My life fifteen years after Darrenís death.

I was going to write about how I feel as it approaches 15 years after Darren died on August 31, 1990. I was going to write that I now know how to live with the heartache. I was going to write how now I thank God daily, for the 22 years that I had Darren and seldom question ďwhyĒ any more. I was going to write how I am not angry at all. I still hate Motherís Day and the holidays are incomplete, to say the least and I still cry at unexpected times but I am so grateful that I had him.

However, I realized that I am angry, very angry and because I lost my only child 15 years ago and still feel the pain, I think I have a right to be angry Ė angry at those who think it is just fine to send other 22 year old kids to die in a war that no one can explain, at least no one explains, truthfully. Not only 22 year olds are dying, so are 18 year olds and 40 year olds and little children dying in a nation that never, ever did any harm to the United States.

How can those in power in the United States and those of you who may be supporting that power, justify these deaths and the maiming of our youth? Nearly 15,000 Americans have died or lost limbs, been blinded or disfigured for what? Also, we cannot forget the approximately 100,000 Iraqi men, women and children who have died because we attacked this country that had done us no harm. Their only crime was that they lived in a country with the worldís second largest oil reserves. Oh yes, Saddam is a very bad and evil man, but so are the heads of state of many other countries. They, however either donít have oil, or they are buddies with the powers in our country.

Donald Rumsfeld was over there shaking hands with Saddam after he used chemical weapons and killed millions in Iran. Dick Cheney was dealing with Saddam through Haliburtonís off-shore company when the U.S. and the U.N. were enforcing an embargo on Iraq. These men were not afraid of Saddam, they were not afraid he would attack America. They used him and thatís why they tried him for one of his less horrendous crimes and want him hung before being tried for his mass murders when he could testify about the help he received from the U.S..

In case you donít know it and I find out that so many donít know it because Cheney, especially, keeps trying to confuse you. I will have to say it again. Iraq had nothing to do with September 11th. Nothing at all! He and bin Laden hated one-another. Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction. We had inspectors there making sure of that. We could have kept those inspectors there forever. And no one would have died. None of our bombs would have blown up their schools, their water systems, their power plants, and their homes. But our President told the inspectors to get out because we were going to start bombing. Our leaders knew all of this and by now, you should, too.

We were attacked on 9/11 by al Qaeda. We were angry, all of the world was angry. We attacked Afghanistan with the support of the world to destroy al Qaeda and get rid of bin Laden. But we took most of our troops out when our leaders decided that now we, as a country, were frightened enough and patriotic enough to attack the country that they had been planning for since at least 1999. Bin Laden is still at large and the Taliban is again in Afghanistan and we donít have enough troops there to keep that from happening. We have our troops and two billion dollars a week in Iraq.

The new excuse to be in Iraq seems to be that we came to liberate them and give them a democracy. So, if we are not fighting the people of Iraq, how come we are killing them and they are killing our kids. These kids are fighting an unknown enemy in the type of warfare they werenít trained for and never thought they would have to do. Oh yes, they are patriots, they are heroes because they are doing what generations of soldiers have done. They are following the orders of the Commander in Chief. Oh by the way, maybe Iraq wonít have a real democracy, maybe women wonít have rights anymore, maybe they will be like Iran. This is what our leaders say now, but they donít care, they will still have their 14 permanent military bases there and the contractors and the oil companies will still be making billions. And no big deal about the lives of our young men and women. They arenít the children of the big political contributors.

Remember how we were told this war would only take maybe a few weeks or months at the most, and that the oil in Iraq would pay for it and the reconstruction? Remember that? It is now 2 Ĺ years later. Now those of you with kids and grandkids are leaving them with the debts of this war. And even the soldiers who return uninjured will bear the scars of what they have seen and what they have done for the rest of their lives. Yes, I know it is a volunteer army, do you think that part wasnít planned also? It is not the upper class who fights this war. The upper class supports this war but what do they contribute? Not even their taxes and definitely not their children. Lets just keep raising and raising the enlistment bonus and we will have a never ending supply of soldiers who couldnít afford to go to college and canít find a living wage job. They can be the cannon fodder for those who have the yellow ribbon magnets on their car. Support Our Troops they say. Letís not say support our troops, letís not call them troops lets call them sons and daughters, spouses, moms and dads and sisters and brothers. Lets call them our kids, our wonderful kids who are being told they are doing something noble Ė even though no one can explain what is noble. They have to feel that way because they have to believe what they are doing is helping or they couldnít do it.

