Christina Carde


Deployed mom defends choice.

BAGRAM, Afghanistan (Army News Service, July 3, 2003) -- While sitting at my desk writing my daily article for the Freedom Watch, an Army newspaper for soldiers in Afghanistan, my co-worker casually turned to me and suggested that I type my name in the Yahoo search engine to see all of the articles I've written that have been posted on the Internet.

Not thinking anything of it, I typed my name in and began to scroll down headlines of stories I've written since my deployment to Afghanistan. I was not prepared for what I found.

"Agape News Press - The case of Private Christina," read one of the sites on the page. Curious, I clicked on it to see what had been printed about me. I received the shock of a lifetime.

Cort Kirkwood, a journalist and editor of The Daily News Record in Harrisonburg, Va., had read an article about me run by the Department of Defense Web news site, Defend America, titled "A Mom's Mission" and had decided to rip it to shreds. He called me everything from basically an unfit mother for leaving my son to go off to war to a sellout for enlisting in the Army for "30 pieces of silver," a.k.a., the Montgomery G.I. Bill.

As I read the article, I realized this was not only an attack on my 3-year-old son and me, but on all mothers deployed in the service of their country. However, since Mr. Kirkwood believes he is the subject-matter expert on the lives of women in the military he has never met or spoken to, I thought I would take the time to broaden his horizons using a few points he made in his article.

"Patriotism ain't the real reason Pfc. Christina signed up (for the Army). She enlisted for college benefits and to improve her family's lot in life, she enlisted for 30 pieces of silver."

Before I joined the Army, my son and I were living in one of the worst sections in the New York City area, where getting your next drug fix took nothing more than walking across the street or knocking on the neighbor's door. Working up to 60 hours a week was just barely paying the bills, and my 2-year-old son could have walked out the door at any time and been shot during a drive-by.

I suppose I could have taken the alternate route and applied for public assistance, so upstanding citizens like Mr. Kirkwood could pay my bills for me, but I decided to get out of the rut I was in on my own and joined the service. Now my son lives in a neighborhood where you can hear a pin drop and lights are out by 9 p.m.

"Who are the military morons who think this is a good idea (to allow mothers to deploy overseas)?"

When I came to this portion of the article, I could do nothing but sit back and laugh at the irony of his statement. The same "military morons" who give American women a chance to serve their country and provide for their families, are the same who fight and die alongside many of these women in today's combat operations. They are the ones who give journalists like Kirkwood the freedom of press and speech to write tasteless, unprofessional and uneducated "news articles" such as "The Case of Private Christina."

At least these mothers can return home with a sense of pride and accomplishment and be able to tell their children that they had a part in defending their country. What will Mr. Kirkwood be able to say other than he bashed the integrity and courage of these female troops during a time of war?

"Perhaps the would-be MacArthurs see nothing wrong with a mother dumping on her young son," was the final statement that stood out for me in the article.

Like many other deployed parents out here, I haven't seen my son in six months. However, I know my son is in a safe place with everything he needs. He will never be a child who has to wear second-hand clothing or the one stuck at home because I can't afford to send him on a class trip. That is the way things should be, and if I have to deploy in search of every Bin Laden and Hussein on the planet to keep it that way, then so be it.

(Editor's note: Pfc. Christina Carde is a member of the 11th Public Affairs Detachment currently in Afghanistan.)

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