A Military Mom in a Mother of a March
left the Codepink
house with my IMPEACH Bush and Cheney T-Shirt,
my peace dog tags and a large strip of pink duct
tape on my chest with the number 3,396 written
in big black numbers on my chest.
I arrived at Lafayette Park with my friend Cindy
K., who is also a military mom. We came little
early to be there to meet people and get something
to eat before the march, We talked about the possibility
of using civil disobedience and what we wanted
to convey in our message when we took the stage
for the rally part of the event. Cindy's soldier
is in Iraq right now and we have all been on edge
waiting to hear news of him. It was her first
Mother's Day without a call from her son. It added
a somber note to our day.
We talked about what kind of group we can start
as military mothers to support and advocate for
our children in service and how we can take action
on their behalf. We started coming up with terms
to explain what we go through as military moms.
The one we decided on was "deployment depression."
How it feels to be a mom knowing your child is
far away in a combat zone and not knowing when
or even if you will ever hear from them again.
It is a miserable existence and we do our best
to put on a good face, but inside I remember feeling
dark and always in crisis mode. We joined three
more military moms that day. Marty, whose child
is also deployed to Iraq, Tina, whose son is now
a veteran with severe post traumatic stress disorder
and Cindy S., who's living our worst nightmare,
her child was killed in Iraq. The sense of energy
and support we generate with are hearts open and
our mother bear instincts on red alert was extremely
energizing and increased my resolve to be fully
present for the actions planned for the day. As
we listened to people talking and repeating the
message of how the United States issues are not
just the war, but the torture, the abuse of veterans,
the oppression of the poor, the lack of healthcare,
the shameful and detrimental foreign policies
that this administration has shoved down the throat
of the world.............only one solution came
to light for me: IMPEACHMENT. Impeachment of all
of the criminals in the white house and their
accomplices in the house and senate. This administration
and their minions are responsible for millions
of deaths world wide and the extermination and
genocide just continues.
With this is mind, I took the stage. The image
of my hands drenched in blood leaving hand prints
on every Congressional representative and Senators
door that voted for this illegal and immoral war
flashed in my mind. The White House no longer
white but covered in the bright red and dark and
crusted black red of new and old blood. When is
it going to be enough for the American people?
I talked about our troops and how we love them
and just want them to come home safe and sound.
We want them to be a part of the solution at home
by helping rebuild New Orleans and healing our
Nation as part of positive social programs. The
rate of PTSD would go down if they were doing
their real job to protect and serve, not being
forced to participate as innocent civilians and
children are killed needlessly.
Then I also talked about our own mental health
and the state of our own hearts, realizing that
it is crucial that we keep our hearts open to
the good and the love that we know we all generate
in this movement. If you find yourself jaded or
full of hatred, take a step back, take a breath
and come back when you feel better. We have to
stay strong, healthy and remember to take a breath.
As I spoke I gazed at the crowd and saw my daughter
there watching me. Our mutual admiration took
my attention for a moment. How far we have come
in such a short time. Here I was speaking with
powerful peace activists in front of the "white"
house and she was standing there with her IVAW
friends looking clear and strong in the moment.
How blessed we are to be traveling this life together.
As we prepare for the "Mother of a March"
we are asked that military mom's lead the way
holding the banner that says, " Not one more
mother's child" and we chanted as we departed,
"Stop the funding, stop the war! Mother's
say, NOT ONE MORE!" We chanted this as we
marched our way through the streets of Washington
DC finally ending up walking up Pennsylvania Avenue
right past the tourists with cameras, students
with wide eyes and cautious security guards wondering
what these radical peaceful activists will do
to them. We took a brief stop in front of the
Justice department where we chanted, "Sham
Shame Shame" and Cindy S. took up the bullhorn
and talked about the severe and deadly injustices
that this US "justice" department has
been complicit in.
We continued up the Avenue and would our way
through the Capitol of our Nation. At the point
where we were almost to the capitol, a former
officer in the military who was leading us in
prayer and chanting made an announcement saying
that from the time we left Lafayette park to then
our number of dead military in Iraq increased
by two more of our brave children in the military.
Tears began to flow and our grief was overwhelming.
We held each other with tears and our chanting
volume and intensity increased dramatically as
we marched on.
We had no permit for this so we were stopping
traffic and a few police cars actually charged
us at times. Guess they did not get the memo that
we were coming to town(haha) We reached the intersection
where the members of Congress cross the street
from their offices to the Capitol. My voice was
hoarse from chanting, Dede had put a little microphone
with my own speaker around my neck, but my voice
was still raw. The energy was increasing and I
was totally caught up with my sisters in the call
for congress to impeach and arrest the war criminals.
I noticed that the police officers were gathering
forces as the vans, bicycles, black suburbans
and uniformed officers filed out of the buildings
around us. My heartbeat increased again. Cameras
were everywhere and we were oblivious to them
knowing that we were reaching our destination
and our decision was almost upon us.
we reached the intersection, our fearless organizer
was checking in with us, asking if we were going
to go through and be arrested. I was so furiously
and emotionally charged I started to look for
my daughter to hand her my stuff as the mothers
with the banner walked in a circle inside a circle
of people making the choice to be arrested. In
the middle of it all was the American flag, flying
high and proud. I was marching and feeling the
thrill of breaking the law. All I wanted to do
is stay with my sisters, the other military moms.
My friend Tina screamed, " We have to show
them we are serious!!!!" I found my daughters
eyes and motioned her to come get my stuff. She
shook her head and she and our dear friend Geoff
both screamed at me to get out of there fast.
I shook my head no, I can't leave my sisters,
they persisted and I saw the urgency in my daughters
eyes, her own traumatic arrest still fresh in
our hearts, and I wrenched myself away from the
circle and ran to my daughter with a sob. As I
was heading out, a man asked me to take his video
camera as he was going to be arrested and I agreed.
I ran to my daughter and hung my head in shame
and grief, my emotions overwhelming me. Once I
got myself under control I stood witness as my
friends and sisters stood their ground in the
middle and were one by one arrested. We continued
to chant and remind the police officers to be
gentle. For the most part I saw them trying to
be careful after they were reminded that these
women are mothers and grandmothers. I turned my
microphone back on and yelled at them how brave
they are and thanking them for standing up. We
told the police that they should be arresting
the real criminals. Bush and his administration.
I was still shaking with emotion as they led people
to the vans and drove them away. I am so blessed
that Suzanne and Geoff were there with me explaining
what was going on and helping me calm down. The
last van pulled away and we waved and told them
we loved them.
Even though, rationally, know I did the right
thing, for my family, my own self longed to be
with them in the vans.
Later that evening as Suzanne and I made our
way back to the Codepink house I talked about
my sense of guilt and shame for having not followed
through with the civil disobedience fire that
was so consuming. She told me that being arrested
was not glamorous and does not make me more patriotic.
She reminded me that I have been working against
this war and for peace consistently for years
and even sent my beloved child to war.
She looked at me and smiled. At that moment,
everything was all right.
3,398. We will continue. We will not be silent.
Sara, proud mom of Suzanne