My heart goes out this Mother's Day to the moms of the 750 or so Idahoans - my neighbors - whose children received word Saturday that they'll be joining the mess in Iraq this fall. The Idaho Army National Guard's 116th Calvary Brigade has been on alert since Leap Year Day, but yesterday the word came down: They'll head for Fort Bliss in Texas within weeks and join soldiers from Montana, Oregon, North Dakota, and Utah in preparing for action overseas. It's the largest mobilization of troops in Idaho history.
Many of the affected moms have 18-, 19-, and 20-year-olds - the young adults who have been bearing the brunt of the escalating casulaties. Many joined the Guard to get money for school, in some cases well before Bush began this war of choice. Other Guard members are themselves moms - women who will be leaving behind children, husbands, homes, and jobs to fight in the name of a freedom that is proving far more elusive and in conditions far more dangerous than American military planners anticipated.
At a time like this, when we see war siphoning off so many people from our neighborhoods, we ask: How do we honor these people's commitment to serve us while continuing to express our anger at the policies and decisions that put them in harm's way? We must do both - and we must continue to resist the right-wingers who say it's impossible to support the troops without supporting Bush's policy of preemptive, unnecessary war. So today, I pray for the moms of the soldiers and the moms who are soldiers. I pray for the moms of Iraq, who have lost so many of their own children these past 14 months. Finally, and most fervently, I pray for an end to an administration whose rash, ideological agenda is making a mockery of the sort of freedom Americans really stand for.
P.S. You probably know that Mother's Day originated as an anti-war observance. No? Read this.