A SOLDIER'S MOTHER
When Peggy Buryj sent her son off to war, she was in favor of the mission but was "scared to death" for Jesse. She knew that soldiers were dying but also that her son felt a deep responsibility to defend his country.
"He would have been pissed off if there wasn't a war to go fight," said Buryj, of Canton, Ohio. "He was a warrior."
Buryj's worst fears were realized on May 5, 2004. A panicked Iraqi drove his dump truck through a military checkpoint in Karbala, eliciting gunfire from U.S. and Polish soldiers. Pfc. Jesse Buryj was shot in the back. The Army at first ruled it a car accident but months later acknowledged it was a case of friendly fire.
Peggy Buryj remains committed to the conflict nonetheless.
"Yes, I am frustrated beyond belief with this war, but I still think it's the right thing to be doing," she said. "People think I have to justify this war just because my son died in it. That's not the case. I think we must secure that area of the world and make it stable, otherwise my grandson is going to be over there."
"We have to eradicate our enemies," she said. "That's where the terrorists are."
A young man, who knew her son well, recently asked Buryj whether he should go to fight in Iraq.
"You have to do what you're called to do," she told him. "My son stood for the honor and the dignity that should have been given him in his death. I would never stop anyone from going, because down deep inside I know my son did the right thing."
-- Josh White