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Home About Us Prisoners of Conscience Articles Through A Mother?s Eyes
Through A Mother?s Eyes PDF Print E-mail
Early in the spring of 2004, my daughter told me that she was considering ?crossing the line? at the SOA Watch vigil at Ft. Benning in November. She explained that she had been thinking about that action for two years, since her first vigil in Georgia. Meagan had been discussing, examining and praying about the decision with a small discernment group at the University of Dayton, and realized that she must take direct action in her witness for peace and solidarity with the people of Latin America suffering at the hands of SOA graduates.

Trying to fight back my fears and tears, I asked the usual questions people ask, such as Why? What difference will your imprisonment make? Will this action by one person impact the SOA? Is there something else you can do instead? Coming as no surprise to me, my daughter had a logical and compelling answer for each question. I was convinced of her determination to take direct action in November.

Meagan?s discernment and our conversations continued throughout the summer and into the fall. I joined her and a group from the University of Dayton at the vigil at the gates of Ft. Benning in November. This was my first SOA Watch vigil, and I was immediately moved by the passion, solidarity and peacefulness of those in attendance. How can a crowd of sixteen thousand feel so intimate? Throughout the two days of the vigil, listening to the speakers, to the musicians, and to those bearing witness, I was moved to tears numerous times. I was saddened, angered by the horrors perpetrated by the graduates of SOA, amazed by the never-ending messages of peace and non-violence, and convinced that I had to do something that would make a difference. The reason for my daughter?s decision was clear. Although I had told her all along that I supported her in her decision, I now felt in my heart that I understood what compelled her to take direct action, and I truly did support her.

On Sunday, prior to the start of the funeral procession, we somehow managed to find a few quiet moments together at the gates of Ft. Benning. As I held my child, I looked into her nervous but determined eyes and told her, ?You are standing up for those who can?t. I?m proud of you, and I love you.? As I saw her walk away, I knew that she was about to take a momentous step in her young life.

I next saw Meagan clothed in a black shroud and carrying a coffin. When she arrived at the gates, she fell to the ground in the ?die in? commemorating those who have died at the hands of SOA trained murderers. For what seemed like an eternity, I watched my daughter ?dead? on the ground and shuddered at the thought that this is the reality for many mothers in Latin America.

Her time for action finally arrived. She removed the black shroud, took the hand of her friend also crossing the line, and made her way to the gate. She frantically looked about the crowd gathered at the gate trying to find me. We spotted each other as she reached the gate. I made my way through the crowd, grateful that people stepped out of the way when I told them I was trying to get to my daughter. We hugged each other tightly, and simultaneously said ?I love you?. I kissed her, then watched as she crawled through a small gap at the bottom of the gate to Ft. Benning.

In violating the law of man, she had followed the much greater law of God. A strange feeling of peace crept over me as I told myself that it was done. She had done it. We now move on to the next phase of her witness for peace.

Seeing her in county jail attire at her arraignment the next morning was odd, but not frightening as I had expected. I knew that Meagan had been ready to take action. I think that I was finally ready for her to do so.

January brought our return to Georgia for her trial and that of her co-defendants. It all seemed surreal. My daughter would most likely be sentenced to prison. Intellectually, I knew that she was ready. I knew that she was strong and could handle it all. But emotionally, I continued to struggle with watching my child walk into the unknown. As a parent, I always tried to keep my daughter safe. It was difficult for me to realize that in this situation there was nothing I could do. It was now in someone else?s hands. The lawyers?? The judge?s? God?s?

Meagan always seemed to keep things in perspective. ?Mom, it?s only three months out of my life.? She was right. I reminded myself throughout this process that if she lived in Latin America and had spoken out against the government, she could have been killed. I thought of the hundreds of mothers who would never see their children again, because they had been killed or disappeared by graduates of SOA.

As I watched my daughter standing before Judge Faircloth, I was filled with pride. My child, now standing before me as a woman, was confident, passionate and adamant in her convictions about justice and peace. I was honored to be in the presence of those who stood up for those who can?t. I still fear for her safety and well being, because she?ll always be my child. But I am amazed by her courage, and know that she will emerge from this ordeal stronger. I know that Meagan will touch the lives of those she meets in prison. I know that it?s only three months. I know that the fight for peace and justice will not die. And I thank her.

Read more about Meagan Doty and her co-defendants here.

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