Thu, Jul 22, 2004 - Page 9 News List

The lie that killed my son

Lila Lipscomb believed in Bush's case for war in Iraq. But when her son died in fighting that he saw,and that she now sees, as useless, her faith was shattered

By Emma Brockes  /  THE GUARDIAN , London

But so far, she has had only positive responses. The letters and e-mails are pouring in, many from the parents of soldiers serving in Iraq who have echoed the sentiments of her son. She is a member of Military Families Speak Out, a US organization for people "with relatives or loved ones in the military" who oppose the war in Iraq. "Through us, their voices will be heard."

She has heard from people all over the country, "just incredible, incredible, men calling and leaving messages, sobbing and thanking me for my courage. Women just going `Yeah! Michael has a hell of a mother.' And then the night of the Flint showing (of Fahrenheit 9/11), there was a message from a young lady named Tracy." Tracy had been friends with Michael when they were children and hadn't known he was dead until she saw the film; she had to be carried out. Tracy is in the Navy and on her way to Iraq.

The most surprising letter came from a man Lipscomb knew only slightly, who had sold her her house.

"It was a full-page, handwritten letter from a man -- that in itself is unique. He said he'd seen the film and when he got home he had to write. He had always been a very strong Republican, but his views are now changed," she said.

Lipscomb's employers have been supportive. Her friends in Flint have been stunned. She wonders if her phone has been bugged and how her unlisted number seems to have become quickly and widely known.

"Interesting, isn't it?" she said.

And she wonders if she will ever get to the White House. It is on her to-do list.

"When I go to Washington DC as an American citizen I have a right, I have a right to go to the White House and I'll not stop until that right is given back to us. My son's blood paid for that White House, and I can't go in? That's my White House. I'm furious," she said.

What would she say to Bush if she met him? "God have mercy." She shakes her head. "God have mercy."

Now, instead of telling them to trust authority, Lipscomb is raising her seven grandchildren to question it.

"I tell them: If you don't understand something, ask. And if you still don't understand it, go to the next level. And the next. And the next," she said.

With this in mind, she intends to hold off deciding who to vote for (she knows who she isn't voting for) until she has sussed out Senator John Edwards, the running mate announced by the presumptive Democrat candidate, Senator John Kerry.

"I really don't know anything about this man," she said.

"I'm not going to listen to what the TV says; I'm not going to listen to what the radio says. I have to find a way for him to answer my questions, either by sitting down with him, or by being at one of his rallies.

"That's how serious this is to me. I'm not playing," she said.

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