A FAMILY AT WAR

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This comment area is closed to new submissions. Visit ITVS.org to continue the conversation about this film.
8/31/10
Cal Branche
Hudson, FL.

While the idea is great, it's been done before, albeit fiction, when A Family a War was presented in 52 episodes on BBC from 1970-72. Granted the new documentary is based on a real family, there were undoubtedly millions of families throughout the world who have suffered when wars take place.

One of the last episodes of A Family At War showed the father visiting Germany to visit the grave of his son who had been killed (by an unexploded British bomb) trying to help a ravaged German family.

And one might read Archibald MacLeish' s "Lines For An Interment," written after the poet visited a French military cemetery in 1931.

LINES FOR AN INTERMENT

Archibald MacLeish

Now it is fifteen years you have lain in the meadow:
The boards at your face have gone through: the earth is
Packed down and the sound of the rain is fainter:
The roots of the first grass are dead.

It's a long time to lie in the earth with your honor:
The world, Soldier, the world has been moving on.

The girls wouldn't look at you twice in the cloth cap:
Six years old they were when it happened:

It bores them even in books: "Soissons besiged!"
As for the gents, they have joined the American Legion:

Belts and a brass band and the ladies' auxiliaries:
The Californians march in the OD silk.

We are all acting again like civilized beings:
People mention it at tea ...

The Facts of Life we have learned are Economic:
You were deceived by the detonations of bombs:

You thought of courage and death when you thought of warfare.
Hadn't they taught you the fine words were unfortunate?

Now that we understand we judge without bias:
We feel of course for those who had to die:

Women have written us novels of great passion
Proving the useless death of the dead was a tragedy.

Nevertheless it is foolish to chew gall:
The foremost writers on both sides have apologized:

The Germans are back in the Midi with cropped hair:
The English are drinking the better beer in Bavaria.

You can rest now in the rain in the Belgian meadow --
Now that it's all explained and forgotten:
Now that the earth is hard and the wood rots:

Now you are dead ...

5/30/06
Phil Goecke

Thank you for your program "A Family at War". I was immediately drawn to the mother of a fallen soldier asking weather this war was justified or not.

I think every american needs to ask themself that question.
2/24/06
Constance Keegan
Sharon, MA

Saw your show, "A Family At War" and thought it was a terrific! It made me think. My son was sent to Iraq in Jan. We had bought a type of body armor he felt was better than what would be issued to him. After first being told he could take the "Dragon Skin", at the last minute he was not allowed to, though I think some soldiers in Iraq do have this armor they bought themselves. If something happens to my son that might have been prevented by this armor, by experiencing the feelings and reaction of the soldier's mother in your story, I can tell I will be enraged. He was not allowed to take it by order of higher orders, not his unit's command. Thanks for your good work.
11/28/05
roxanne kaylor
clifton, Virginia

Did our soldiers die in vain? Was it all for nothing? How do grieving families find peace if they face the truth about war?

There are many kinds of betrayal in human affairs - forgery, embezzlement, adultery, murder. But in the affairs of state, there is no greater disloyalty, no greater act of betrayal, than to send young men and women to their deaths on the basis of fraud. To lie is to murder.

Only the truth can liberate the memory of the fallen. Our soldiers deserve a reckoning. And we must honor them in a way that affirms the sacredness of life. Jeff deserves the truth and I, as his mother, deserve the real truth about the reasons for this awful war. I cannot bring back Jeff. But I can help end the war and hold our leaders accountable for their crimes. I can turn Jeff's sacrifice into a message for peace.
11/28/05
Chad Everson
Princeton, MN

Selected submissions will be posted on our Talkback page. I think this says it all. Can you see the agenda presented here and on numberous other programs offered here? I am glad that there are patriots that do not listen to their mothers and the idiotic babble of the left and the media. Otherwise, our country simply would not be. When you can not comprehend the importance of this conflict then simply shut up so that you do not announce your ignorance to the world. Our President, our armed forces are doing the hard work you simpletons just can not grasp. God bless our troops, and our commander and chief, George W. Bush!
11/28/05
Alexandria, VA

This documentary deserves an award - what a terrific and terrifying look inside the life of a family on the frontlines. Whether you support the war or not, you cannot help but feel the pain of both Roxanne and Jenna. Pres. Bush does not have children or a spouse serving in Iraq so there is no way for him to know how the Kaylors (and the other 2,000+ families) have had their lives irreversibly altered. If his children or wife were in the military would we have proceeded differently with Irag?

Yet on the flip side, when you become a member of the military, as Lt. Kaylor did, wartime combat is a true possibility.

