Lila Lipscomb Visits Oakland to Share Her Message

By
October 28, 2004

Lila Lipscomb didn’t want to become famous. If it were up to
her, she would still be at home in Flint, Mich. with her family,
working as an administrative assistant.

But because of her son’s death, and her participation in one of
the most controversial films of the year, Lipscomb is using her
newfound celebrity to talk with people about her opposition to the
Iraq war.

Lipscomb, along with Medea Benjamin of Code Pink, an
organization working for peace and social change, and Fernando
Suarez del Solar, who also lost a son in the Iraq war, gave a talk
after a screening of Fahrenheit 9/11 at the First Congregational
Church in Oakland on Oct. 14.

Code Pink and Win Without War sponsored the event. Over 80
people showed up for the event, many of whom had never seen the
film before.

Victor Lewis, a pastor at the church, introduced the film and
said: “This is a film that needs no introduction. Be prepared for a
feast of truth.”

After the film, Lipscomb was introduced as “America’s Military
Mom,” and received a standing ovation. Teary eyed, she started to
tell the story of how her son, Michael Pedersen, was killed when
his Black Hawk helicopter was shot down on April 2, 2003.

Lipscomb had encouraged her children to go in the armed forces
because she thought the armed forces could pay their way through
college, which she couldn’t.

Around the same time Pedersen died, Michael Moore was looking
for families in his hometown of Flint, Mich., who had lost sons or
daughters to the Iraq war. A friend gave him Lila’s name, and she
ended up being featured in Fahrenheit 9/11.

In one scene, Lipscomb reads her son’s last letter, in which he
thanked her for a bible and candy, and said: “What’s the matter
with Bush, trying to be like his dad? I really hope they do not
re-elect that guy.”

Now Lipscomb is going state to state telling her son’s story to
help defeat President George W. Bush in the upcoming Nov. 2
election.

“I didn’t choose my journey,” Lipscomb said, fighting back
tears. “I hug mothers who lost their [children] that they had for
only nineteen years. It’s a sick world that’s letting this
happen.”

Her son’s death at 26 made her see that “there are two Americas:
those who have, those that don’t. We have to close the gap.” She
also implored people to “take your blinders off. Don’t get caught
up in smokescreens.”

Lipscomb criticized the media’s coverage of the war; and said
that coverage of the helicopter crash that killed her son was
pulled from the news immediately. She said that after a talk she
gave, a Fox News executive gave her a hug, and whispered in her ear
that within three hours of the helicopter crash, Fox News was told
by the White House to pull the story off the air.

The pain hit home with Lipscomb when she and other families were
not allowed to receive their children’s caskets at the Dover
airport in Delaware. She was told by a military official that
because of delays with sending caskets back to the States, she
shouldn’t schedule his funeral. Pedersen’s casket was flown at
night to Dover, according to Lipscomb, “[like] a thief in the
night. My child was not a thief in the night.”

Frustrated, she and other families held a demonstration at the
guardhouse at Dover where she showed them Pedersen’s picture, in an
attempt to put a face to what was happening in Iraq. It was there
she met Suarez del Solar, whose 19-year-old son died in the Iraq
war.

Suarez del Solar received attention during the Republican
Convention when he held up a sign that read: “Bush Lied, My Son
Died.”

“He died only because Bush lied,” Suarez del Solar said.
“Beautiful boys and girls, killed only for political purposes.”

This is a new experience for Suarez del Solar, a native of
Tijuana to speak in front of people. “I love America, love USA. But
I don’t understand what happened. People don’t have a memory. They
don’t remember Vietnam. And now more than 1,000 boys and girls have
died. I am here for the children.”

Like Lipscomb, Suarez del Solar now goes to state to state
talking about his son. He also goes to high schools and discourages
students from entering the military. He said that at some high
schools, there aren’t any advertisements for colleges, but there
are plenty for joining the Armed Forces.

“November 2nd isn’t just removing Bush from office,” Suarez del
Solar said. “It is putting an end to a corrosive system in the
United States.”


Lila Lipscomb Visits Oakland to Share Her Message was published on October 28, 2004 in News

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