Guest Column: Bereaved mother sets the record straight

I would appreciate the opportunity to respond to information appearing in your Feb. 28-March 6, 2007 edition. My picture, on the front page, is captioned, “Mother’s quest continues for her son.” I know my son’s body was sent home so broken that “only the experts in Dover” could dress it for burial. I know his last words were “automatic rotate,” addressed to the flight engineer, putting the helicopter he was piloting into emergency mode. I had a stone of pearl gray granite, imported from Norway, placed on his grave.

Your caption on page A6 says Brian was flying a Blackhawk when he was shot down. A Blackhawk is small and armed. Brandon was flying a Chinook 47, a large, unarmed, unescorted troop transport helicopter. It was routed over Fallujah, a known site of resistance fighters. There were 36 people on board.

I do not seek my son. I seek justice. How long will greedy, cowardly men be allowed to wantonly destroy lives and rain terror on the world? Can we learn a lesson from the Sioux? Each feather in the Sioux war bonnet was earned by an act of bravery. Killing an enemy in battle earned a feather. Touching an enemy without harming him, “counting coup,” also earned a feather. When you touch an enemy without harming him, he owes you his life. He knows. He will remember.

Dare we count coup? Can we recognize the valor of touching without destroying? Can we honor such a daring act? Can we dream the dream of the Sioux warrior? Can we undertake the spirit quest of a brave and great nation? Time will tell. I hope so. If we cannot love our enemies, can we, like the Sioux, recognize our common ground? They, like us, are human.

Rosemarie Slavenas is a Rockford resident.

from the April 11-17, 2007, issue

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