He is willing to return because he believes it is ‘honorable’.
The mother read a poem her son had written where he cops to killing women and children, where he portends the horrors of war that he himself has participated in, and he speaks of his anger, frustration, the price of his humanity that he has paid to participate.
This mother wants us to herald her cause with the Armed Services committee – she wants to testify in front of this committee about her son’s state of mind and the cost of his humanity, and thereby end the war so her son, and anyone’s son, will not be redeployed.
And she just found out Monday that her son is to be redeployed to Iraq. And that he is willing to return.
I feel it is really important that we call things what they are. He is a soldier who said he was against the war, who said he was for peace, but he is willing to return to Iraq because he feels it is 'honorable'!
I found it really hard to challenge this mother's acceptance of her son's refusal to go to Canada, to protest his redeployment, to have the courage to resist - her framing & accepting his decision to go as some sort of honor code among soldiers.
We understand this honor code. I do not accept it. I think as anti-war pro-peace activists, we cannot accept anyone's justification for going to war.
Some of us heard the mother say that her son said he will not kill when he returns to the city streets and country towns of Iraq - I heard he will refuse to kill women and children when he returns.
But the point is, he is willing to return to participate in whatever way he can justify to himself in this war.
Bottom line for me is that if there were not soldiers willing to fight, we would not have a war. And if we were not willing to support soldiers going off to fight, maybe they wouldn't be so gun-ho to become 'heroes', to be ‘honorable’, to fight side-by-side with their buddies.
I’m not saying his poem is not moving and should not be used - I think it is moving and I think it especially resonates with some. The part I think we should be careful of is accepting his justification for returning.
I think we should be horrified that he is able to justify returning after he writes such a poem - as I said at the meeting, these opposite things are erasing each other. I think we should see and express his return for what it is: the power of the military to obsess our children so they feel more loyal to the military than they are to us or even worse, to themselves.