Now Playing: Arthur Ruger
Topic: Members Speak Out
If parents with children in Iraq support the war more than the general population it's because they have skin in the game, as do we. We are not yet qualified to be members of Cindy's Gold Star Families, nor do we ever want to qualify. It takes the loss of a family member to qualify.
I think that when a parent loses a child to war or a spouse loses a mate, or someone loses a sibling the immediate and often most enduring reaction in addition to the shocked grieving is an anger that will express itself either at the reason for the loss or any suggestion that the loss was not justified.
Long before Mrs. Sheehan we've seen nationally instances of grieving mothers and fathers driven to confront BushCO at their conventions, speaking engagements and directly to the White House. The typifying example is the mom in Fahrenheit 9/11 who started out so proud of her family's military heritage and ended in horrible agony outside the White House.
The poorest method for how NOT to deal with a relative's grief -with one exception in this year's State of the Union Address - has been repeatedly modeled by the President, his administration and politcal advisors. This both in terms of relatives angry at Bush as well as relatives in support.
However, to be fair, every relative whose soldier pays the ultimate price for our country deserves exactly the same kind of acknowledgment and consolation - something impossible to achieve and something Bushco knows it should have been doing in some form from the start.
We've also seen what happens when that anger is aimed at anything that questions the value of a soldier's death in war. Outspoken grieving realtives seem to subconsiously ache to tell SOMEBODY to shut the f*** up, to give SOMEBODY their comeuppance and to make SOMEBODY account for the loss. In a context of compassion these not only are best left alone and given individual respect, regard and space for their circumstance of agony. They are too locked into an outrage that needs focus in some specific direction.
But the context of death and loss of course is not normal and when those bereaved speak out indict a president his supporters are wont to scream "foul" regardless of the fact that grieving relatives have no political mandate to keep quiet. Nor should they.
Angry relatives have the right of free expression which corresponds with our own. From our point of view we work to avoid the same kind of agony for any other soldier's families, avoid needless loss of life, that - as we see it - does not happen for a just and noble reason.
Which puts us immediately at risk of being perceived as diminishing the value of a soldier's life. It is an issue of semantics and context, academic concepts that are useful but pale in comparison with the emotion and passion of family love, unity and sense of patriotic community with all citizens of the nation.
Yet, getting a verbal handle on the actuality of the war, of death and destruction and of the reasons for it are at the heart of the matter. At this time the flamingng passion of those opposing is on the rise and BushCo seems to have only gasoline to pour on it.