Bond of loss brings together Iraqi women and mothers of fallen US soldiers
SULAIMANIYAH, Iraq — Nine American mothers whose children died fighting in Iraq were embraced yesterday by dozens of Iraqi women who lost children during decades of war and violence in a meeting that participants said brought them a measure of peace.
The gathering in Iraq’s mostly peaceful northern Kurdish region was far from the sites of the roadside bombings or battlefields that accounted for the vast majority of the more than 4,400 US military deaths since the 2003 invasion, but for some mothers, it was still a powerful experience to even step foot in Iraq.
Some kissed the ground during their arrival Saturday.
“I was overwhelmed at touch down. We were really on the ground in Iraq. I was almost in disbelief that it was real. This is where my son spent the last days of his life, and now, I was there,’’ said a blog entry by Amy Galvez of Salt Lake City, whose son, Corporal Adam Galvez, was killed in 2006.
In another Web post, she said she would return home a different person. “I will be in the country where my son spent the last days of his life,’’ she wrote. “I’ll have visited the land where a piece of my heart will remain forever.’’
The beginning of the Americans’ three-day trip — organized by a Virginia-based women’s aid group, Families United Toward Universal Respect — was attended by officials from State Department and Kurdish regional government.
Nawal Akhil, deputy chief of the group’s Baghdad office, said the goal was to “talk about their suffering to find a way to ease it.’’
“We share the same ordeals and suffering, the American mothers who lost their children and the Iraqi mothers who lost their loved ones during the Saddam Hussein-era and in the violence since 2003,’’ said Akhil.
While the mothers met in northern Iraq, other parts of the country were hit by violence as insurgents attempted to regain lost footholds near Baghdad and continued to pursue an ongoing campaign against public servants in an effort to undermine government institutions.