Going to the movies was something Casey and I enjoyed doing together. He was a theater-arts major in college, and he went with a critical eye. Since I love sharing my children’s passions with them, Casey and I would go to the movie theater often.

We saw two movies the last time he was home at Christmas 2003 before he was sent to Iraq. We saw the last installment of the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the live-action Peter Pan. I still have the ticket stub for that movie in my wallet. We got to the theater a little late, so we had to sit up front with the moms and dads and their small children. I commented to Casey that it looked like we were the only “grown ups” interested in the movie. The small children were cute to watch as they enjoyed the movie, and Casey and I got quite a few chuckles from them too.

On Ash Wednesday 2004, a few days before Casey left for Iraq, his dad and I went to see The Passion of the Christ. That was our Ash Wednesday penance that year. During the scourging scene, I quietly sobbed. I was especially touched by the actress who played Jesus’ Mom, who followed her son while he was being tortured and killed by devious men with an evil agenda. Of course, since I became a mom more than 26 years ago, I have identified with Mary as she sobbed at the foot of her son's cross and cradled his lifeless body in her arms.

I am recounting all this because since Casey was killed in Iraq by devious men with evil agendas, I find it extremely difficult to go to the movies. Yesterday, I went to the same movie theater in Vacaville, CA, that Casey and I loved to attend. My sister and I saw the movie Serenity. It was a good science-fiction flick, entertaining and with many parallels with what is going on in our world today. But that is not what most affected me about yesterday’s movie-going experience.

First of all, it breaks my heart to be in the theater that Casey and I went to so often. While we were waiting for the movie to start, the interminable previews started. Then a preview for the movie Jarheads came on. My sister quickly said; “Close your eyes.” Well, I already had them closed, but what I heard was tough enough. I heard a flight attendant tell a planeload of Marines “Good luck, now” as they got off, I am assuming in Kuwait. I wondered if a smiling flight attendant said the same thing to Casey as he got off in Kuwait. I will never know. I can’t ask him and he didn’t tell me in the one phone call I received from him before he was killed five days after he arrived in Baghdad.

Well, that did it for me. I couldn’t stop sobbing for 20 minutes after that preview. I tried to do it quietly as to not disturb the other moviegoers. I wonder how many other theater patrons have been so affected by the preview for Jarheads?

God forbid anyone get too disturbed over the devastation and needless death and suffering in Iraq. God forbid that the media tell us that 32 of our young people have been slaughtered in Iraq so far in October. God forbid that we have to think about the hundreds of faceless and nameless Iraqis who have been needlessly killed, too, just performing day-to-day tasks.

God forbid that anyone be held accountable for the mayhem in the Mideast. God forbid that a mother speak from her heart about the lies and betrayals of George and the gang, even though that makes some war supporters uncomfortable.

The War Department lists 1963 confirmed dead and 2 pending confirmation for a total of 1965. Thirty-five more of our children to go before the grisly number of 2000 is reached. 2000 will be the wake up call for some Americans…but whatever number Casey was, it was a wake up call for me, a violent and tragic wake-up call. Casey was not a number and the 2000th will not be a number to his or her family. Casey was a wonderful young man who loved to go to the movies with his mom. What will number 2000 be like? What will be his/her passion be, that will be snuffed out with the heartbeat? Which mom in America will be the next one to fall on the floor screaming for her baby, killed for nothing?

No, probably few Americans sobbed when they saw the preview for Jarhead and few went straight to place fresh flowers on their son’s premature grave after their movie outing.

But I did. God forbid that I am angry and God forbid that I want someone to be held accountable for George’s war of choice, which has stolen so much from almost 2000 families.

October 14, 2005