LAWMAKERS INTERVENE TO HELP ARRANGE RUMSFELD MEETING FOR MOTHERS OF SONS SLAIN IN IRAQ

June 21, 2005
Press Release

WASHINGTON - U.S. Representative Mike Doyle (PA-14)announced today that he and three other Congressmen have urged Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to meet with a group of women whose sons were killed while serving in Iraq. The lawmakers, three Democrats and one Republican, sent the Secretary a letter after the Pentagon failed to respond to the mothers’ repeated attempts to secure a meeting on their own.

Reps. George Miller (D-CA), Henry Waxman (D-CA), Ken Calvert (R-CA), and Mike Doyle (D-PA) sent the letter after five mothers of fallen soldiers contacted the lawmakers to report that their efforts to arrange a meeting at the Pentagon – by phone, mail, and in person – went unanswered. Four of the five women live in the lawmakers’ respective districts.

“As you well know, few sacrifice more than those who answer the Armed Forces’ call to duty,” the lawmakers wrote to Rumsfeld. “And for the families of the fallen, we owe an enormous debt of gratitude. We now ask your help in granting these mothers the meeting that they have been so persistently requesting and, in our opinion, deserve.”

The five mothers – four from California and one from Pennsylvania – are Cindy Sheehan of Vacaville, CA; Vickie Castro of Corona, CA; Jane Bright of West Hills, CA; Karen Meredith of Mountain View, CA; and Diane Santoriello of Pittsburgh, PA.

“I knew Army First Lieutenant Neil Anthony Santoriello, Jr., personally,” Congressman Doyle said today. “He interned in my office. He was a fine young man who was deeply committed to serving this country, and I mourn his loss along with his friends, his families, and his comrades.”

“These mothers, no less than their children, have made the ultimate sacrifice for this country,” Congressman Doyle observed. “The burden of this war has fallen harder on them than on nearly anyone else. I think it’s outrageous that the Defense Department will not even answer their request for a meeting. Our country owes them that at the very least.”

“Several months ago, Secretary Rumsfeld admitted that the condolence letters he was sending to the families of soldiers killed in action were being signed with an autopen,” Congressman Doyle observed. “The Secretary, to his credit, acknowledged that such a policy was inappropriate and has since begun signing each letter personally as a gesture of respect and responsibility for each soldier killed and for their families’ loss. I believe that this situation is analogous, and that the Secretary or at the very least some senior Pentagon official has an obligation to meet with these grieving parents and shouldn’t shirk that responsibility.”

The letter to Rumsfeld can be read at https://www.house.gov/doyle/2005April28GoldStarMoms.pdf.