Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Final Post

More than ever before I believe there really is no place like home.

This was an amazing trip. The Gold Star mothers and the entourage traveling with them were treated like royalty. We met people we could have never imagined we would meet. At times it seemed so surreal we would look at each other and repeat out loud where we were or who we were with.

It was easy to fall in love with the Iraqi people. Everywhere we went they were excited to see us and went out of their way to make us feel welcome. Some of my favorite moments came as we were traveling on the bus. I’d have my camera out the window shooting images of the passing countryside, and every now and then an Iraqi we were passing would notice my camera and break into a wide grin. Moments I will never forget.

If I ever had any doubts about the United States-led invasion to help overthrow Saddam Hussein, they are gone. You only have to look into the eyes of one Iraqi woman, or hear one family’s story of the death and destruction Saddam heaped upon his own people to know we did the right thing. The human thing.

But the real purpose of this trip was for the Gold Star mothers who were seeking to understand the people and the land that their children died for. Mostly, I think they wanted to make sure their children hadn’t died in vain.

I think each found some of what she was looking for. After our return, Gold Star mom Shelia Marshall, whose son Cpl. Evan Andrew Marshall was killed in Mosul, Iraq, in 2008, posted this on her facebook page:

"Back from Iraq! At the most beautiful place I have ever seen, a river of tears rolled down my face. We then formed a circle and spoke, sang, read poetry. I quoted from Evan's Youth Sunday sermon: " With peace, there is no conflict, no anger, no envy, no doubt, no fear, and no hatred--there is only love." I have found in a few days what I have been searching for for years. I have found peace."

To the ten women who allowed a stranger with a camera to be present during some very emotional and private moments, I say thank you. I pray the peace and healing that you found on this journey will stay with you forever.

I'll close with words from the song “For Good” from the musical Wicked. Lyrics that Gold Star mom, Jan Moncur read during the tribute to her son, PFC Philip Christensen, at the memorial service on that beautiful Thursday at Lake Dukon:

"I've heard it said
That people come into our lives for a reason
Bringing something we must learn
And we are led
To those who help us most to grow
If we let them
And we help them in return
Well, I don't know if I believe that's true
But I know I'm who I am today
Because I knew you..."

Love to all,



  1. Amazing, your blog has been such an inspiration.

  2. Amazing, inspirational and awesome. In the truest sense of those words.

  3. We were blessed to have you with us Cindy. Thanks for being there for us and thanks for your love and friendship. Your blog is great and so are your photos.