Friday, December 24, 2004

Nobody Ever Wins

Amalia Gonzalez, whose eldest son Victor was killed in Iraq in October, is headed to the Middle East next week to help Iraqi refugees who have suffered just as much as she has, if not more.

She’ll fly to Amman, Jordan, as part of a delegation of mothers whose sons have died in the war and now want to help Iraqis by buying and sending them medical supplies from the country next door.

Hopefully, she said, her mission will send a message to the U.S. government.

"Everybody loses in war," said Gonzalez, 44. "And it’s not just the Americans. I want to show the Iraqi people that all Americans aren’t bad. That we’ve got a heart. That we’re just as much against the war as they are. That nobody ever wins. How could you?"

Gonzalez will meet the rest of the 12-member delegation in New York City on Dec. 26, following a week of heavy fighting in Iraq that’s included the most deadly attack on U.S. soldiers since the war began.

Code Pink, a national women’s peace organization, is organizing the trip. Although the group is helping pay at least a portion of the journey for some of the mothers, Gonzalez was a last-minute addition and paid for the $2,000 trip on her own, said Jodie Evans, co-founder of the group.

Gonzalez, whose 19-year-old son was killed in an ambush on Oct. 13, said she’s doing just what her son would have expected.

"He would have wanted me to help anybody who needs it, whether American or Iraqi. That’s what he was all about: helping the civilians. That’s why he wanted to be a police officer," she said from inside her Pajaro home.

Evans said the delegation, when it lands in Jordan, will spend a few days buying roughly $500,000 in medical supplies, which they will then hand over to doctors who will deliver the medicine to Iraqi refugees in Baghdad.

The money was raised by a campaign that was announced on the Internet, Evans said, adding she hopes the mothers will make future trips to the region as a way of bringing attention to their cause.

Since the U.S.-led attacks on Fallujah in November, thousands of Iraqi citizens have been left homeless and don’t have adequate supplies, Evans said.

"We’re not a humanitarian organization," she said. "But we couldn’t sit by and let thousands of these people go without food, water, shelter or supplies."

Gonzalez, who is still getting letters of condolences from people she’s never met, said, "If this is the closest I can get to where my son was killed, then so be it. I’m going to be there, and I’m going to be helping out. I’d go to Baghdad if I could, but I can’t."

Article by Tom Ragan of the Santa Cruz Sentinel Newspaper

You can easily judge the character of a man by the way he treats those who can do nothing for him. -Goethe