Father's Day Reflections on a Son Lost
This was written by Michael Berg, father of Nick Berg, the man who was brutally beheaded in Iraq on May 7, 2004. Michael Berg is running for Congress in Delaware.
Of all of the holidays a grieving father can be confronted with after the death of his child, Father's Day is for me the most difficult.
My son Nick died in Iraq on May 7, 2004. He is buried next to my father, who had died just a year and a half before. That is not the way it's supposed to be.
I'm supposed to go somewhere between my father and my son in the graveyard. Nearby are my proud immigrant grandparents, who died first. That is the way it is supposed to be.
There is a lot else going on that is not the way it is supposed to be. Our leaders are not supposed to lie to us. Yet because George Bush and company told us to beware of weapons of mass destruction and the so-called Iraqi involvement in 9/11, my son lost his life, as did at least 150,000 others on both sides whose loved ones are now grieving.
Though I doubted our president's words, I did too little too late.
Nick was an independent contractor, not associated with Halliburton, Bechtel, Lockheed Martin or the U.S. military. Nick was arrested by the U.S. military without reason and then illegally detained for 13 days. While he was in custody, the revelations of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal became public. These revelations ignited the resistance in Iraq and made it impossible for Nick to get home alive.
Once released, Nick was swiftly murdered _ on videotape, by a hooded man now believed to have been Abu Musab al-Zarqawi _ in retaliation for the atrocities alleged to have been committed at the Abu Ghraib prison: murders, rapes and torture of Iraqi citizens. The president's contribution was to order then-White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales to rewrite definitions of torture essentially ordering these sins, and he did so with impunity. Though Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says he took responsibility for the resulting atrocities, no consequences were imposed on him, but they were on my son and everyone who loved him. This is not the way it's supposed to be.
When Nick did arrive home, it was to the military mortuary at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, a base from which I and all other loved ones of the invisible deceased are barred. This is not the way it's supposed to be, either.
We learn more and more of the truth of what is happening in Iraq every day. We learn what is happening to America and our allies as a result of the voters of these United States electing the wrong men and women: unjustifiable wars, the undermining of vital social programs, willful neglect of the maintenance of the infrastructure of our nation, and dangerous "ignorance" of global warming that could result in unprecedented disaster. This is the legacy of these leaders. Neither of the two largest political parties in this country is doing anything to make things the way they are supposed be.
This spring, I joined many others _ both conservatives and liberals _ in taking the first steps to put things right. I had the honor of being the first person to sign the Voters Pledge for Peace, which states: "I will not vote for or support any candidate for Congress or President who does not make a speedy end to the war in Iraq, and preventing any future war of aggression, a public position in his or her campaign."
I believe that Zarqawi was a human being, too, and if his father is alive, I'm sure that the grief and the pain he feels is every bit as devastating as the grief and pain I feel for my son. I want to make sure that no more fathers suffer the loss of their son or daughter in Iraq or a future illegal war of aggression. My contribution this Father's Day is to urge all those who oppose the military occupation of Iraq and do not want to see future wars of choice to sign the Voters Pledge at www.VotersForPeace.US. Nearly 50,000 people have already signed and many of the major organizations in the antiwar movement have endorsed it.
Together we can change the path of the United States so that all fathers and mothers can face the future with pride that we did our part to move our great country back toward the way it's supposed to be.