Archive for Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Our view: Lives of war widows changed forever

October 18, 2006

Last weekend, Tonganoxie resident Kelly Frantz was quoted in a Chicago Tribune story.

You see, Kelly and the rest of Tonganoxie have an anniversary today. It's been a year since Kelly's husband, Lucas, was killed in action in Iraq.

During the days and weeks after Lucas Frantz's death and his highly public funeral in VFW Park, many among us in Tonganoxie shook our heads.

We shook our heads in disbelief over the death of a 22-year-old soldier halfway around the world.

We shook our heads in horror as members of the Westboro Church in Topeka held up despicable signs, jumped up and down on tattered American flags and generally acted like fools, just feet from Lucas Frantz's funeral.

And we shook our heads in admiration at Kelly Frantz. We were amazed at her strength. We were amazed at her grace. And we felt as if we knew her. Even if we didn't.

In a recent interview with the Chicago Tribune reporter at Mo's Pizza, Kelly Frantz talked about her membership in an emerging "sisterhood" -- war widows who are in their teens and early 20s.

They've lost their husbands to war. They've been forced to grieve publicly. And, like reluctant celebrities, they've been thrust into a life that is uncomfortable.

The public feels as if these women belong to them. The public feels as if these women are their women, like these women's husbands were public sons and brothers.

But how is that fair to these young women. How can we claim a right to so much of their lives.

Kelly Frantz said that she now is contemplating a move from Tonganoxie. She feels as if she must leave here to truly find her own path.

And that's understandable.

Kelly Frantz's life doesn't belong to us. Kelly Frantz's life belongs to Kelly Frantz. Wasn't it enough that Lucas Frantz lost his life?

It would be pointless if Kelly Frantz felt she couldn't lead a normal life.

We should support and encourage this remarkable young woman as she walks down her own life's path, just as Lucas would want her to do.

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