Saturday, December 09, 2006

The Crosses of Lafayette: A Father Speaks

In today's Contra Costa Times Lewis Disbrow airs his perspective on the Crosses of Lafayette:
I SAW HER on last week's KTVU Monday morning news spot. You know, the one about the white crosses in Lafayette. There in that segment, she, "the mother of a soldier," insisted that the field of crosses was "just not appropriate."

I thought about that for the rest of the week -- a lot. I thought beyond the freedom of speech issue (as significant as that is) and considered what it would feel like to be the mother of a U.S. soldier in today's unsettled world. Then I thought about what it would feel like to be the mother of a soldier from any nation and at any time in history. I supposed what might be a mother's greatest fear -- the fear that her daughter or son might not come home alive. I even imagined what must be a mother's even greater horror -- learning that her fear was justified.

Yes, I thought a lot about it. I really did. And I do not think I failed to grasp the significance of being a mother -- a parent, at least -- of a soldier in time of war. I think I understand both the immediate and the potential costs of sending one's child into battle. And it really makes no difference whether that daughter or son serves as enlisted personnel, noncommissioned officer or commissioned officer; the potential cost is incalculable, the potential sacrifice ultimate -- to soldier, parents, family, friends and nation alike.

And then I thought about those white crosses on that Lafayette hillside again -- and about our need to remember, our need to make visible and tangible the memory of those we can no longer see, no longer touch. This need moves us to erect the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, to inscribe the names of those killed or missing in action on the cold, black granite of the Wall. It seems only human, only right to honor our dead, to commemorate our losses -- and to do so as each sees fit. And while I pray that every member of our military forces returns home healthy and strong, I must admit to a special and perhaps understandable concern in my heart for the son of this "mother of a soldier." You see, her son, a member of West Point's Graduating Class of 2007, is my only son as well. But should he die on foreign soil or somehow in the line of his chosen duty, I would -- through the bitterest of parental tears -- wish to see one more white cross set on that Lafayette hillside. It would be appropriate.

Disbrow is a Martinez resident with a son at West Point in New York.

Lisa Disbrow has been in the news with a different point of view.

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