"If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other."
- Mother Theresa
I spoke with a man the other day who told me that he is a one issue voter. The issue? The war in Iraq. He explained to me that he believes winning the war is critical in raising the morale of our military.
"The loss of the war in Vietnam and the poor results of the situation in Somalia, have taken it's toll on our morale," he claimed. "It is critical that we win this war now, for the sake of our troops and to raise America's standing in the world." He was a very nice man and I enjoyed our conversation, warm in spite of our disagreement about this issue.
As a mother of a Marine daughter I see things differently. As she trains to be deployed to Iraq, I can't help but hope that the tides will turn before she needs to leave. While I care about her morale to the extent that she does her job well and keeps up her guard, I nevertheless want this occupation to come to a close. Her safety is of prime concern to me. I am her mother; she is my child.
My secretary also has a Marine son. He will be going off to Afghanistan in January, an even more dangerous situation. He has already been to Iraq, witnessing the death of several close comrades. Now, he is being re-deployed as all the troops are these days. Over and over again, these young men and women go off to face the danger--putting their lives on the line in the process.
As our children prepare to deploy, my secretary and I are witness not only to their training but to the paperwork that must be completed before they go. Life insurance policies are double checked, making sure that beneficiaries are valid and in place. Emergency contact numbers are checked and rechecked in case news needs to be reported. Power of attorney is arranged to act on our children's behalf regarding their bank accounts and any personal effects that may need to be returned home. Nothing becomes more unsettling than getting these affairs in order. All i's need to be dotted and all t's crossed long before that dreaded date of deployment is reached. Yes, we parents dread that date, but our Marines' resolve is strong. This is their duty. They take it seriously; they are committed, strong, well-trained. Parents are more ambivalent. It is difficult to put our feelings, our experience of all of this, into mere words. There really are no words, after all.
As a parent, I am both proud and worried. While my daughter signed on for this, I did not. Putting on a brave face, I do my best to support her, but I don't think war, particularly this war, is the answer. I can't see how we can be better off by losing so many of our fine sons and daughters. And I don't want her to be one of the casualties, so anonymous in the non-reporting of them in the evening news. We hear much more about sports and celebrities than we do of these brave young men and women. Why is that? I can't remember the last time I heard a news report regarding the war.
I have no doubt that our troops are heroes. Would that they were treated with more reverence. Perhaps just that one step would help improve morale. I know they have a job to do and they do it willingly. But as for me, I pray, not just for her safety but for the safety of all. They are all my children, in a way. The brotherhood of the service, the brotherhood of mankind. May we begin to see things differently and begin to wage peace instead of war.