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Gold Star Mom Speaks Out

Posted on Sep 24, 2006
Ken Ballard

Karen Meredith

Editors note: In honor of Gold Star Mothers Day, Truthdig brings you this letter from Karen Meredith, whose son Ken died in Iraq two years ago.

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In 1994, President Bill Clinton proclaimed the last Sunday in September to be Gold Star Mothers Day.  He said that we should “honor women whose sons and daughters have pledged their lives to securing for all Americans the blessings of liberty. These mothers have made tremendous sacrifices, the most painful being the loss of their children, and deserve the respect and recognition of the nation.” 

Gold Star Mothers Day is not a Hallmark holiday to send flowers or cards. Gold Star Mothers Day 2006 should be a day for sober reflection about how President Bush set in place a new generation of Gold Star Mothers when he sent our children to fight his illegal war in Iraq. These new Gold Star Mothers will be his legacy as the War President he proudly claims himself to be.

The current president says we must honor the sacrifices of fallen soldiers by completing the mission. How will more bloodshed and more dying honor my son, who was killed in Iraq more than 2 years ago?  The president can prevent the creation of new Gold Star Mothers. It is time for this president to put ALL options on the table and make necessary and immediate changes to his disastrous course in Iraq.  He can start by bringing the troops home now.

We will never forget our loved ones; they will live forever in our hearts.  On Sunday, the citizens of this country must remember our sacrifice and consider the human cost of this war.  That and our broken hearts are something that Gold Star Mothers live with forever.

I AM the proud Gold Star Mother of Lt Ken Ballard, KIA 5.30.04, Najaf, Iraq

Karen Meredith

  • Ken Ballard’s homepage

  • Karen’s blog: Gold Star Mom Speaks Out


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    By GoldStar Mother, July 22, 2008 at 8:36 am Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    My Son, My Hero, passed away in July 2004 in Ramadi, Iraq.  It hurts so much everyday to live without him in our lives.  Is there anyone out there that can help me? If so, please let me know.  I’m so proud of him and all of his sacrifices, but what do I do now?  I pray everyday.  I honor him everyday, but I’m drowning in hurt. I miss him so.  He was my only son.  What do I do now?  How do I go on?  I’ve heard it all, but it’s not helping….I’ve been to church. I’ve prayed to God. I’ve spoke to a counselor. What now???? 

    Crying Gold Star Mother

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    By Poch Suzara, September 27, 2006 at 12:34 pm Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    What is the difference, if any, between the Republican and the Democratic party - since both parties have to serve the interests of the richest corporations of the United States of America that especializes in the manufacturing of weapons for war?

                    Best wishes to all,
                      Poch Suzara

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    By Peggy Buryj, September 27, 2006 at 11:57 am Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    Judith…  I would of joined the Gold Star Mothers organization if I had been provided the documentation you required.  My son died May 5th 2004 and I got a copy of his casualty report in April 2005, almost a year later.  Not three months. That was NOT my personal choice.  Maybe your membership would grow if you would realize that some mothers are not next of kin and we are not provided information in a timely manner.  My name is on his birth certificate. I have nothing against your organization.  I would of been honored to be a part of it but when I needed you most I couldn’t join.  I guess I am a Gold star mother but that “term” is being used by many people for many agendas I don’t support.  So I’ll just stay Jesse’s mom.

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    By Judith C. Young, September 26, 2006 at 5:26 pm Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    Peggy is a gold star mother and has chosen not to join the American Gold Star Mothers because we have a requirement she is not comfortable with and that is a personal choice. So I want to clarify for her and any other people who are not informed, the reason for this message. Every organization has its requirements that have to be followed and one of ours is a Report of Casualty.  Why?  Because first it is in our Constitution & ByLaws and second; how do we know who a gold star mother is?  We would be remiss if we let everyone fill out an application without any form of documentation. Believe it or not; there are a lot of people I call “wantabees” and I wish someone would tell me why! If a mother does not have “ROC” we can obtain one from St. Louis which takes about three months.  We, as an organization are not privey to names, addressess, etc.  The American Gold Star Mothers is not a club(as some people refer to it) but a VSO (Veterans Service Organization).  That explains why 98 percent of mothers do not join.  We serve the veterans volunteering under the Veterans Administration program called VAVS; that was the reason 78 years ago for its beginning.  Not everyone is a “joiner” or volunteer oriented and that is a personal choice one makes.  Our moms for 78 years have given millions of hours back to the veterans who have returned home with their time, money and tender loving care. They receive their reward by their giving of themselves to those who have served our military. The term “gold star mother” emerged during the First World War and President F.D Roosevelt proclaimed in 1940 that the last Sunday in September be known as Gold Star Mothers Day in their honor with appropriate ceremonies and recognition.   

