Mothers Of Fallen Soldiers
Travel To Iraq
(October 12, 2010)
SULAYMANIA, Iraq (Army News Service, Oct. 7, 2010) -- Nine members of the Gold
Star Mothers organization traveled to the Sulaymania Arts Center, Sept. 26 for a
three-day conference and a chance to see the outcome of a war that claimed their
children's lives and what their loved ones were fighting for.|
The conference began with speeches from the
first lady of Iraq, Hero Talabani, the Iraqi
Martyrs Office, and Brig. Gen. Tom Vandal, the
Task Force Marne deputy commanding general for
"It's an honor to participate in today's events
to recognize the sacrifices made by the Gold
Star Mothers and to thank them for the
sacrifices of their loved ones," said Vandal.
"As revered members of our military community,
your love and devotion to the Families of the
armed services gives all of us strength and
confidence knowing that you stand with us
honoring those who have made the ultimate
Among those attending the
Iraq's First Lady Hero
Talabani (center) spoke at the Gold Star Mothers
event held Sept. 26, 2010 at the Sulaymania Arts
Center in Sulaymania, Iraq. First Lady Talabani
welcomed the Gold Star Mothers and thanked them
for their sacrifices and the sacrifices of their
conference were Iraqi women who had lost loved
ones in the line of duty while working to make
their country a better place.
"Regardless of differences in culture, we can all agree on the importance of
family and the sense of belonging to something bigger than ourselves," Vandal
said. "It is obvious as we see the fruits of their sacrifices, that Iraq is on
its way towards improved security and economic development. Those men and women
that died for a noble cause in Iraq, would be proud of what we see today in the
Iraqi Kurdistan Region and Sulaymania."|
Talabani also spoke of her gratitude for U.S. and Iraqi forces working together
to change the lives of her people.
"Your sons came and liberated Iraq," she said to the U.S. mothers.
Talabani said that America's Soldiers had a positive impact on Iraq that would
not be forgotten.
"They managed to take down dictators of destruction, we are honored to meet you
here today, and we will never forget what your kids, your sons and your
daughters did for us," she said. "Terrorists could never stop the progress of
our nation and with the help of the U.S. we've rid Iraq of Saddam forever."
A documentary film was played to show the Gold Star Mothers what their sons and
daughters had liberated the Iraqi people from. It was an emotional event, where
mothers connected with each other regardless of which country they were from.
"We stand for families united for universal respect, we are sowing the seeds of
friendship and we feel as though we have much in common," said Joan Betros on
behalf of the Gold Star Mothers. Betros is the co-founder of FUTURE and helped
to organize the conference.
The Gold Star Mothers also met with Iraqi Martyrs to share their stories of
pride and loss. Emily Shields of Columbia, S.C., spoke highly of her son 1st Lt.
Andrew C. Shields, who was killed in an Apache helicopter accident near the city
of Mosul, Iraq, in 2004.
"My child did what he could to help the people of this country and now I feel
like I have the chance to do the same by coming here and connecting with others
who have been through what I have," Shields said. "We've been treated very
nicely and welcomed so kindly by the Iraqi Martyrs and everyone else involved in
Hugs were a big gesture and given out in abundance at the conference as part of
the program "Hugs for Healing."
"We don't get a chance to hug the uniform very much anymore now that our
children are gone, so it's nice not only to be over here, but to see Soldiers
again," said Shields, who embraced Capt. Susan Downing, Command Post – North
The bond between the Iraqi Martyrs and Gold Star Mothers was evident and the
opportunity to meet each other was appreciated on both sides. Along with
camaraderie, the Gold Star Mothers brought humanitarian aid supplies such as
baby blankets and bottles with them for those who were in need.
Article and photo By Army Spc.
Jennifer L. Montagna
135th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, 3rd Infantry Division
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