Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Don't Do Nothing

Whatdya know, I made the paper again:

http://www.news-gazette.com/news/opinions/letters/2007/05/02/keep_champaign__soldier_in_prayers

As it turns out, I've been struggling with a post about being a soldier's Mother for the last 6 days.

For you newcomers, my son, Brian, was deployed to Kuwait on March 9. This military stuff is new to me, and it seems like an eternity. Our last phone call was 3 weeks ago. It lasted 1 minute, 53 seconds, in which time he told me there would be no more e-mail or telephone contact, for quite some time.

For the rest of you, I'm happy to report that we finally got an e-mail from him, on Sunday afternoon:
I'm very busy and havent been able to put a letter together yet. I'm doing well. Its getting pretty warm here. Makes it hard to stay clean. I got your package. Thank you much. I'll write you when i get a chance. Love you, Brian
I was at the coffee shop when I read that, and Momo and Mike can attest to my great excitement. I hooped and hollered, and got right on the phone to call his father. "Check your e-mail, check it now!"

I'm not sure where he was at the time, but it wasn't long before I got a call back from him; he got one too! Yay! He got e-mail too, ohmigod, we are both so relieved.

It's been a rough couple of weeks. 3 weeks since we've heard from Brian, and we had no idea how long it would be before we got word from him. Will it be days, weeks, or months? Did he get our mail? Is he writing us? Is he ok?

Having so few answers so far, news of 9 soldiers lost in one battle shook me to the core. And then again, of one of our own, Lucas Starcevich, from Tolono...I cannot imagine his family's pain, and yet, I do, even in my sleep.

It is the following entry, that I have been struggling with, and finally decided I could not write. Everyone reading here knows me; what could I say to you that wasn't stating the obvious? But there are a few more in the mix now, and I feel somehow obligated to talk to them.

So, new readers. Thanks for dropping in.

*********

Our community has lost a soldier.

Pfc. Lucas Starcevich, from Tolono, was killed on his second tour of duty in Iraq, on April 16. Though we did not know him personally, his loss rocked our burg. Champaign, Urbana, Tolono, and all of the surrounding small towns mourn for him and his family.

I did not know him. I did not know his family. As the days have gone by, connections have been made; there are few degrees of separation in a community our size. Brian's brother, Dustin, is on the track team with Lucas' little sister.

I had been out of town, and discovered by accident on Friday morning that the funeral procession was going right by my workplace. I ran out for an errand, and noted this scene on the overpass:


I parked at the end of the street, and walked up, to meet these guys.


They were very kind as I approached, and listened as I told them that my son was in Iraq, and asked them about their lives. Lawhorn is on the left. He's been in for 7 years, and has a wife and a baby. He has done one tour in Iraq, and is considering returning for another. His wife doesn't care for the idea.

Jessup is on the right; he's served 9 years. I (somewhat) jokingly asked him "Does your Mother still cry?"

She does.

I called my boss and told him I'd be back when this was over. And I joined these guys. Everyone was so nice. One of the firefighters, whom my research tells me was Lt. Dan Brown, from Champaign, approached me and invited me to sit in the truck to get out of the wind, and stay warm.

When the procession was in sight, all of the men climbed up on the trucks, with flags, and stood at attention. They invited me to join them, and I did. I'm nervous with heights, and was fidgety and choked up, and climbed back down after only a few minutes. But I was honored by their invitation, more than they'll ever know.



As the procession advanced toward us, escorted by police officers, firetrucks, patriot guards, I stood also, in front of these men.

Just one more mother.

And my tears fell like rain.

This is my son also. He's your son, your brother, your friend. His family your family.

I'm proud to be from a community that showed their support to the Starcevich family on Friday morning. We lined the streets. A principal of one school rescheduled standardized testing for the day, so the students could stand at attention along the procession route. I have neighbors that took the day off to stand on the route. Momo's husband Mike rode, with what seemed like hundreds of others, with the Patriot Guards that day.

After the procession, Jessup and Lawhorn climbed down from that truck, and with absolutely no reservations, I gave each of them a hug. "This is from your mother," I told them.

