The Author

As I wrote in Long Time Passing, when "my son was deployed to Afghanistan in 2003 I awoke from nightmares almost every night: the knock on the door, uniformed military personnel on the doorstep, “We’re sorry to inform you…,” images of my son disabled like the soldier in Johnny Got His Gun, bombs raining on a family’s home while a mother screamed out her children’s names….      
My first real encounter with the vast horror that is war was meeting Holocaust survivors when I was a child. Then I had reacted by imagining how I would steel myself for hearing the worst news. But now, try as I might, I couldn’t hold for more than a few seconds the thought of my own child’s direct involvement: the pain was overwhelming. I couldn’t imagine how mothers could—how I might have to—adjust to the unthinkable: the death or maiming of a beloved child, the nightmare vision of that child killing or maiming others."
As an adult immigrant to the United States I didn't grasp that my own children were candidates for military recruitment. Surely, I thought, a volunteer military was, well, voluntary. I was unaware of, so did not consider, the marketing efforts and exorbitant amounts of money the US military poured into maintaining the veneer of "volunteer".
It wasn't as if I didn't know about war trauma: my family has generations of conscripts: the British Raj, the Boer War, World War II, and the South African Defense Force. So, when my son returned from Afghanistan and three months later deployed to Iraq, I was determined to alert him to the psychological implications of war...and to learn from Iraqi families about their lives in a beloved land that had become a war zone.
What I learned in Iraq in 2004 drove me to re-evaluate the various histories I'd learned ... and to adjust my worldview based on the realities that civilians described about the root causes and effects of war in their lands.
For, each one of us is a sojourner on this earth...and it is up to each one of us to surface our basic assumptions, evaluate our worldviews, and reach out to one another with open questions - and listen to and evaluate the answers - rather than simply accept policy positions, political strategies, and polemics.

 Susan Galleymore continues to share the stories of those affected by war as a writer, founder of MotherSpeak, and host and executive producer of Raising Sand Radio.