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The Mother of a US Soldier Speaks Out for Peace

by FRAN QUIGLEY

Like everyone else at the frigid peace rally on Monument Circle in downtown Indianapolis, the woman with the long brown hair was bundled up almost beyond recognition. But unobscured was the huge photograph she carried of a young man in U.S. Army dress uniform. The woman was handing out copies of a handwritten letter and attached photographs she had sent several months before.

Carol Korreck Whiteland, Indiana 46184

Oct. 10, 2002

Dear Mr. Bush,

This is my son Tim. You have been referring to him as “military force.”

A majority of Americans oppose President Bush’s headlong rush toward war in Iraq. They worry about the U.S. military and Iraqi civilians in harm’s way, or about the increased risk for anti-U.S. terrorism and the frightening precedent of a unilateral pre-emptive strike. Carol Korreck worries about all that, too. But her main concern is much closer to home.

I want you to be continually mindful of the fact that your “military force” has a mother and two sisters that want you to value his life as we do. Not only do you have the future of our nation to decide, you have my son’s future in your hands.

When he graduated from Whiteland High in the spring of 2001, Tim Korreck thought enrolling in the army was the best course for his future. Carol is a single mother and money for college was going to be tight. The clincher for Tim was when he learned he would receive a $16,000 bonus for signing up for the infantry.

The need for money is a common denominator for many of Tim’s army buddies. Our all-volunteer military is much more connected to Karen and her neighbors in Whiteland than to the men and women who are pushing for this war. Of the 535 members of the United States Congress, just one has a child in the enlisted ranks of the U.S. armed forces. Tim Korreck is in the Gulf, the President’s children are in college.

War is a last resort. We have not exhausted every other possible means in the fight against terrorism and Saddam Hussein and I don’t understand how you will personally justify loss of life if you don’t take every other option first.

Tim was home this past Christmas, but was shipped out to the Persian Gulf on Jan. 6, where he has been training non-stop. Carol has spent some of her nervous energy researching the possibilities for the urban warfare. Recently, she read how Tim and others will be trained to make a split-second decision whether the small figure approaching them is an innocent 7-year-old child or the carrier of a deadly explosive. “I keep saying to myself, it can’t happen, we can’t be going to war,” she says.

Every life last September 11th was a precious life cut short, but running into battle prematurely won’t bring anyone back and will only add to tragic loss. Every man or woman that your “military force” is comprised of is someone’s husband, wife, son or daughter. You have to make your decisions based on that fact.

Carol never had much use for politicians. But now she has written appreciative letters to Rep. Julia Carson (D-Indianapolis), who opposed the October war resolution, and Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), who reminds the President he is sending kids like Tim to war while kids from wealthier families watch the action from big-screen TV’s in their frat houses.

Carol is one of a growing number of war opponents with powerful claims on President Bush’s attention. The international community is lining up against the U.S.’ war plans. Combat veteran organizations have called for peace. Families of September 11th victims have organized themselves in a group called Peaceful Tomorrows, asking that no more killing be done in their name. So far, it does not seem to make a difference.

My son is nineteen and he has only one life. He is an infantry soldier in the army and willing to fight for his country if need be. America needs to be able to collectively hold its head high and believe there was no other option if we go to war. Don’t take that from us.

Carol won’t abide by any argument that she will have to support a war in order to support the troops. “I think even the people in our military know the difference between defending our country and being pawns in Bush’s power game, which is how I feel my son is being used,” she says. “I just don’t see any problem with being 100% behind our soldiers and also opposed to the war.”

Listen to the people and listen to what the world is telling you.

Carol Korreck

Three and a half months after sending the letter, she has received no answer.

FRAN QUIGLEY writes for Nuvo, the alternative paper in Indianapolis. He can be reached at: fquigley@nuvo.net

 

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Fran Quigley is a professor at Indiana University McKinney School of Law, where he directs the Health and Human Rights Clinic. He is the author of How Human Rights Can Build Haiti (Vanderbilt University Press).

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