A kid named Brian joined the United States Army last year.
I don’t know why on earth he would do such a thing while the current Dimwit-in-Chief is in the White House. Kids really should talk to me before they make such decisions. But this isn’t going to be another of my anti-war rants, though I’m sure you’re spoiling to read one right about now. It’s just a little story about a mother’s love and the good that can flow from it. Forgive me if I don’t get all these details exactly right. I’ll give you two links at the end of this, so you can read about it yourself.
Brian made it through basic training, as most do, and he got bigger and stronger and faster and tougher. His mother Lori, whom I am proud to call my friend, used her blog to keep us all posted on his progress. They spoke on the phone whenever they could — never often enough for Lori — and they visited in person a few times. The pictures often showed them happy but exhausted after all-night drives to spend a day together. Eventually the orders came for Brian to go to desert training.
A couple of months ago, Brian was deployed to Iraq.
Lori knew this was coming for quite a while before she told the rest of us. Maybe she hoped it wouldn’t happen, that by not saying it out loud she could keep it from being true. But as the song says, “This ain’t no foolin’ around,” and so, inevitably, Brian the young soldier had to go and do what he’d been trained to do.
Once he was gone, there were long periods when Lori wouldn’t hear from him. Think about that. Try to be Lori for just a moment, with your only child on the other side of the world, in a place where everybody has a rocket launcher under their shirt, and most of them would like to shoot you. Live with that fact, and get up and go to work every day and smile at the people, not knowing.
Lori sent care packages, of course, and Brian was properly grateful, when he was able to communicate. He asked for little: wet wipes (?), camera batteries. Who knew?
And this tough soldier asked for soccer balls, for the Iraqi children he was meeting on patrol. Lori complied, and threw in a Beanie Baby or two, reasoning that a toy is a toy. If the kids wanted soccer balls, why not stuffed animals?
Brian responded that the Beanie Babies were a big hit with the kids, and the other guys in his unit enjoyed giving them to the children, and could Lori maybe send a few more?
She could, and she did. She mentioned it on her blog, and soon she had 20 Beanie Babies. A week later she had 80 of them. Her bloggin’ buddies were also sending them directly to Brian’s unit. Lori started to doubt herself, figuring they must think she’s insane, a crazy mom, one step away from the shopping cart. Brian reassured her that the kids were loving them, the guys were loving them, and keep ’em coming.
I think war is the ultimate degradation of the human spirit. I have come to believe that nothing is so important that we must mount armies, invade nations, kill and be killed. As I have said here before, has anyone noticed that it never ends, that nothing is ever truly resolved?
And yet, against a backdrop of brutality, car bombs, assassinations, IED’s, RPG’s and suicide bombers, in the middle of this insanity, young soldiers (at least one of them barely past childhood) are handing out stuffed animals to children. These are the next generation of Iraqi’s. Someday they might be asked to do some killing themselves. I know it’s stupid to think that a remembered kindness could change their answer. It’s stupid, and yet…
As Lori says,
If world leaders can’t come to terms, at least we can, as mere citizens, shake one another’s hands, hand a few toys to their kids, and put smiles on their faces. If that’s not one step toward world peace, I don’t know what is.
One mother’s love has reached around the world and touched the hearts of some kids who have not had much to smile about lately, and by “kids” I mean both Iraqi children and U.S. soldiers. Maybe it won’t bring world peace, but maybe it will.
If you want to read about this yourself, Lori has started a new web site devoted to her “Toys For Troops” campaign. The Beanie Baby craze is over in the U.S., but it’s just beginning in Baghdad. Maybe you’ve got a few you’d like to send, or maybe you’d like to help in some other way. Check it out at
This whole thing is merely days old. Lori admits that she’s still spinning from all the activity and the unexpected generosity from across the country. This is not some slick campaign put together by rock stars. This is people reaching out to people, a pure grass roots effort and a labor of love.
Lori’s blog, where it all started, is at
Click on these links. Get to know Lori and Brian. Leave a comment. Find out if there’s a way you can help. I guarantee you’ll feel better.