Family Matters

05/25/2011 11:45 am ET

I've been thinking a lot these days about Ms. Cindy Sheehan, her crusade, and our President's reaction to it. As the mother of four -- one of them a seventeen-year-old son -- I am drawn intuitively to her grief. I can think of nothing worse than the death of a child. Every day there are more op-eds about the war in Iraq -- and every day there are stories of valor, death, patriotism, and agony. War is a messy business, fraught with danger and death, and there is no guarantee of success. We are at war, yet it feels as though the people of the United States have yet to fully participate in its tragic consequences. And Ms. Sheehan is using her voice, and her actions -- in a non-violent way -- to protest it.

I respect the process our forefathers set in place, and honor and pay allegiance to our flag, our country, and our leader-in-chief. I do not always agree with the President's policies, and therefore use my voice, my resources, and my vote to let my opinion be known. As a teenager, I was among those on college campuses who participated in peaceful sit-ins and rallies to protest the Viet Nam war. I had lost contemporaries in that war -- my neighborhood had its share of casualties. Nevertheless, I am honored to be an American, and understand that our freedom was hard-won, and continues to be something we must protect.

That said, it is abundantly clear that there is a disconnect in this country -- or at least there is a disconnect in the comprehension of war in this country. We have sent thousands of troops to Iraq and Afghanistan, and there are dreadful sacrifices being made -- by our own American troops, the civilian and military personnel of those countries, and our Alliance partners as well. Those of us here at home who ultimately benefit from the ultimate sacrifices of our military personnel and their families should be doing something tangible to help.

But our leadership -- the President, and our Congress -- is not sending a clear and consistent message to the public about sacrifices we should be making. How about asking us to reduce our oil consumption? How about honoring our fallen soldiers every single day. How about sharing information about how to help the families of those soldiers who have been killed or horribly wounded? Do you think any of those families get five weeks of paid vacation? Nope. They are barely making ends meet.

Cindy Sheehan's protest is a catalyst for all mothers in the same painful situation. She's doing the only thing she can think of get the true cost of this war in the forefront, in the media, and finally on the minds of all Americans. She's in pain -- and as this country watches her family fall apart, we should all recognize that the sacrifices being made by our young servicemen and women have severe consequences that reverberate to each and every one of us. Freedom is NOT free. We should all be paying the cost.

Do something for our troops. Stand up for them. Visit and see how you can help.