And I went back to work.

*****

That's about as far as I got, without totally tripping up.

I don't know what I hope to accomplish by writing about Lucas Starcevich. I don't want to sensationalize this tragedy. I know everyone wants this war to end.

Honestly, I want to rant and rail. I want to grab you by the lapels, and look you in the eyes, and say: "This really is happening. There is a community somewhere, everyday, lining its streets, and sending servicemen and firefighters to wave giant flags over highway overpasses!! Don't you see? Doesn't everyone see?"

But this I also know: Everyone does see. I don't know anyone that isn't sickened by this war, and the daily tragedies and grief and pain that result from it.

I feel helpless. I can't just stand here! What am I going to do?

Well. I'm going to continue to read and educate myself on political issues, vote for the candidates I think will make a difference, and sign the petitions I believe in.

I'm making contributions to Anysoldier.com. If you don't personally know a soldier, help out an anonymous one. There's a family out there that has adopted MY son, and I love them for it. The more people that love your kid, the better, I always said.

I'm looking into http://www.gi-bracelet.org/.

I'm sending sensible and whimsical stuff to my son, in hopes that what he can't use, he has a buddy that will: I know Lathrop likes to draw; maybe a few art supplies for him?

I'm supporting the USO, anyone that can make my soldier babies laugh for a day gets my spare change.

I am doing, kids, anything that makes me feel like I did anything.

It is what I can do.

Because I can't do nothing.

I simply cannot.

I hope you'll join me in not doing nothing.

And thanks for stopping by. I hope to hear from you.

Really.




http://www.news-gazette.com/news/local/2007/04/28/we_are_forever_grateful_to_this_hero

Memorials to the Starcevich family can be made to the memorial fund at Busey Bank for an educational fund in his name, American Legion or VFW of the donor's choice or the Champaign County Humane Society.

20 comments:

  1. Your posts about your son continue to resonate with me particularly as a newer father with another on the way in a couple weeks and especially due to the loss of a close family member a little over a year ago. I realize that before becoming a parent I would not have understood. I wouldn't have been able to feel along with you as I do now and so I appreciate your ability to convey these things so that I can understand. I can understand the fear and the hope and how it shapes us. Sometimes it makes me a little more teary eyed during my morning at work than I would prefer.

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  2. I know your intention wasn't to choke us all up this morning, but .... very powerful post, thank you for writing it.

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  3. I don't really know what to say, other than we're thinking of you and your son.

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  4. I am a blubbering mess. Your writing is just oh, so honest and candid and sincere yet full of emotion, and like the other nancy said - powerful.

    I hope somehow the writing is a little therapeutic for you...you are an inspiration.

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  6. The marine/fire fighter to the far left (red hat, marine corps gear) is Chris Hanson of the CFD, also a marine and an Operation Desert Storm veteran. He and his wife were neighbors of mine and I learned far more than I ever expected to about the military and war from him. He still supports the military rabidly and is a caring and upstanding man who represents the CU fire department and marines well. I know that if he was there, he was there with all his heart in supporting the people over there. The community suports them. We support them (even if we don't agree with their being there). We support YOU.

    (((hugs)))

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  7. Wow. Tears in my eyes. Thanks for writing this. :)

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  8. Yeesh. I just buried a WWII veteran last night. A good friend's father died of cancer suddenly. My thoughts are with you kid.

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  9. Great post. Your family will be in my thoughts, and I also hope the troops come home soon.

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  10. Great post. Thank you for sharing your experience with those of us who couldn't make it out that day. Truly appreciated. I know what you mean by it never feeling like enough. I'm on my second flag since this war began, the first getting too sun bleached being up in my window day after day... and it'll stay stuck in that window until we get the boys back home. The care packages I hear are greatly appreciated, so I try to send one out from time to time.

