Friday, August 26, 2005

Grieving Parents

I would never deny the right of anyone to grieve the loss of their child; but I have to question the thought processes behind those who honor their fallen soldier children by NOT speaking out against a war they themselves find wrong.

Such are the cases of several parents in the San Francisco Chronicle this morning.

The Chronicle interviewed parents and other family members who'd lost children to the war in Iraq. Many had gone to protest in Crawford with Cindy Sheehan. Some were pro war. And then there were the ones who said they themselves were opposed to the war but could not protest it out of respect for their fallen soldier children. Loretta Bridges is one such mom:

"My son believed in what he was doing," Bridges said. "I would never go protest against what he believed in and died for."

Another parent, Mark Crowley, also did not support the war:

"His belief was, this was about our freedom," he said. "He did it for country, family and friends."

As for protesting the war, Crowley said, "it's not about what I want, it's about what he wanted."

I'm sorry, I know it's hard to think your children died in vain; but how is this different from grieving parents of Jonestown Massacre victims, saying, "It was what my son wanted. He drank the Kool Aid because he believed in it," and thereby sanctioning the lunatic cult of Jim Jones?

Or the parents of the Heaven's Gate cult, who believed the Hale Bopp comet was accompanied by a space ship and that by "shedding their containers" (read bodies) on earth, they'd be beamed up the Mother Ship? Would they support space alien worship, because it's what their kids wanted?

I think not.

If the war was wrong before your child was killed, isn't it all the more wrong now that he's given the "ultimate sacrifice" for the cult of George Bush? Wouldn't you honor their deaths more by denouncing the war machine that sent them into a meaningless battle without proper equipment, without adequate rationale, without any plan to get them out of there?

What we are doing in Iraq isn't any different from asking people to drink the Kool Aid. Only worse, because thousands of innocent non-believers (we call them Iraqi citizens) are forced to drink right along with the believers.

Honor your fallen soldiers by grieving their death, respecting their memory and mourning their gullibility. Your anger could help other parents not have to go through what you have.


Tom Gangale said...

Religion or politics, it's all the same, when we give our power--and even our lives--over to leaders in exchange for their certain answers regarding the meaning of life and the meaningful deaths of loved ones. Keep your power, and seek your own answers.

Tom Gangale said...

An additional thought:

One of my international relations professors at SFSU once told me that the power of the nation-state is based on its ability to sucker a young person out of his or her life. Far from being some whacko leftist, his first political work was for Governor Spiro Agnew.

To all those who served, whether in good causes or bad, and didn't live to put "Ret." after their names.

Thomas Gangale, Capt, USAF (Ret,)

Anonymous said...

The observation has been made that one of the reasons why we have not had more of the "angry mother" Cindy Sheehan type actions with the Iraq fiasco, in contrast to the Vietnam fiasco, is because these soldiers had volunteered for military service rather than being drafted. There seems to be a lot of truth to that observation. What a strange ramification of the all-volunteer military!

It is understandable that the families of soldiers killed or wounded in Iraq do not want to face the reality that the death/maiming of their loved one had nothing whatsoever to do with "freedom" or definding the United States. Denial is a convenient, although dysfunctional, way of dealing with painful things. With time and encouragement, hopefully they will find the courage to come to grips with reality and find their voice.

Ann said...

I appreciate your thoughtfulness on this....if people would only do what their hearts tell them is right!.....Ann

Martha said...

I guess you're going to get some heat for this. I do not know if there is any way to couch such thoughts without getting heat.
It might be worth asking folks like George Lakoff or the Dalai Lama. We progressive have to learn to engage for the purpose of winning converts. It is something I wrassle with always.
I know the way to start is always "How would you feel if. . . " but how to get past that is going to create heat too.
"How would you feel if your child's death broke the hearts of hundreds of thousands of people who are frustrated that an evil man sent your child to a pointless death invading another country where we have no business and no honor, and your defense of your child's death only facilitates more deaths of more children?"


Don said...

Great Blog. Bravo!

Beth and Oz said...

Thank you for this! I was outraged when I read that story in the Chron this AM and so was my husband.

Steve said...

It is not thier gullibility. They were lied to by the leaders of their government and the Commander in Chief. They were already victims when they were killed. All of the troops over there are victims of the same White House crimes.

Dick said...

Dear Dotty, You have taken on a subject that I have not read a word about . I guess it was considered too difficult to approach and so has simply been accepted without comment. It would have been easy to give offense while speaking out as you have done . However, I thought the whole tone of your piece was most sympathetic and you made your point with unquestionable respect for parents' feelings .

Andy said...


If I lost my son in war because he had a mistaken belief based upon lies and misinformation I would strongly feel that it was my duty to keep other beautiful children from meeting the same fate by letting my voice be heard.

I honor and respect the moms who's loss is so deep and so painful that no words can describe it. I also honor moms that cannot at this time speak out because they don't feel it is right or because it is too soon to do so; healing takes time.

At the same time I encourage mom's who understand the nature of this war regardless of their child's understanding of it, to look deeply into their heart and ask what actions can they take that will be of the greatest benefit to their healing and equally importantly to so many of the young, innocent beautiful young brothers and sisters that are still living in terror in Iraq each day and each night, fighting a foolish war with no end in sight.

For those of us that are deeply dedicated to peace and speaking the truth, we must let our voices be heard so that the tide of public opinion may keep on turning this is the key to ending the insanity in Iraq. The truth is never a betrayal to the dead or the living; it is a gift and a blessing to all life on Earth.

Clutch said...

'...mourning their gullibility.' !!!

You have got to be kidding. You are going to go ahead and kick a dead trooper while he is down?! WTF kind of person are you? If you are against the war that is fine. If you think these parents should go protest that is fine to. But to suggest that these soldiers died for '...for the cult of George Bush?' Lady you are the one here that is misguided. They died for you, me and the strangers on the street. They served their country, our country, you and me. They went to Iraq because they swore an oath. The made a promise to the American people to serve when called. The only thing these soldiers ask for in return is some respect.

At the very least even if you are one of those people who think that anyone who wears a uniform of the U.S. military is a gullible twit it is just plain rude to speak ill of the dead.

Veronica said...

very touching, well reasoned and brave of you to speak out
those parents must find it hard to think clearly with all the pain they are in
Thank you