By William T. Hathaway
(Warning: This one is not for the easily offended.)
RADICAL PEACE is a collection of reports from antiwar activists, the true stories of their efforts to change our warrior culture. In this chapter a mother tells of her son’s return from combat. She wishes to remain anonymous.
My son spent a year fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq in Delta Force. It was the worst year of his life … and of mine. As he told me later, there were times he thought he’d never come home. That was also my constant fear. For 365 days, every time the phone rang I thought it would be a voice from the Pentagon telling me with well-practiced condolence that my son had died a hero.
Jim had joined the army after college. I think he was trying to finally win his father’s approval. The old man was a West Pointer who had served a long military career, including two tours in Vietnam, and retired a colonel. He probably would’ve made general if it hadn’t been for his drinking. He never showed much interest in Jim and me, preferring the camaraderie of his soldier buddies.
We divorced when Jim was in high school. The colonel didn’t ask for visitation rights, and Jim was crushed when it became obvious that his dad didn’t care about seeing him.
Jim and the colonel had little in common. Jim wasn’t the military type — he didn’t go in for rough sports or violent movies. He was a sensitive boy who liked to read. He and I had similar interests and could communicate well together, much better than most mothers and teenaged sons. More…