    Judith C Young, Past National President
    Proud Marine Mom from New Jersey

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    By Mr. Justice, September 25, 2006 at 1:05 pm Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    he’s not a president, he’s the disease of spoiled rich people who stole the election and cower the scribes of history.
    we all rank higher as citizens than this pretender.
    TODAY is the day we must arrest his whole Klan.
    Otherwise, our cowardice is murder.

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    By MARIAM RUSSELL, September 25, 2006 at 8:15 am Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    Ladies, Please vote… Dem…..get rid of the lovers of war,as long as it is fought bt your children and mine, never theirs…..get rid of the people who would turn your children and mine into torturers to satisfy some nasty little demon they carry around, not because it ever results in anything good…..then we can start to get our rights as American Citizens back and see about not needing anything so horrible as a Gold Star Mom.

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    By Mr. Wonderful, September 25, 2006 at 8:03 am Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    Relax, people; the Iraq war is “just a comma” in history—according to our Fearless Leader, that is….

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    By Peggy Buryj, September 24, 2006 at 4:06 pm Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    I too am a Gold Star mom.  My son Spc Jesse Ryan Buryj was KIA May 5th, 2004 in Karbala, Iraq.  My son died as a result of friendly fire.  I call myself a Gold Star mother but I am not a part of the official organization.  I found it totally ironic that in order to join the Gold Star Mothers organization I had to provide a copy of my son’s casualty report.  Not being next of kin this was not provided to me until nearly a year after my sons death. As the Army was so good at telling me “sorry mame, You are not next of kin.”  The Gold star mothers just became one more organization telling me I didn’t matter because I wasn’t next of kin.  Despite our differences I honor ALL Gold star mothers.  We are “members” of a club none of us want to be in.  I know the hell that we go through every second of everyday.  It never goes away. My soldier, my son did not die in vain.  My son lived his life with more conviction and dignity in his little finger than most men in our government could hope for.  Jesse died as he lived.  Doing what he thought was right.  Have I lost every shred of respect for our government? yes.  Do I have any respect for the United States Army for lieing to us for over the past two years. NO.  But I am so proud of my son and NOBODY will take that away from me or more importantly him.

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    By Jon B, September 24, 2006 at 12:45 pm Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    When will those in power send their children to Iraq’s frontline?

    It’s easy for them to say whatever when their own chlldren aren’t involved in this “noble mission” and to “defend this country”.

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    By OCPatriot, September 24, 2006 at 11:09 am Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    I honor those who died and their parents.  I am concerned that more and more will die, as Bush & Co. opens the spectre of sending more troops to Iraq and Afghanistan and starts a war by bombing Iran, which opens the necesssity for a draft to start soon after the elections if the Republicans win a majority.  I grieve for the sons and daughters who will continue to die; I have two grandchildren now and believe they will come under the draft if something is not done that really honors those who died.  We must reverse this process and the only way I know is to vote for a Democrat, get your friends to vote for a Democrat, donate to Democrats (who will in the long run prove just as bad as the Republicans, but not in the short run).  If we want this killing to end, and truly honor those who have lost sons or daughters, we must do this.

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    By Kathy Mitchell, September 24, 2006 at 10:05 am Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    I am so very sorry that your son had to die so tragically.  I am sorry that you feel his death didn’t make a difference.  You are through your efforts making his death have meaning by trying to put an end to this insanity.  Unless you’ve lost a child, you can’t imagine the pain.  I lost my daughter nearly two years ago and have tried to give her death meaning by making changes in community health services for the mentally ill.  It’s all we can do but nothing brings them back.



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    By Jude, September 24, 2006 at 5:54 am Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    I have grown up the majority of my life next to the second largest army training base in the US - Fort Benning, just outside of Columbus, GA.  I’ve seen a thousand friends come and go in my 35 years, I’ve witnessed hundreds of thousands of nameless faces walking about twn in Class B uniforms and desert fatigues.  Members of my family are currently in Iraq and Afghanistan, others have already returned home.

    I’ve been one of the men who goes up to soldiers and shakes their hands and thanks them for their sacrifices and their bravery, honoring them in the most personal way I know how.  I’ve paid the check of a soldier’s dinner without him knowing who did it, just because it needed to be done.

    I cannot know the pain of a Gold Star mother, sibling, or spouse - but I know my own heartsickness from losing one of these souls that drifts through my small space of America, because the loss of even one diminishes me as a human.

    I keep all servicemembers and their families in my mind and in my heart constantly because seldom can a day go by that I am not reminded of them - they’re all around me.  Today, I make that reminder for others.

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