Dear Mr. Vice President,
I offer my most sincere condolences on the loss of your son. There are no words to express the depth of the grief that only a parent can know. Please accept my most humble thanks for his service to our nation in our time of need and for the life of honor he chose. His legacy is a credit to you as his father.
I share this pain with you, this horror of burying a child. I do no pretend to know the additional grief that lives in a heart already burdened with the loss of your daughter and wife. We both know that grief does not have an expiration date. Time masks the pain we carry but it never goes away.
As someone who is more experienced in living through the sorrow and sadness, I’m sure you are aware of the palliative effects of service, particularly that which is performed in our lost loved one’s name. Allowing grief to fuel our efforts is little more than a coping mechanism, but one that works by providing a larger context for the life we continue to live after the natural order has been violated. Creating something new in our child’s name does not bring them back or lessen our loss, but it does make their loss seem a little less pointless.
Another reality those of us who grieve know all too well is the struggle with questions. We wonder why, what could have been done differently and seek answers to the unanswerable. The hard truth is sometimes life is hard and unfair. Good people die. This is a fact of the human condition.
Your son lived a life of service. Your son so believed in us, the ideals that make the United States of America a shining beacon of hope for the world, that he swore an oath few dare. He promised to defend this country from all enemies, foreign and domestic, in a time of war. That is a good and noble thing and as a parent of a soldier, one of the greatest sources of the pride we can hold for our child. There is comfort in that, even in the face of this unbearable loss.
As your son lived a life of service, so have you. For that you have my thanks and respect. As a public servant, you may not be allowed the luxury of time alone with your family and for that I’m truly sorry. But, as Vice President of the United States you have the ability to ever so slightly adjust the scales in a way most of us who grieve do not.
One day soon you may, as so many of us have, want to do something, to create something positive in your son’s name. My dream for you and your family is that you use the power of your life of service to create the Beau Biden Brain Cancer Center for Veterans.
It has been said that Beau’s cancer was caused by his exposure at Camp Victory to what is known as the Burn Pits. Thousands of veterans have come home whole, as Beau did, only to suffer and ultimately succumb to brain and other cancers and illnesses caused by the toxins released by the necessity of burning the detritus created by a modern military encampment in a foreign land. Why some have become sick and others haven’t is another of those questions whose answers will never mend the broken heart. But those answers, whatever they are worth, will never be found without the concerted efforts of our best scientific minds.
At this point even collecting simple data on the number, types and frequency of these brain and other cancers is being intentionally impeded by the Veteran’s Health Administration. This is something else that you can significantly affect because of your position as a grieving father and holder of the second highest office in the land. Perhaps if this information were being shared by the VHA according to the mandate outlined in the Cancer Registries Amendment Act of 1992, screenings that may save if not prolong lives would be in place by now.
Mr. Vice President, I am sure that you join me in wanting to prevent any other parents from knowing what it is to bury a child. This is a dream that simply cannot be fulfilled, so we make do with lesser dreams. Requiring the Veteran’s Health Administration to resume reporting cancer data and creating an initiative to study and maybe one day cure brain cancer in your son’s name is an achievable dream. I sincerely hope and pray that in the fulfillment of this dream you find some peace.
Mother of PFC Andrew Meari
KIA November 1st, 2010
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