Roxanne has every right to question the circumstances of this war, but nothing will bring her son (and 2,000+ other soldiers) back. That is a heartache all of America bears.
11/28/05
Novato, CA

I want to express my deepest sympathies to the Kaylor family for their loss. This documentary served to do what no other media has managed to do yet--to bring home the importance of what our President constantly assures us we are fighting for: freedom. It's not just a right, it's a duty for each and everyone of us to exercise at the polls and in our civil institutions. Unfortunately, too few do. One of the huge differences between Vietnam and Iraq seems to be the only lesson our government learned--which is not to fight an ambigously justified war with a drafted military. The fact that all American families do not pay the same price and are not called upon to make the same tragic sacrifices that the Kaylors had to make has led too many of us to just sit back and let the news unfold. Our government is supposed to be for the people and by the people. And we the people have not stepped up to question our own governement's policies, to hold our leaders accountable for what they say and do in our name.

Maybe if all Americans had an equal stake in the success or failure (not to mention wisdom)of what our leaders do in our name, more of us would rise to the obligation that the oft used and too little exercised word--freedom--entails. And for those who question Mrs. Kaylor's right--or Cindy Sheehan's, or any other citizen's--to oppose our government's policies: shame on you! Shame on you for truly dishonoring the blood that has been spilled in order for us to do just that. It's not only a right to question our government, it's a duty.
11/28/05
Lynn Woodall
Rosedale, Louisiana

I don't know how these parents manage to speak rationally. I have been so angry about this issue and the longer it goes on the more angry I get. Last summer there was a call for the Bush administration to put a limit on this war and of course it declined. At that time I made the comment that the administration was giving all the military in Iraq an equal opporunity to be killed. I guess the real challenge for the Kaylors is to do something constructive in the midst of their devastation. On that count they have succeeded.
11/28/05
Matthew Gardner
Riverton, Wyoming

Only something as tragic as war can evoke so much emotion from so many people. I had not even heard of this documentary until stumbling upon it on television tonight. Initially, I was compelled to change the channel, however something made me sit and watch. I am honestly disgusted with PBS for their blatant bias and exploitation of the Kaylor family. I send my deepest sympathies and condolences to the Kaylor family, and I bear no ill feelings toward LT Kaylor's mother for her feelings, but it was apparant, just in who got the most press, that the original aim of this documentary was to use the pain and suffering of a grieving family to protest the Bush administration. Those individuals, such as LT Kaylor's father, and the reporter assigned to his unit who seemingly did not support this anti-war message, were barely heard from. It is disheartening to see how the producers lied to Jenna Kaylor. What dishonor you have shown, PBS and Mr. Pedersen, in exploiting this family's tragedy and pain for your own personal, political, and financial gain. As a current service member, I certainly hope and pray that, should I ever be killed in battle, my family and my memory not be abused in such a way.
11/21/05
Jenna Kaylor
Springfield, VA

As I read the comments about the film, I laughed at the differences in how people received it. I have only watched the documentary once (at the release in Denmark), and that was enough for me. I agreed for the film to be made under the "Promise" that the theme was "American Patriotism." It was explained to me that in Denmark, they do not have such a thing as patriotism, and have a hard time understanding how a family, such as ours, still supports the US Military and it's efforts. This, I belive, is the correct message. I was appauled at the showing that the film actually took the opposite direction. It disgusted me that it was very slanted towards the Anti-war agenda. I was very upset at the fact my part in the film was seriously edited! I thought long and hard about everything I said, to ensure that I protrayed the fact that I was proud to serve my country and fulfill my duty, and I know that Jeff was also. HE DID NOT DIE IN VAIN. He is my hero, and many others' as well. He was a great man who touched everyone he came in contact with. Thank you to everyone who sent out their thoughts and prayers. I am genuinely touched. Please continue to support our troops who have returned home, and who continue to be overseas. They all need as much support as possible.
11/14/05
Tom Weast
Cincinnati, Ohio

(I watch Independent Lens every week and have never written to PBS before.)

I just finished watching the Pedersen documentary: "A FAMILY AT WAR", about Jeff Kaylor and his amazing parents, his incredible wife and the honesty that was portrayed dealing with their terrible loss. I feel like I saw real people, for a change, reacting appropriately and courageously, and it was filmed in such a respectful way that gave different opinions of whether the war against Iraq is morally just, or not.

When I saw Jeff's mother crying and shaking her head at the Dedication Ceremony (where her son's name was engraved in stone) - when the speeches were being broadcast to the flag waving crowd, it was an incredible private insight to her true feelings of the possibility of the unjust sacrifice of her son. It was a refreshing piece of integrity and journalism that I rarely experience through any media on any subject. I need to personally thank this family for allowing me to experience their grief so intimately. Coming from a family such as the Kaylor's, Jeff must have been an excellant human being. What a loss.

