When I first imagined this project, there were 79 female fatalities listed as casualties in the Iraq War. As much as I wanted that number to never change, I knew it would. The eightieth fatality was confirmed by the Department of Defense a few days later.
Katie Soenksen, 19, died on May 2nd when an IED exploded near her vehicle in Baghdad. Her funeral is taking place in Davenport, Iowa, probably as you’re reading this entry.
Like so many of you who have written or posted entries on your blogs about your experiences with The Mother’s Day Project, the connections we make posthumously – with strangers – can be unexpectedly powerful and moving. As I was preparing the fabric swatch with Katie’s name, I felt that connection myself.
While I was wondering how long the list of names could stay at 79, Katie was half a world away brushing her hair, thinking about her husband, laughing at a joke, dreaming in her sleep. A few hours later, in my bright upstairs room on a beautiful Midwestern spring evening, Katie was a name on a piece of fabric.
She is not a statistic. I am claiming Katie Soenksen’s name because, like this project, Katie claimed me.