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By Amy Branham, Gold Star Mother
There is pain in my soul this morning as I sit at this keyboard. It is an all-encompassing feeling that reverberates through my whole body. This is a pain that I cannot ignore and will not go away.
Sometime this week, maybe even today, the war in Iraq will claim the 2000th life of an American soldier killed in the line of duty. Let me repeat that last sentence in a more humanistic way: 2000 of America’s sons and daughters have died in Iraq in the war. 2000 warriors have died, have been brought home in flag-draped caskets that most of this country will never see. 2000 families have had their lives forever changed and their hearts forever broken. 2000 mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, husbands and wives either have or will bury their hearts when they bury their hero.
No matter what the politics are of each person in this country, whether we agree with George Bush, et al., or are a peacekeeper, we must recognize that these warriors gave their all for our country. Many believed they were fighting for freedom and democracy because that’s what their Commander in Chief told them. That is what their leaders told them. They gave their lives willingly for their country and we must honor their sacrifice.
In a day and a time when death and war is sanitized by the media and our government, we must press on and make them understand that death and war has a human face and a human cost. Our warriors, the sons and daughters of America, are not faceless numbers and statistics. Our heroes are not expendable. Their lives have meaning, their memories are worth keeping alive. Their tragic deaths must be remembered.
Today I honor and I remember my only son, Sgt. Jeremy Russell Smith, who died at the age of 22 on February 13, 2004. Jeremy was a student at ITT when he was called to serve his country full time. By now he would have been finished with his education and would be working with his second love, computers. In my home I have two computers that Jeremy built himself from the ground up. Jeremy’s first love was the Army where he learned the meaning of the words Honor, Duty and Country. I will forever miss Jeremy’s goofy smile that he tried to hide. Never again will I hear Jeremy’s voice as he calls out "Hello, Mother!" as he walks into the room. Only in my dreams will I ever touch his face again. My son will never marry and he will never have children of his own for me to spoil rotten.
Cindy Sheehan tells me what she misses about her son, Casey, "I miss CASEY. I miss when he would call me from Ft. Hood and say "Hi, Mom". I miss going to the movies with him. I miss his steady presence on the earth. I miss my big boy, my best friend."
From Jane Bright whose son, Evan, died in this ugly war: "Evan was a future leader, a loving and giving son, husband, brother, nephew and grandson. He was one of the best and the brightest. He was a classical pianist, a gifted student, and one of the sweetest men I have ever known. I am blessed to have him as my son. He will always be with us, in our hearts, guiding us through difficult times as he did the soldiers who looked up to him. We don’t know why he had to die for Bush’s lies. As Cindy says, "for what noble cause did our children die?"
Please, do not let our heroes become faceless, expendable statistics in the history books. We must remember them, honor them, respect them. For those of us who loved them with every fiber of our being, do not let their sacrifice be for nothing. The citizens of our country owe them that. The leaders of our country who sent them to die in a foreign country, far away from those they loved, owe them that.
Mother of Sgt. Jeremy R. Smith
Nov. 1981 - Feb. 2004