Gold Star Families reflect on the end of the Iraq War

In Our Breath and On the Wind

From Celeste Zappala, Mother of Sgt Sherwood Baker, KIA 4/26/04 Baghdad

I heard the news of the war ending late on Friday.  It seemed an odd time to release such serious news, and made my family and I think that this news was being treated just as the war has been treated for years, it is inconsequential to the American public, a bad after thought not even worth a prime time news conference.

We lost our beloved son Sherwood Baker to the war that never should have happened.  He died protecting those looking for WMD long after everyone knew they were not there.  He never comes back, he never gets to watch his son grow up,  there is no chance for correction, his life was blown out of him on April 26, 2004.  We knew it was wrong when it happened, we know it is still wrong, he and the other 4478 soldiers should have never been in Iraq in the first place.

So we can rejoice that a day will come when soldiers will not be in danger in Iraq, and we can pray that all those injured in body and spirit will be offered the healing they need and deserve.  Can we promise them we as a Nation will never again send them in to wars based on lies? I fear not, I fear the business of war will always require a market, and unless we are all powerfully vocal, the idea of wars of choice will perpetuate.

For me, within my soul, I will always be in the windy cemetary hearing the guns salute my boy lying  in his casket on the ground in front of me;  that moment is as close as my breath, as is the last moment I held him close to me.

Yes the war is over, and for some of us, it will always be in our breath and on the wind.

A Sense of the Bittersweet

From Diane and Neil Santoriello, parents of 1st Lt. Neil A. Santoriello Jr., KIA 8-13-04

We have a sense of the bittersweet. So many lives wasted. Our son was the 930th soldier to die in Iraq  There have been more than 3000 deaths since his. What will be the final total?  Somewhere there is an American soldier who will be the last soldier to die in Iraq. Survivoring families are scarred forever. We welcome our troops homecoming but we hope the government will give them the help and support they need. Now we need to bring our troops home from  Afghanistan  and use our tax dollars to do nation building at home.

Iraq…My Reactions

From Cheryl Felder-Stuart, mother of Cpt Arthur “BO” Felder, killed 4/24/04

I am Cheryl Felder-Stuart my son Cpt Arthur “BO” Felder, commander of the 39th Infantry from Arkansas was killed on April 24, 2004.  I am happy and I am thrilled that no other mother will have to suffer as I have.  I have had two heart surgeries and I had to take a medical retirement since my son was killed.  When we told my mother her oldest grand son was killed in Iraq she died.

THANK GOD this is over.