    Yet I'm still humbled every time I go to the VA hospital. I never had to go through what they did. I can't help but feel guilty for not doing more. There's no end to the appreciation to them, their families, and their loved ones. The best one can do is try to support them whatever way one can, but it'll never feel like enough. I salute you for your courage and strength in dealing with what is probably one of the hardest things a parent could ever endure. Here's wishing you and yours a happy voyage home.

    - Glock21, just another broke chuck from the Navy

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  11. Recently our Community Service Committee at work organized a thing where they asked people to donate various (requested) items to send to soldiers. Our dept. sent soccer balls and pumps, and others sent Tinactin, Simple Green, etc. We felt we had at least done some little thing for the guys and gals in Iraq. I will check out your resources here, too.

    Hang in there.

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  12. Your son remains in my prayers. One of my co-workers has a son who just returned. She's been a wreck during his entire tour and I've never seen anyone happier than she was this week. My step-daughter's boyfriend ships out in two weeks. I can't even begin to put what she (and by extension me) is going through thinking about it.

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  13. Oh girl....I can't help but feel anguish right along side you...and cry right along side you...thank you for sharing this....

    People need to know how hard it is...Our politicians need to start seeing the faces that go along with our troops..the mom's, dad's, children...neighbors.....

    They are not just another last name on a dogtag...!

    Sorry.
    I get hyped up on this issue...

    thank you for sharing....

    ((hugs))

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  14. This was the most striking post I've read since the whole thing began: thank you for writing it. We had elections in the UK on Thursday and me and half the nation voted against the party that helped start this. An end may not be in sight, but the will to bring it to a close is definitely there. Keep doing what you can, and hang in there!

    xxx

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  15. You are loved. Brian is loved. You keep on not doing nothing. It makes a difference. It really does. Trust that there are those of us out here who *see*, who Get It. And are not doing nothing with you.

    Let me know if I can not do nothing for *you* as well as for them. Blessed Be.

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  16. ron and familiy12:37 PM

    I just came on your site. Your son and you have our profound gratitude and support.

    My grandson served 2 tours as a marine platoon leader in rapid strike force (Afganistan and unknown places in the gulf region). He's home in NC and said he may return to service after he finishes college.

    For what it's worth, what bouyed us all up was all the troops committment to each other. He cared about them. He wanted to train and teach his men everything he learned to survive and do their job---the right way. That was how he was prepared and supported up and down the line. The second thing is he was absoulutely convinced we were needed, and most of the Iraqi's and other middle easterners he met only wanted us to help them be safe and succeed---and get rid of the "bad guys".

    It happens I also got to know others like you and your son. Same story as my grandson.

    On the political front, among books that really helped us see how all this mattered was "The Looming Tower"---a history of al Qaeada to 9/11.

    The other place some families follow is www.michaelyon-online.com. Michael Yon is not always rosy but he's honest reporting from the front---and shows progress---hard to come by.

    I'm sure you know about the other family supports locally---it gets lonely sometimes.

    Thanks so much again.

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  17. Thank you all for your support and comments; I was edgy about posting this one, so it's nice to hear from you all, here and in e-mail.

    xoxo

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  18. (sorry this is late) what a powerful post. sitting here with tears running down my face. as always, you (and of course, brian) are in my thoughts.

    this has spurred me on -- i can't do nothing either...

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  19. I am the mother that was in the procession you were watching, the most difficult ride I have ever taken. Lucas is my son. I had heard about your posting and have just read it for the first time. Well spoken. Our family is slowly healing and trying to find some kind of normal, if that can be achieved.

    About that day, I remember seeing school children, firemen, veterans, policeman, and Flags everywhere and I remember how our spirits were lifted and our hearts touched by the people that came out to honor him. Thank you and God Bless. I felt as if the honor shown that day was not only for Luke but for all of our men and women deployed into war zones. Our communities came together to support our family and honor all of our Soldiers.

    We will continue to pray for our Soldiers and support them as they are my sons brothers and sisters.

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  20. Ava,

    Thank you for your comments, your kind words. Your family is in my prayers daily, and I know, those of hundreds of people in the community. I hope you find an iota of solace in that. Your son will not be forgotten.

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