Omar P.L. Moore/The Popcorn Reel
April 16, 2008
Karen Meredith, a mother who lost her only child, Kenneth
Michael Ballard, a First Lieutenant
who was killed in Najaf, Iraq on May 30, 2004, one year and 29 days after
U.S. president George
W. Bush declared "Mission Accomplished" aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln.
Ms. Meredith, a
single mother was at last night's Bay Area premiere screening of "Body Of
War", the new anti-war
documentary by Ellen Spiro and Phil Donahue, with whom Ms. Meredith is
pictured with, below
at the right hand side. "Body Of War" opens on April 18 in San
Francisco and Berkeley.
(Photos: Omar P.L. Moore/PopcornReel.com; photo of First Lt. Ken Ballard
below courtesy of
First Lieutenant Kenneth Michael Ballard,
pictured here in Baghdad, Iraq. He was just 26 when
he was killed in Najaf on May 30, 2004.
For more about First Lieutenant Ken
Copyright The Popcorn Reel. 2008. All Rights Reserved.
Click here: Please
listen to this before reading below (two minutes)
SAN FRANCISCO, California
There she sat, alone, but very much connected
to the woman
shown on the big flickering screen before her: Cathy Smith,
mother of Tomas Young, the U.S. soldier who after five days
in Iraq in early April 2004, was shot just below the left
and left paralyzed as a result. "Body Of War" is the
that features Mr. Young and his mother as they are shown fighting
to bring an end to the invasion in Iraq and to tell Mr. Young's
Last night, which was also tax deadline night, was
difficult for Karen
Meredith, a single mother from Mountain View, California. Her only
child, First Lieutenant Kenneth Michael Ballard, was killed on May 30,
2004 while serving in the U.S. military in Najaf, Iraq. "May is
bad for me, I hate May," she would say to me just prior to
the start of the documentary by Phil Donahue and Ellen Spiro,
which opens here in San Francisco and in Berkeley on Friday.
Ms. Meredith is a member of Gold Star Moms Speak Out, and she
saw herself on the big screen about halfway through during a rally to
end the U.S.-led invasion in Iraq in Washington, D.C.
She spoke tearfully to me about the multitude of
mourned her loss and commiserated deeply with anonymous notes,
the vast majority very kind and inspirational. She agreed with a
that was made prior to the start of the screening of "Body Of War", that
most Americans -- outside of the 1% that constituted the military
families who were going through unimaginable hell with their sons and
daughters in Iraq, some alive, some never coming back -- have not
sacrificed anything at all in the invasion of Iraq.
"In some ways," she said, "I have it easy. My son is
gone forever. But
I feel so much pain for Cathy, who's got Tomas as a living reminder
every day about what . . . ".
Tears flowed from Ms. Meredith at this point. She has
Ms. Smith, but would like to.
She talked to the hundreds that remained in attendance
screening, waiting patiently as many questions were asked by audience
members. She spoke of the U.S. military's response when she asked
have a photograph of her son's body. (Click on the audio link
They refused, saying that "'it was against army
regulations,'" she said,
adding that the photos weren't released, citing "privacy of the
Karen Meredith never got a photo.
"What will future generations see of this war? They
will be as sanitized
as what we're feeling right now," Ms. Meredith said, speaking about the
mainstream press and its sparse coverage of events in Iraq, as well as
the U.S. Army's closed-door policy on relatives seeing photos of their
Karen Meredith, whose only
child was killed in Iraq, with "Body Of War" co-director and
producer Phil Donahue last night. (Photo: Omar P.L. Moore/PopcornReel.com)