We do have lots for which to be grateful. We had lived for years without tragedy. I tell people that most of my friends have lost either one or both parents, but mine are still alive. My 86-year-old father is unstable from a stroke and has just been declared legally blind, but he 's had a wonderful life. At least he did --we all did --until Chase was killed in this war that was waged for oil and to ensure the reelection of George W. Bush.
My father desperately tried to talk Chase out of signing with the Marines. Daddy served with the Army Corps of Engineers and suggested that if Chase insisted on joining the armed forces, he should opt for the Navy or Coast Guard. But Chase had listened to the Marine recruiters who said, "The few, the proud, " and "Why settle for second best when you can be first? " He was sold a bill of goods that became a package of death.
In my brother 's living room was a "Comfort Quilt " made by military families to present to a fallen troop 's next of kin. I couldn 't look at it nor could my mother. My sister said it was a wonderful tribute to Chase, this man/child who wanted to do something significant.
Chase said, "They 're not. "
He called once when I was at my parents ' house, and when I asked if he could speak freely, he said, "No. " This was in June. He was killed two months later. Chase already had experienced two close calls when he 'd hit roadside bombs that exploded seconds behind his vehicle.
I 've been criticized for writing what I think Chase thought and felt. My opinions are based on what Chase said to me, my parents, and my brother on the phone and what he wrote in a letter to his sister that "no parent would want their child over here. " What he said to others, what they believe about his motives and convictions before and after he was there, they can examine and write.
Chase 's mother who is divorced from my brother maintains that he told her he was fighting to keep her safe and free. I have deep feelings for her. I 'm a mother. I know it would be difficult to admit that your child died for nothing.
I do believe, though, that history will support this horrible truth. Cindy Sheehan is saying it. I 'm saying it. My children are saying it. My parents are saying it. My brother and sister are saying it. Gold Star Families for Peace are saying it. And those analyzing the recent election in Iraq are indicating that a unified country doesn 't seem possible. Certainly, Bush Inc. will find it increasingly difficult to convince Americans that the deaths and injuries are noble sacrifices.
It took time for us to admit this about Vietnam --a war in which 59,000 Americans died. And it 's estimated that there were over two million Vietnamese casualties. An anguished Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara, in his memoir, apologized for this atrocity. Will Donald Rumsfeld someday regret the invasion of Iraq?
Because Iraq is Vietnam. It 's painful to say this. Oh, how I wish we could have talked Chase out of joining. Many of us tried. But since we couldn 't, I 'd like to think that Chase was flown to Dover and then to Lexington, Kentucky to be eulogized for participating in some great cause, but I will never believe this. Some in my family do. Is this denial --the way they handle grief? To me, Chase 's sacrifice was meaningless, a move so politically motivated by George Bush that I wonder how anyone could trust that this president has any understanding of the Christianity that he says inspires his every action. I know I shouldn 't judge the religious authenticity of anyone. But I just can 't help it. Not only do I doubt Bush 's sincerity, I also question his humanity.