"After all the hoopla of this election, on Nov. 3 when I wake up my son is still dead," says Lila Lipscomb. "Some [other American] mother is going to have their child still in Iraq and there's going to be an Iraqi mother holding her blown-up baby. It needs to stop and we're the only ones that can stop it."
Lipscomb, the military mother whose effort to confront President George W. Bush with her grief was chronicled in Michael Moore's most recent film, Fahrenheit 9/11, spoke last month via phone in the midst of her October tour of cities, which ended on Halloween.
In the film, Lipscomb read the last letter from her son, Sgt. Michael Pederson, wrote from Iraq, pleading for the ouster of Bush. Pederson died in a Black Hawk helicopter crash in April 2003. Lipscomb took a leave of absence from her job with the nonprofit Career Alliance in Flint, Mich., to travel with the Tour of Duty: Americans Speak Out, sometimes accompanied by celebrities, and sponsored by several nonprofits led by Win Without War. Her Pittsburgh appearance was cancelled, but she isn't certain why.
Lipscomb endorsed the Democratic nominee, John Kerry, just before Election Day, but other military families with relatives in Iraq, rather than the election, have been the focus of her talks. "I try to give them a safe space to be able to vent," she says. "They can vent, they can cry, they can scream, they can hug" -- including families contacted by the Bush campaign to proclaim the rightness of the Iraq War publicly.
"Afghanistan was righteous," Lipscomb says. "But Saddam didn't pose a threat in any shape or form."