My oldest son turned 17 on Oct. 5.
A week later, as we sat down to dinner, the phone rang. I glanced at the caller ID and queried out loud, “U.S. government?”
The male caller asked to speak to my oldest son. Not in the habit of allowing my children to speak to perfect strangers, I asked who was calling.
“Staff Sergeant …” and my brain blurred, “… of the U.S. Army.”
The blur became a spin, and all I could think was, “They’re after him.”
I managed a faint but firm “No thank you,” and the sergeant offered in reply, “Well ma’am, you have a nice evening.” Click. Gone.
But the call was lingering and very disturbing.
We don’t need a draft. But we’ll call 17-year-olds at home like the cheesiest of phone solicitors.
The next morning, The Star reported the death of Pfc. Shane R. Austin, 19, in Ramadi, Iraq. His mother remembered him as “a very proud soldier” and a “hero in Edgerton today.”
I don’t doubt that either is true, but I don’t want to “remember” my son. I want my son to remember me.
Too many American men, women and children are remembering proud soldiers, heroes for a day — the day they die.
Many of us continue to numb ourselves to this monumental and irreplaceable loss, hiding behind party rhetoric and the comfort of the knowledge that the war will not come knocking at our doors.
We take the deep respect and patriotism embodied in our nation’s flag, wrap our war dead in the mystique of it and hand it to grieving families, who clutch it against broken hearts. We have nothing else to give them.
President Bush, whose own children have not enlisted and served, refuses to “cut and run” while never addressing the lies and shaded truths he spoon-fed a grieving, vengeful post-Sept. 11 American public to justify the launch of an assault on a country that is now plagued by our invasion and the resulting civil war.
Brave Americans will continue to pay the ultimate price in duty to their country.
But that duty is tainted by the administration that called upon them, leaving only their service and death honorable.
President Bush, you will not pay for your lies, deceit, miscalculation, lack of understanding or planning with the blood of my children.
Your rhetoric will not be their epitaph.
"ON THE WAR IN IRAQ by Kelly Feigenbaum" >>