Wow, hard to believe such a defining moment in my life passed by and I almost forgot about it! I say defining because as my bio hints, I was a Blue Star mother six times over as my sons – Marine and Soldier – were deployed to Iraq or other war zones in the Middle East. And my oldest, Kris-the-Marine infantryman, was there for the invasion. And I made the mistake of becoming way too invested in knowing what was going on.
I was still in college, majoring in Journalism, and had access to all sorts of investigative tools and made it my business to learn all I could about what the U.S. would be up against, what the Marines would be in for. And I learned the embedded reporters names and when they would file reports, I’d download the transcripts and parse them, sharing them with a few other parents of fellow Marines in Kris’ unit. After that first deployment, I learned. I learned to detach and accept that no matter what I knew, it would never change things, so for the most part, during Kris’ following deployments, I took on the ignorance is bliss mindset. Notso with Pete, my baby. He’d cringe to hear me say that but I don’t think he reads this, so, it’s OK. It was different with him, an armored infantryman. I wasn’t as obsessive about the news as I’d been during that first deployment, but I did set up a Google alert “Anbar Province” where he was deployed.
The thing is, I’m just one of many military families radically effected by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And I’m going on record to say we should never have invaded Iraq, but kept our resources and focus on Afghanistan, providing breathing room to the new government instead of allowing the weeds of radical Taliban renew and retake most of the country as they did. For a while I was loud, vocal and critical but, like worry, realized it wouldn’t get me anywhere.
So I learned to paint to take my mind off it and to focus on something more life-affirming and positive instead. And today was a splendid day of painting and creating. Still, I can’t help but be disheartened when I think about the trillions of dollars our country has wasted – yes, wasted (in economics, one learns there are good expenditures and bad – war is one of the most wasteful of all) – on these wars. Fortunately, my sons came home from war and after some tough times, they’re doing pretty well and I’m very proud of both. Other families, though, are not so fortunate.