Gold Star mothers honor their fallen sons

November 11, 2008 11:55:47 PM PST
Veterans Day observances took place across the Bay Area on Tuesday, including a gathering at the controversial crosses in Lafayette. Two mothers, who lost sons in Iraq, are turning their contempt for the war into a commitment to veterans.

Against the powerful background image of 4,824 crosses, two Gold Star mothers said their willingness to speak out against the war is not a sign of disrespect to service members and veterans.

"If we hate the war, we cannot hate the warrior. And Veterans Day reminds us of this," said Karen Merideth.

Merideth's 26-year-old son, Lt. Ken Ballard from Mountain View, was killed in Najaf two days before he was supposed to come home. His mother believes the troops deserved better leadership.

"I got a lot of grief, I was not supporting the troops, I was treasoness, I was a traitor," said Merideth.

"My son would be standing here with me today if he would have come home," said Nadia McCaffrey.

Nadia McCaffrey's son, 34-year-old Sgt. Patrick McCaffrey from Tracy, enlisted one day after 9/11. He was killed in an ambush by the Iraqi soldiers he was training, but now, the mothers say there's been a transformation.

Four years after the death of their sons, these Gold Star mothers are turning their focus away from the anti-war speeches and more toward helping those surviving veterans.

Mrs. McCaffrey founded Veterans Village, communities where veterans suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome can find peace and services. Mrs. Merideth serves on the board.

"Supporting the troops does not mean putting a magnetic yellow ribbon on the back of your vehicle," said Merideth.

"Go visit the VA near you. Give them five minutes of your time. They need to be listened to. They need our love and they need our support," said Nadia McCaffrey.

Veterans Village also lobbies for more mental health screening, overhauling the veterans disabilities system, and fighting homelessness. These Gold Star mothers believe it's the best way to honor their sons.

www.veteransvillage.org


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