A timely item came across my desk yesterday from my great friend Jacqui of Maine (my “angel in disguise”) who shared with me the story of a wonderful strong woman named Carole Whelan. Carole Whelan stood up yesterday at an event to Honor Senator Susan Collins (where she was inducted into the Maine Women’s Hall of Fame) and spoke out to request that such an honor be declined until all of our troops are home.
This was timely for me because yesterday was a day when I experienced a high degree of hopelessness. A day that signified the anniversary of an event that so many of us tried to stop through letters
and visits to our representatives, protests on the streets, and civil disobedience actions where some of us served jail time or paid fines for our actions. A day that while the wars continue, from those 8 years ago and long before, and also a day symbolizing new conflicts, adding to the massacres and devastation of our world. A day when the world was still reeling (and continues to reel) from the horrible devastation in Japan, with so many stories coming out of that event leaving me awed in so many different ways. Yet as the people of that nation fight to survive, as world hunger increases, as children around the world are subject to the atrocities created by the rich and greedy, as forests are disappearing…. the wars continue, families continue to be torn apart, the priorities of protecting and preserving life (or lack thereof) are only in the best interest of those that make the most monetary profit, the rate of unemployment and homelessness continues to rise, our civil rights continue to be degraded, the future of life on our planet continues to be held in question as the “leaders” continue to ignore the realities of climate change and also the inherent risks associated with the continuing development of energy using poison for fuel….and so, yes, I had a few moments yesterday of feeling like no matter what I do, my acts do not have any kind of impact in the scheme of things.
And then appeared Carole Whelan’s act of bravery in speaking the truth. A smile came across my face as I knew then that her dignified act reminded me that I am a pebble amongst all the other pebbles of inspiration in this world, and that all the acts, small and large – from these pebbles united – all of us here and the many other women and men in the world – form the rock that prove to be the foundational inspiration to others who will choose to be pebbles among us. Our continuing fortitude, persistence, unwavering commitment to life on our planet continue to serve as examples to those who will follow…..together we are the conglomerate rock on which our future generations will stand to move forward with the conviction and bravery to take action against the injustices in our world.
Below is the text of Carole Whelan’s short but powerful statement, followed by media footage links.
March 19 A day of Mourning and Remembrance
I came to this celebration of women today as the daughter, sister, wife and mother of war veterans and a member of the national organization of Military Families Speak Out. Joining me are other military families and Veterans with an important message for you.
It is troubling that on this, the 8th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, our Senator enjoys a “Gala Celebration”. For us, this is a day of mourning and remembrance. To ignore its significance mocks the terrible sacrifices that have been demanded of military families.
We also mourn the Iraqi families, who have suffered profound loss and can never forget this day. In sad contrast to the “Women in History” celebrations, is the fact that women and children are primarily the victims of the violence of war.
In 2003, before that infamous day of “Shock and Awe”, 23 brave US Senators refused to fall into lockstep and abandon their Constitutional duty. We regret that our Senator did not join them, but chose instead to plunge the children of others into needless war. This was a betrayal of our military, our Constitution and the oath of office.
It is time, Senator Collins, to demonstrate a tiny fraction of the courage you so easily demanded of our sons and daughters. (You have said that Iraq is not your top priority. The forgotten families of the forgotten wars are painfully aware of that. We have never been offered an expression of regret or sorrow or any acknowledgement of responsibility. I cut this from my oral presentation, but included it in the press release)
This is the holy season of Lent, a time of reflection and repentance. Your decision to wage war, and its 8 years of consequences, can never be undone, but you can join us today in mourning its victims. We believe it is fitting that you decline this honor until all our troops are back home from Iraq and Afghanistan. A small sacrifice, we think, out of respect for those who have sacrificed so much.
View videos of the event here: