Saturday, March 31, 2007

One Mad Marine Mom on a Mission

Cross-posted at BlueSunbelt, My Left Wing and Diatribune.

Back in February, I wrote a diary at Dkos titled: Why I Fight... For Peace based on the plight of one tough, take no prisoners, Marine mom named Tina Richards. Her website is here.

In January, at first communication with Tina, I instantly admired her for two reasons -- her love for her son, and her love for this country - love for both so deep, so passionate, she's willing to take on Washington D.C. by herself if need be? to honor that love.

With our help, she won't be fighting alone?

In February's diary, I included a couple of heartfelt poems written by her son, Marine Corporal Cloy Richards, during his two-deployments in Iraq. Tina's website is here. Be sure to check out the videos depicting some of her recent battles in the halls of the U.S. Congress, including her U.S. Capitol Police escort out of Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office. (by the way, that was Tina giving David Obey a piece of her mind in that video clip played repeatedly on You Tube, CNN and other news outlets a couple weeks ago)

Tina's plight, or more accurately, her fight, began back in January 2003 with Cloy's upcoming first U.S. Marine Corp deployment to Iraq. Little did she know at the time, that deployment would set the agenda for the next 3+ years of her life and beyond. Cloy's home now but Tina's fight is nowhere near over. In fact, her struggle will not end until every other mother's son and daughter in America is home from Iraq as well... and, this time for good.

Below is a recent letter that one tough, take no prisoners, Marine mom sent me. Please take a few minutes to read it. This is the issue of our time.

We must embrace it.

In her own words, this is why Tina Richards fights... for peace.

Just before my son's first deployment in January 2003, he gave me a key chain, "Marine Mom, Toughest Job In The Corp."  I had no idea how true this slogan was to become.

"Mom, I've never seen you cry, " my son told me before his first deployment in 2003, "now is not the time to start." 

Seeing your first-born and only son off to war is one of the most difficult experiences a mother goes through.  As a Marine Mom, it must be done bravely.  I did not look upon him as a man, but as my baby I held in my arms 18 years before.  Yet I entrusted the United States Marines Corp would take care of my son and ensure he would have everything he needed to go to war.  Unfortunately, I already knew when I had to purchase his combat boots for Christmas, this was a forewarning of what was to come. 

For two tours of duties, I waited for news that my son was alive.  When I received the news, I would react with tears and joy.  As I would hang up the phone or finish reading the email, I would be overwhelmed with guilt knowing another mother was receiving the news her son was returning in a flagged draped coffin. 

When he returned, I was faced with a military ready to discard him.  A man torn from the horrors of war.  A person I did not recognize except fleetingly from a glimmer in his eyes.  His cries were desperate; a call in the middle of the night as he held the gun in his mouth.  "Mom, I've killed too many innocent Iraqi women and children," he pleaded, "I don't deserve to live."  As an artillery man, he trusted his Commanding Officers to give orders to kill insurgents, not women and children.

But I did not cry.  At least not in front of anyone.

For almost two years, I watched my son struggle to regain his life.  The injuries, physically and mentally, from this war seemed insurmountable.  The VA sent him letters, "Don't call us, we'll call you," combined with substandard care.  As we fought for what he deserved, I fought to keep him alive.  I was not going to lose him to this war after he made it home alive from two tours.

He found fighting for peace and poetry as a means to live.

I walked the halls of congress with my sons poem to find justice for our veterans and an end to the war.  His report date back to service was March 24.  How could they send him after he honorably served and was honorably discharged?  He was offered special treatment from congressman and senators, but he refused.  How could he accept any help with his brothers and sisters dying in Iraq?  At every turn I was told the impossible cannot happen.  I knew a miracle must. 

On March 24 as I was driving to New York City, my son was personally handed his combat related disability papers.  At 80% disabled, he will not have to return.


  I cried.  I rejoiced.  Never tell a Marine Mom something cannot be done.

Then the overwhelming feeling of guilt hit me again.  Someone else's child would go in his place.  As long as this occupation rages on, I cannot sleep soundly.  Each day my son struggles as this war tears at him.  I cannot enjoy this miracle until I know everyone of our sons and daughters are home. 

So as I walk the halls of congress alone, I notice something missing.  Where were the people in the people's house? 

The citizen lobbyist is out-numbered a thousand to one, though, in these halls. I see lobbyist from all the defense contractors by the hundreds.  I have always wondered why we have a war department but not a department of peace.  It is no wonder when our representatives are talking with the profiteers of war a thousand more times then they talk with those who see diplomacy as a means and our military as the final and last resort.

I was recently at a dinner with Garrett Reppenhagen of Iraq Vets Against the War, where he related his meeting with Senator Kerry.  "Senator Kerry told me, 'I have met with five hundreds people this week, and you are the only one here talking of peace,'" said Garrett.  Until those numbers change, each generation will see war enter their lives.  No matter how hard we work to protect our children, parents will suffer as we send our children off to war.

So Join me in DC... let's reclaim our Democracy.

Folks, this is as much our mission as it is the Richards' family. Every single one of us here and across the left blogosphere wants to end this immoral occupation. We need to focus as much attention and energy on bringing our sons & daughters home as we did to elect Democrats last year.

I implore everyone to donate if you can. Give your time and efforts if you can't. Link the website on your blogs and homepages. It only takes a moment. Then, start peppering your respective congress critters with emails. Tell your friends and family. Tell your colleagues. Ask whomever you can to help in anyway they can.

As I said earlier, this is the issue of our day, perhaps of our generation. Please, please help here.

Please don't let one mad Marine mom fight this fight alone. (although, I've no doubt she'd try)

Below is Tina's itinerary: 

* March 29th
  Activities in Hart Senate Building.
  Bev Smith Show, American Urban Radio Network 7:00 to 8:00 PM

* March 30th
  11:00 A.M. Cannon House Office Building, Washington DC.
  Corner Independence & New Jersey
  Joining with other Military Families, Iraq Veterans, and
  Active  Duty Military to ask once again why Nancy Pelosi refuses to meet with us

* March 31st
  Noon Peace Vigil at Capitol, Quaker Sponsored
  KKPO-FM, Donald Lacy Host of San Francisco 12:15 PM
  KKFI w/ Sondra Lockhart of Kansas City 3-4 pm

  Congress in Recess

* April 1st
  Maryland Statewide Peace Coalition Meeting

* April 4th
  Memphis TN, Make Hip Hop Not War Tour w/ Rev. Yearwood

* April 6th-8th
  Camp Casey, Make Hip Hop Not War Tour

* April 9th
  Move to Maryland (all assistance will be appreciated)

* April 16th
  Launch Campaign to assist Veterans Dishonorably discharged due to PTSD related problems.
  Pressure Joint Committee on Funding of War.
  Launch Campaign to assist Reserve and Active Duty military deployed or due to deploy that are not in medical condition to deploy.

* Meet with Nancy Pelosi.
  (preferably not with the Capitol Police)

Tomorrow, Part Two -- Tina's Plan to end the Occupation - Or, how to correctly use an irresistible force to actually move an immovable object.

Please go to the website.