The big joke is that the news only reports the bad news. That they donít report that our military is building schools. Well, dang! We blew up their schools and their hospitals. But that isnít the worst part, why are we sending our kids to risk their lives to build schools? Iraq now has a 60 percent unemployment rate. Why donít we let them build and rebuild their own country? They were builders long before we came. What happens when young men arenít allowed to work. When they have all day to be angry that we have destroyed their country, that we have killed their relatives. Even though Saddam is locked up, we havenít given them back their country, we supply the American contractors who do the reconstruction. This was our plan. Did we really believe that we could get away with this? That they would just sit idly by while all of their oil money, all of the reconstruction money, all of the money that we discovered buried by Saddam was spent on foreign contractors. Oh yes, we do give them a job Ė they can be part of the police force Ė and be killed by the insurgents. Those unemployed in Iraq have two choices: work with the insurgency or get killed working with us. Wonder why they want us out?

Yes, we are building schools but because we are doing the building they have no work. Because we are doing the building with our troops (sons and daughters) we are risking the lives of those troops who should be home with their families. You say the news doesnít show the good things we are doing, well they donít show the bad things, either. They certainly donít show the coffins, why donít they show the coffins? Because they donít want you to know that these deaths that add up daily, are deaths of real people, not just numbers.

Do you want to honor these young men and women, these heroes, then bring them home (even if it is kicking and screaming) but bring them home alive and honor them with benefits.

Those in the Reserves and the National Guard never thought they would be fighting a war. The National Guard fights forest fires in Oregon and rescues lost and injured climbers in our mountains. We need them here, along with their helicopters. Heck, we could even use them to guard our borders. What a concept, national guardÖ

On Wednesday night, I stood with my candle along with 2,000 others in Portland and with thousands across the nation, to show support for Cindy Sheehan and her hero Casey. It is true that not all of the parents who have lost their children in Iraq stand with Cindy, but you do really know why. When our child dies, we try so hard to make sense out of it. We want their lives and their deaths to matter. These parents need to believe that their child died for something noble. Cindy is asking what the noble cause is. You also know that a few years after this war is over and you take off those yellow ribbon magnets, their sorrow will still be there but no one will be calling their child a hero all the time. They will still want to talk about their child, like we all do, but no one will want to listen to war stories. They will just have that horrible pain that never goes away. They will still be wondering what their child would have accomplished had they lived. And those who were maimed, when they are rolling down the street in their wheel chair, looking up a stairway they canít climb, will you see a hero or will you see just a young man with no legs who is now addicted to drugs for the pain and the memories. Will you remember to demand of your Senators and Representatives that they quit cutting the budget for the Veterans Administration? These young people may have 50-60 more years in their wheel chairs. Are you going to remember their sacrifice and vote with your wallet?

It horrifies me and amazes me that you who have lost your child could possibly think it is Ok to send these kids to die? I am angry at you who believe this. I am so angry! You know how we never ask anyone even to imagine our pain because we know that even those imagined thoughts would be horrific. So then, how could you possibly condone sending another mother and fatherís child to die for the likes of Haliburton and GE and the other contractors, and the oil companies? How could you do it? I just canít understand. How could you support using your tax dollars to pay for 36,000 mercenary soldiers to kill Iraqis, the people whom we told we would liberate? How can you who have suffered the ultimate loss, wave your flag and send boys and girls to their death?

Wake up, you were not in danger from Iraq, ever. Companies are making billions off the lives of the cannon fodder we deploy. Donít stand for it, donít fall for it. Support our troops (boys and girls) and demand they be brought home now. Make phone calls and send emails to your Congressmen and Senators. Write letters to the editor. Donít let another parent suffer as we have done. Donít believe the absolute crap our leaders are trying to fool you with. It is patriotic to question our government. Be patriotic and demand answers.

Cindy Sheehan is the bravest woman I have ever known. She is braver than the reporters who wonít ask the question: what is the noble cause. Those like Limbaugh and Hannity who can trash this women are nothing but garbage, scum bugs who should be squashed. And you can do it by turning them off and standing up for what is right and decent. Speak truth to power and bring our children home and love them and support them and call them heroes but bring them home alive and whole.

This is my plea and this is the way I honor Darren who served in the Army, this is the way I honor Jesus who said, blessed are the peacemakers. This is my prayer to God. How can you support death when your heart is aching from just that? Stand with me, stand with Cindy Sheehan. Do something Ė make the calls, write the emails, join the protests and the vigils, tell your church members and your club members. Bring them home and support them on their return. They are heroes. You can be, too.

Written today, August 20, 2005 with all of my love and all of my passion in honor of all of the angels that left too soon. Julane Grant, Darrenís mom forever.

Darren at six months old
It is time to get the signs out again - when will we ever learn?

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