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The Costs of War | The Nation

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The Costs of War

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PRISCILLA AMMERMAN

Priscilla Ammerman, a long-term Mississippi resident, is a state purchasing agent.

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I am the mother of identical 22-year-old twins, both members of the Mississippi Army National Guard. Both have been activated in the same unit for training here in Mississippi and for deployment to Iraq in January.

As luck would have it, my sons' unit also has another set of identical twins; they are only 19. This is one of the real consequences of the mobilization of National Guard units from small towns; we have brothers, sons and fathers, mothers and daughters, and all other combinations of relatives going to combat zones together.

I read Ms. Allison's comments and, finally, was able to identify with someone in this alternate universe I suddenly find myself residing in. I also feel her frustration, her fear, her all-encompassing anxiety and most of all her overriding anger.

Like Ms. Allison, I can no longer seem to communicate at all with my family's members, all of whom are also right-wing, religious, knee-jerk supporters of Bush. When they vaguely ask me how my sons are doing, I just as vaguely reply fine. I really have no one other than my husband to express my feelings to. Living in Mississippi precludes most thoughtful discussion of the war, the President or any other topic relating to this Administration.

My anger at this President has become so intense that I can no longer watch him on television or listen to him on NPR; I literally become physically ill. I recently e-mailed the White House to ask the President to do a little soul-searching late at night away from distraction by advisers, campaign staff, etc. I asked him to then ask himself if he thought this war was worth the sacrifice of his twins, because I sincerely felt that it was not worth the sacrifice of mine.

Needless to say, I got no reply. And since then, as I have read more and more about his personality, I have realized what a futile effort that query was, because it appears this man is seemingly incapable of introspection or self-doubt. He apparently has no comprehension of the suffering of others, either.

As the mother of twins going into combat together, I think I am facing a situation even more untenable than most. Because my sons have always been so close, I have to fear not only the loss of a child but the consequences of that loss on the other twin. Both sons have confided to me that their greatest fear is not dying--but coming back without their brother. I, of course, have absolutely no way to reassure either that his greatest fears will not come to fruition.

My husband and I can only pray daily that something can occur before January to keep them here. They are 22-year-old college students who should be studying for finals and going to keggers, not patrolling in a country where the enemy straps on explosives and uses his body as a guided weapon.

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