First published at truthout.org.
Friday, December 23, 2005
I have been in Europe for two weeks now. I have been toasted by the Mayor of London, Ken Livingston, and greeted by foreign ministers, a vice president and members of the various parliaments. Those stories are for another article.
My highest honor both here in the States and in Europe now is meeting with the families of children murdered in George Bush’s War of Terror against the world.
No matter if we all speak differently accented English, Spanish, or the heavy Glaswegian accent of my Scottish sister in sorrow, Rose Gentle–whose gentle-giant son, Gordon, was killed by Blair and Bush in Iraq in July of 2004–our hearts all speak the same idiom of pain, and we sing the same lament of futile loss.
In Scotland, as we were meeting with Ministers of Parliament and urging them to stand up to the government in London and withdraw Scottish troops from Iraq, I met a woman named Sue Smith, whose son Philip was killed in Iraq this past July. Her voice vibrated and fluctuated with incalculable loss as she spoke of the betrayal that she felt at burying her son too early and for the lies of her Prime Minister: a co-war criminal with George Bush. The wound in her heart was fresh and openly bleeding. In her wounded eyes I saw my heart as it was about a year ago.
At the International Peace Conference in London, I met Shaun Brierly’s dad, Peter. Shaun was in the British Army, and he was killed in Iraq in March of 2003 in the very early days of the war. Peter lugged my heavy satchel around London with quiet good humor. In his heavy Yorkshire accent, he tried to describe to me what losing his son has done to him and his family. We drank a pint in a pub to our boys and to our hurt but especially to our hearts’ resolve to end this war and expose the villains who mislead our countries so shamelessly. Through our blinked-back tears we promised each other we would stay strong.
Also at the Peace Conference were Reg Keys and John Miller. Reg’s son Tom was KIA along with John’s son, Simon. We attended a few events together, and I teased them about the suits they were wearing, and they teased me about my “gym” clothes. Reg stood against Tony Blair for Prime Minister of the UK last year and made a respectable showing. John and Reg are hanging in together with their pain. It is so hard for dads. It is easier for us moms to express our heart pain as the dads try to head their heartache off at the pass. I also met Ann Laurence, who described her beautiful English countryside home to me and showed me pictures of her handsome son, Marc. She had a quiet voice and eyes filled with heaviness and tears ready to overflow at any moment.
In Spain, I met two women whose sons were callously murdered by the policies of our two governments: governments and leaders who hand in jaded hand took our countries to an impossible and immoral invasion and occupation of an innocent and mostly defenseless country.