So often in the media, the camera makes these war families appear as if they are unquestionably supportive of President George W. Bush and his failing Administration's decision of taking our country to war. We are spoon-fed the stereotypical, assembly-lined responses about patriotism in the USA everyday through corporate-owned media. The need for independent thinking through Public Broadcasting is more important than ever. Thank you for giving an honest depiction of a family who are sharing their grief with the rest of the world.

Through this family and their bravery, especially depicted in Jeff's Mom and Jeff's Wife, other families might be willing to also start to question the Ethics of this War, and not hesitate to speak out without having their patriotism questioned.

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Kaylor Family, Film Maker Jorgen Flindt Pedersen, and PBS.
11/14/05
CPT James Pope
Tacoma WA

As a soldier, I watched the film with a heartfelt saddness for the Kaylor Family and what they must deal with on a daily basis. Their sacrifices for this country are beyond understanding for many who have no exposure to the militiary lifestyle.

As a soldier looking at how my family might look at this war if I should parish, I was deeply angered at PBS for not providing balance to this war. I am a combat veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and I know and have seen firsthand Islamic Terrorism. I know the consquences of faulire in the face of this enemy. I am not angry at the Kaylor Family, I am angry at PBS for having an agenda. The majority of this film portrayed militiary families as being angry at the Bush administration and being ignorant to the consequences service in their country.

We know what we volunteered for when we jointed the service. We knew then that the majority of the time we couldn't speak out, we knew that the majority of americans could never understand our sacrifices. I have lost soldiers/friends in this war and its hard, and you never forget them. I am angry at PBS as portraying our lost comrades as senseless and portraying my fallen comrades service as worthless.

On a personal level, I have discussed with my family many times that I don't want them to portray my service as anything but honorable in the event I should parish. It makes me angry that PBS uses military families like the Kaylor Family when they know military personnel because of the Freeh's Doctrine can't speak out politiically.

PBS where is your balance?

James Pope
CPT, IN
US Army
11/14/05
St Louis

Well, congratulations PBS, you've done it again!

Your biased slant and lack of perspective NEVER ceases to amaze me. I cannot even begin to express my deepest regrets to the Kaylor family for their loss.

On the other hand, what ever happened to journalistic integrity (the true definition of an "ozymoron")? Where is the other side of the story? I know, I know, you were attempting to show two familes and their grief. Sure would have HATED for you to have told the stories of all the liberating acts that have occured since our involvement began in Iraq!

I also noticed that the interview with the reporter who was actually imbedded with Lt. Kaylor's unit was also kept nice and brief. As I reflect back to his comments, I know why...he was far too upbeat and positive and would have done damage to the story you were trying to portray!

And finally, PLEASE keep in mind, not ONE solidier who has died in the line of duty in this war or any other for the last 20 years has been drafted! They have ALL voluntered!!! Want a TRUE story? Go interview soldiers at Walter Reid or any of the countless other military hospitals around our nation and get their take on the war. You'll find men and women grateful to be alive but also ones who desire to RETURN to protect our nation. And oh yeah, to protect the VERY right YOU have to bad-mouth our modern day heroes!

God bless our service men and women and God bless the USA!
11/14/05
L. Thomas White
Boston, MA

Dearest Mrs. Roxanne Kaylor:

May Almighty God put the salve of HIS Love on your wounds from the seemingly senseless death of your son Jeff. Even a blind man can see your pain which only a Mom could know, since you brought him into this world.

Your son had a job to do and it was to tell the senselessness of this whole situation and he did it well with your help and Jenna, Your husband Mike and others as well. There is a bit more to do and then put that smile back on your face and always remember the good times you all shared with Jeff.

I will pray for him and for all of you.It would be wonderful to talk with you and personally say Thanks.

The film was a great tribute to your son and his life.
11/14/05
tz
cincinnati, oh

For the few posters here saying this was not balanced, you must've had your mind already made up before you viewed it. I will agree Mrs Kaylor was the focus but her husband was also given his point of view. I feel these posters missed the entire story.

Anyway... As being a veteran and my father fought in WWII (Iwo Jima)...I feel she should take some comfort that her son came back a hero and not unlike my fellow verterans of the Vietnam War.
11/14/05
mark
ohio

First and foremost my deepest condolence to the Kaylor family. And thank you for your views and especialy for your son and his sacrifice.
11/14/05
Jennifer Barnes
Seattle, Washington

Kaylor Family and Jenna Kaylor,

I cannot imagine what you go through daily, weekly, annually over the loss of your son, brother, husband and best friend.

Thank you for the gift of sharing your story with the many viewers outside your family; to me it was courageous.

My heart and prayers go out to you all as you work through your grief and understanding of "why".

Roxanne, I admire you for questioning and researching and having the courage to disagree with those around you who view this from the internal military perspective. I can only imagine this is yet another stress in an already incredibly sad and lonely place.

