Mother’s Day, 2012, and We’re Still at War
by Murray Polner: Hiroshima
& Nagasaki: 66 Years Later
After the carnage
of World War II the members of the now defunct Victory Chapter of
American Gold Star Mothers in St. Petersburg, Florida, knew better
than most what is was like to lose their sons, daughters and husbands
in war. "We’d rather not talk about it," said Ceil Rindfuss
whose son was killed in WWII. She told the St. Petersburg Times
in 1960, "It’s a terrible scar that never heals. We hope there
will never be another war so no other mothers will have to go through
this ordeal." But as a result of the invasion of Iraq, too
many now mourn family members lost to war.
know that Mother’s Day was initially suggested by two peace-minded
mothers, Julia Ward Howe, a 19th century anti-slavery
activist and suffragette, and Anna Reeves Jarvis, mother of eleven,
who influenced Howe and had asked her fellow Appalachian townspeople,
badly polarized by the Civil War, to remain neutral and help nurse
the wounded troops of both sides. While neither lived to see an
official Mother’s Day, it was eventually designated as a national
holiday by President Woodrow Wilson in 1914, a president whose armies
invaded Mexico, brought the U.S. into World War I and whose administration
carried out brutal punishments against opponents of the World War
I and the draft, such as Eugene V. Debs. It was Wilson who once
declared that, "A war of service is a thing in which it is
a proud thing to die" – a sentiment by someone who had never
served in the military and which reminds me of Charles Edward Montague’s
classic putdown of living room heroes, "War hath no fury like
never had children, my favorite female opponent of war and imperialism
was the forgotten poet and feminist Katharine Lee Bates who wrote
"America the Beautiful" as a poem in 1895, now virtually
our second national anthem. My favorite Bates anti-war poem is "Glory,"
in which an officer heading for the front bids farewell to his tearful
he raged in that lurid hell
Where the country he loved had thrown him.
"You are promoted!" shrieked a shell.
His mother would not have known him."
many may no longer remember Lenore Breslauer, a mother of two children,
who helped establish Another Mother for Peace during the Vietnam
War. By the end of the sixties the group had 450,000 members and
sympathizers, inspired by its ingenious and telling theme: "War
is not healthy for children and other living beings." Years
later, the message was not lost on three mothers on Long Island,
N.Y., with the first name of Carol who initiated Mothers and Others
Against War in 1979 to protest against Jimmy Carter’s resurrection
of draft registration. They stayed on to battle against Ronald Reagan’s
military intervention in El Salvador and Nicaragua. What these mothers
and others recognized quite clearly was that war and the draft helped
kill and grievously wound hundreds of thousands of troops and millions
of civilians in places like Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and
who knows where else.
On this Mother’s
Day we could use more of the anger and dissenting spirit of countless
numbers of women and mothers who have condemned male-created and
dominated wars. In Russia, mothers joined together and protested
using their drafted sons as cannon fodder wars in Afghanistan and
Chechnya. In Argentina and Chile, mothers and grandmothers protested
the murders and disappearances of their children by the neo-fascist
barbarians who ran their nations in the late seventies and early
eighties. And in our country the anti-war movement has often been
led by women, demonstrating, in essence, against "those who
think that War is a glorious golden thing…invoking Honor and Praise
and Valor and Love of Country" – as a bitter Roland Leighton,
a British combat soldier of WWI, wrote long ago to his fiancée,
the British antiwar writer Vera Brittain.
this Mother’s Day, peace seems further away then ever. Even so,
my hope is that more and more American mothers and all other women
who have remained silent will continue to work against our now and
future wars and the ever-present possibility of drafting their young.
Do we still need to glorify war and military service? Do we need
yet another war memorial to the dead in Washington? Do we need more
war widows and mothers grieving for the rest of their lives over
their dead husbands and wives, children and grandchildren? Do we
really need to continue disseminating the myth that an idealistic
America always fights for freedom and democracy no matter the cost
On this Mother’s
Day, more than 4500 U.S. troops have died in Iraq and Afghanistan
and many more have been wounded in body and mind in elective and
ideologically inspired wars. They all had mothers.
him mail] wrote
Victory Parades: The Return of the Vietnam Veteran and most
recently co-authored Disarmed
and Dangerous, a biography of Dan and Phil Berrigan, and
with Thomas Wood Jr. wrote and edited We
Who Dared Say No To War. He served in the U.S. army.
© 2012 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in
part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.
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