Mother's Day was established in 1870 by anti-war activist Julia Ward-Howe. The years following the Civil War were characterized by continual violence. Although the armistice and surrender had been signed by General Lee, many mercenary soldiers were still actively engaging in guerrilla warfare against civilians. Veterans from both sides were homeless, while mercenary carpetbaggers were pillaging, raping and murdering. Mrs. Howe, published a poem decrying the ravages of war. She insisted on a national day of recognition for our nation's mothers by engaging those same mothers to become citizen activists. Challenging all mothers, she created the holiday for a radical reason-- to end the violence of senseless war.
As I ponder this Mother's Day, I feel strangely disconnected and divorced from the whole affair. In truth I don't count, not according to the arbiters of "normalcy" left in charge of this overly commercialized "holiday." I am female, single and childless-- not exactly the stuff of a Hallmark card. I have not procreated that ideal family of 2.5 children, all going to soccer practice (whether they like it or not).
Yet, I'm one of the lucky ones. I haven't lost a child to the battlefield, like Cindy Sheehan and so many others. My heart and my outrage go out to her and other parents of murdered children.
Of course there are those who will claim that Cindy's beloved son, Casey was not murdered but killed in the line of duty. I would agree-- had this "war" and occupation been one of legitimate purpose, as opposed to the dictates of calloused greed and empire. Unfortunately, that was not the situation. Casey Sheehan, and so many more, signed up to serve their country honorably-- only to find they were sent to serve as real-life expendable pawns in a war of corporate empire.
The entire war was built on a foundation of lies. Iraq posed no strategic threat to the United States, nor had they any involvement in 9/11, and Saddam had no WMD. Saddam was only a triple threat-- but only of incompetence. The only benefit the U.S. occupation of Iraq has produced has come in the form of obscene corporate profits for the likes of Blackwater, Bechtel, Halliburton and other privateers. These companies have generated obscene profits and bled our national coffers dry. They also, indirectly, bled Casey Sheehan dry as well. The corporate war profits have been paid for with our children's blood. To put it bluntly; these soldiers have died in vain. There was no legitimate need for their ultimate sacrifice. They died for corporate greed and nothing more.
Led by 'chickenhawks' who have never truly served, our soldiers found themselves shortchanged on protective equipment, pay and medical care. Relegated to scrounging for spare metal-- they were forced to fashion their own armored vests, while Blackwater mercenaries collected six figure paychecks. The same president and congress sent our troops to forage for medical care in roach infested facilities-- and that while our politicians enjoyed the best, most expensive health care in the U.S., including I suspect, Botox treatments for their wives. When families of military personnel found themselves on food stamps just to keep their children fed, Blackwater mercenaries were enjoying prime rib on the tax dollar. And to add further insult to injury, families were kept in the dark regarding battle conditions. Some soldiers attempting to report the truth on these abusive conditions were reprimanded, while others were found mysteriously-- dead. Meanwhile, executives from Bechtel, Halliburton, Blackwater, et al., were found swimming in blood-money profits. And through it all was Cindy Sheehan. Daring to confront this illegitimate President, she camped out at George's Texas digs. Refusing to accept the official company, I mean Presidential 'line,' she continues to question our public officials.
While the public watches Chelsea Clinton campaign for her mother; Cindy Sheehan lays a memorial wreath for her son. As they see Michelle Obama hug her two adorable daughters; these wartime families hug each other around tombstones. This 'war' has not involved any shared sacrifice between economic classes. While Laura Bush is making final wedding plans for Jenna, the mothers of our slain soldiers are making final plans of a more sober type.
The disparity screams of injustice, yet the presidential candidates and members of congress refuse to de-fund the war. Congress has the power to end the war right now. Congress has ALWAYS had the power to end this war. It does not require a 2/3rds majority; it merely requires the Speaker of the House and the Senate Majority Leader, respectively, to 'table' any more appropriations bills. If these appropriations bills are 'tabled,' the money goes nowhere. When the money runs out (with the exception of a specified amount EARMARKED only for actual troop withdrawal activity), our troops come home. We could begin the withdrawal this Sunday, Mother's Day, in the truest tradition of the one day we honor our mothers.
Mother's day was never intended to provide a politically correct respite from negligent and recalcitrant politicians; it was intended to radicalize all mothers against wars of empire. Mother's Day was a clarion call to action, demanding accountability and transparency from our politicians. Hallmark may have created the card, but Mrs. Howe created the memorial day. Should the war hawks in our midst challenge Julia Ward Howe's patriotic "credentials," they would find themselves eating crow. Mrs. Howe was a renowned abolitionist, activist, poet and songwriter. Ironically, she is the author of the very same "Battle Hymn of The Republic," neocons like Rush Limbaugh tout as their limp "red badge of courage."
Today, the history of Mother's Day is buried under crass commercialism. Corsages, cards and champagne brunches now define the day. I'm sure that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will have a lovely Mother's Day, replete with luxurious touches and shallow complements. Cindy Sheehan will have a very different mother's day--visiting the cemetery along with far too many other parents, their children sacrificed to a war of empire and corporate profit.
In the truest tradition of Mother's Day, let's reclaim the radical activism of Julia Ward-Howe by demanding an immediate end to this occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan. Let's prosecute the criminals who created this "false flag operation" for crimes against humanity. Afterward, let's bring all of our children home. Make Mother's Day meaningful for Cindy Sheehan and all the parents of murdered children. Don't let Casey Sheehan's death be in vain.