WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The First Family Security Bubble
was nearly pried open for a moment last Friday, but in the end Disneyland
remained blessedly undisturbed.
On a particularly warm spring evening, Laura and Jenna Bush
alighted from a squadron of black SUVs at the Borders book store in downtown
Washington, D.C., right on schedule at 7 o'clock. Flanked by Secret Service
agents, they went inside to an area set up for authors to sign books -- yes,
sign books. The two Bush women have co-authored a 32-page children�s book,
�Read All About It,� the story of Tyrone, a youngster who is good at everything
in school but reading.
In line to have her copy signed, and more importantly, to
get a moment to deliver a letter to the authors, waited Gilda Carbonaro, the
mother of a U.S. Marine Sergeant who died a terrible death in Iraq.
After nearly an hour wait, Gilda approached the table to
proffer her book for a signature. �So that they wouldn�t see me as threatening,
I made sure to introduce myself as a grade school teacher, like Jenna,� she
The moment she got her signed book back, she took her letter
out from within the pages of the book and extended it to Laura and Jenna. Not
500 words long, it was laminated so it would clearly not be in something as
suspicious-looking as an envelope.
�At that moment, swooping down out of absolutely nowhere, a
Secret Service agent grabbed it out of my hand,� Gilda explained. But before
she was hustled away, she extracted a promise from the younger Bush to read it.
After her brief encounter with American royalty, the member
of Gold Star Families Speak Out said, �If I
had the chance, I would�ve liked to ask Laura Bush, �What would you consider
enough of a real emergency to urge your kids to enlist? If New Jersey
was invaded? Your husband constantly tells us that all hangs in the balance in
this war. Just what would it take for your family to really risk
You may be interested in reading what Gilda Carbonaro wrote
to Laura and Jenna Bush. Heaven knows they�re not likely to, inside the bubble.
Laura and Jenna Bush
c/o Borders Books
14th and F Streets NW
April 25, 2008
Dear Laura and Jenna Bush,
As you promote your new children�s book, �Read All About
It,� and advocate for literacy tonight I hope you will take but a few moments
to read these heartfelt lines.
I write to you as one of thousands of parents and family
members whose loved ones have been killed in Iraq or Afghanistan; whose child,
parent or spouse has returned blinded or deaf, armless or legless, or unable to
ever move their limbs again; or perhaps have returned apparently unharmed, but
with nightmares and a ticking timebomb in their minds.
You may think this a grim postscript to an evening�s chat
about a book for children, but when someone you love has been taken from you
forever, or returned so terribly damaged you barely know them, it becomes foremost
in your thoughts every waking moment. You then begin to understand what is
truly grim. And, I must add, there are those among us who still carry such
unspeakable pain and anger they�ve become all but exhausted.
But many of us have felt exhaustion be replaced by an energy
and a clarity of purpose we have never
experienced before. One thing that has become clear to us is an answer to the
question, �How could anyone send the youth of its nation to invade Iraq?�
We see now how differently someone would answer
that question if they suffered the anguish of a family member being killed as
Your children, Mrs. Bush, are safe and I am glad for you.
But I wonder, have you ever urged them to enlist in this heroic adventure? Your
husband has told us many times how important this cause is. Your children
appear well qualified, and as part of the First Family you�ve no doubt taught
them the value of demonstrating leadership for the nation.
Why, then, has the price for this war been paid only by
people like my son, Marine Corps Sgt. Alessandro Carbonaro, who died May 10,
2006, eight days after being horrifically burned in an IED blast in Al Anbar
Can you not see the simple, basic unfairness of asking
others to do what you yourself are unwilling to do? Have you drifted so far
from an understanding of fundamental justice that you cannot see the
contradictions apparent to so many of us?
These are not rhetorical questions. They are as real as the
knot in our stomachs and the ache in our hearts. It is time -- and past time --
that you face these questions without blinking or dodging and give us a
Ferner is a member of Veterans For
Peace and works part-time for DemocracyRising.US.