him. 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.
I miss Ken every minute of every day. When Ken was killed, people told me it would get better. They were wrong; it is different, but life without Ken will never be better. As a friend described Ken at his memorial, There was "no secret icing on the cake, just a plain, honest man . . . who would get crazy every so often.'' As a single mom, Ken was my north star, my grounding. But when Ken died, so did my future. We Gold Star families are the human cost of this war. We are left behind to pick up the pieces of our broken lives. We will go on with our lives, but there will always be a part of our heart that is a desperately empty black hole.
When you became Speaker of the House I had great hopes that you would take the lead in bringing an end to the war that killed my son and so many others -- that you would spare other mothers that devastating pain. But since you were sworn in, 1,069 more U.S. troops have died in Iraq.
You said this week that "Democrats in Congress stand with Americans who want to bring our troops home responsibly, safely and soon" -- and yet you are asking the House to pass legislation funding the continuation of the war in Iraq well into 2009. It is likely that we will lose about 500 more members of the US military and thousands of wounded by the time Mother's Day 2009 rolls around. That may be acceptable to you, but it isn't acceptable to me.
While our country is entering the sixth 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.
Julia Ward Howe was a well known abolitionist during the Civil War. After the war, her efforts turned to peace.. 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 cost?"
"Arise then...women of this day! Arise, all women who have hearts! Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all 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 country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."
As a mother whose only child, was killed in Iraq, 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. And I can't comprehend how you as a mother can continue to approve the funding that will send other mother's sons and daughters off to fight in a war that you have known was illegal, immoral, and unjust from the start.
Speaker Pelosi, there are already too many Gold Star Mothers. Please show some of the same courage my son and his fellow troops displayed. Admit that you were wrong, and commit yourself to opposing any bill that will continue to fund this war that is killing our brave young men and women. Promise to do everything in your power to bring every mother's child home from Iraq quickly and safely, and to give all our troops the care they need when they get here. That's the best way to honor the mothers of our fallen soldiers this Mother's Day.