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Confessions of a Military Mom

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In America, Mother's Day falls on May 9 this year. In Palestine, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon it fell on March 21, and in Afghanistan it fell on March 8, where it is also celebrated as the first day of spring. Israel forgoes Mother's Day in favor of Family Day, celebrated on February 14 this year.

I take an interest in these countries because, while my son served in the US Army, I visited them to understand more deeply the effects of war.

Mother's Day has not been the same for me since my son deployed for three tours of duty, one to Afghanistan and two to Iraq. I barely remember those kinder, gentler celebrations when my young kids proudly presented me, under strict order to stay in bed, slightly charred pancakes on a flower-bedecked tray.

I remember a time when few Americans could locate Afghanistan on a map yet the prevailing sentiment held that bombing that country was "righteous"...and Colin Powell used flip charts to preach the gospel of Iraqi WMDs...and civil dissent was akin to treason.

My son is out of the Army now, honorably discharged, and moving on with his life. I have stayed in touch with many war-affected families; in the US this is relatively easy to do.

The US

Adele Kubein's family immigrated to the US from Jordan. Her daughter, M'kesha joined the National Guard and deployed to Iraq where she was gravely wounded. After years of military medical treatment, this young woman will get what she has repeatedly asked for: to have her constantly painful leg amputated. She will be able, then, to walk beyond the half block from her home where she lives with her profoundly deaf and disabled son.

M'kesha became a mom despite her base commander's order to abort that new life conceived in Iraq. She refused and is, Adele says, "a caring and attentive mother. My grandson is a beautiful child that we will have to care for the rest of our lives. He may be M'kesha's spiritual path of atoning for the killing she was forced to do as a National Guardswoman in Iraq.

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Susan Galleymore is the author of Long Time Passing: Mothers Speak about War and Terror, sharing the stories of people in Iraq, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, and U.S. [Pluto Press 2009]. She is also host and producer of Raising Sand Radio (more...)
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