Jenna, you are so very lucky to have loved and have been loved so dearly by one human being. I am so sorry he is not by your side still.

As I read some of the comments posted in the past few days on this site, I am angered and pained for your family - - this was a personal story and I see some highly critical and hurtful messages posted that are being directed at you, rather than at the film itself. Please remember they are posted by people who's anger is based on their own beliefs and I am only sorry to see such anger and judgement being pointed at you.

Thank you, though, for being willing to stir discussion. There will alway be people who want to take sides (as some already are on the blogs here), but I believe the core point of this documentary and your family's loss is that we should stop taking sides and come together.

Jenna, thank you for serving and for believing in why you were serving. I admire you for your beliefs, and more so for questioning how to find happiness.

It would be hard for me to read some of these entries about myself or my family, and I just wanted to tell you there are many people like myself that support all of you in your journeys and thank you for sharing your family's story. It is hard to question ones government leadership (in any form), or even admit to questioning it. It takes courage and heart and I saw that in all of you.

I will remember your family and this film for the rest of my life. You touched so many people. Thank you.
11/14/05
Charles Schermerhorn
Lompoc, California

Thank you for your film on Jeff Kaylor and his family. The difficulty his father had in acknowledging the hypocrisy of the war was in sharp contrast to his mother's agony and anger.

Despite the fact that it has been common knowledge that the idea of the war was in the minds of Paul Wolfowitz and Donald Rumsfeld even before 9/11 seems not to matter to people who believe George Bush's protests that we HAVE to succeed.

I doubt that Bush is to blame. These two guys were very smart men who were able to persuade him of its desireablity. Wolfowitz is out of the picture now, at the World Bank, but Rumsfeld continues to appear, smirking and denying.

But "being in the military" has always had a bizarre and unique appeal to people for centuries, and those who volunteer for it and celebrate not only its glory but its tragedies, as we just did yesterday in Veterans' Day, "remembering those who gave their lives. . . " only contributes to the myth that it's a worthy sacrifice.

I'm an honorably discharged Korean vet, and I despise the whole charade.

But your program was good. I hope it reaches and persuades some people.
11/14/05
Joyce Roman
Philadelphia, PA

Dear Kaylor Family:

In October of 2003 I ran in the Army Ten Miler race in DC. Although I was deeply opposed to the war in Iraq, I greatly respect the men and women who serve in our armed forces and I was caught up in the spirit of the race, surrounded by many military personnel. About 3 miles into the race, I was nearly stopped in my tracks by a sight in front of me. It was the back of a t-shirt of a young woman and while I don't remember its' exact words, it read "In loving memory of my husband" and it had a photo of a very handsome young man and the date he was killed and where. I remember noting that he was killed pretty early on. I wanted to acknowledge the woman in some way, but what could I say? I felt guilty to pass her without a word but then I thought she might be best left alone. Months later ,I could never remember the name on the shirt, but the face haunted me since . I kept asking why such a gorgeous young man was taken and why such a beautiful young woman was left a widow. The whole sight - this recently bereaved young wife, running a difficult race in honor of the fallen soldier she loved -left me choking back tears. It was such a simple gesture - running a race in someone's memory. It was all I could think of the rest of the weekend and I always wondered what the circumstances of his death were and how his loss was impacting the family he left behind. "A Family at War" was such a gift because it answered all my questions. Knowing the impact Jeff's loss has had on his wife, Jenna and his mother especially has not made my encounter with Jenna any less painful. But at least now I have some answers to questions which have haunted me. The one answer that neither I nor his family may ever have is whether his life was given in vain. I don't think this war was worth a single American life, but I think that so long as he was doing what he loved, and what he belived in, Jeffrey Kaylor did not die in vain.

The image of Jenna running in that t-shirt is burned in my memory. I will carry all of you with me, including Jeff, and remember you in my prayers. Thank you for giving up your husband and your son, twice. Once, to the war in Iraq. And second, in this documentary that allowed me and other Americans to see the greatest cost a war can have.

God bless you
11/14/05
Alexandria, VA

This documentary deserves an award - what a terrific and terrifying look inside the life of a family on the frontlines. Whether you support the war or not, you cannot help but feel the pain of both Roxanne and Jenna. Pres. Bush does not have children or a spouse serving in Iraq so there is no way for him to know how the Kaylors (and the other 2,000+ families) have had their lives irreversibly altered. If his children or wife were in the military would we have proceeded differently with Irag?

Yet on the flip side, when you become a member of the military, as Lt. Kaylor did, wartime combat is a true possibility.

Roxanne has every right to question the circumstances of this war, but nothing will bring her son (and 2,000+ other soldiers) back. That is a heartache all of America bears.
11/11/05
Jamie
Sarasota, FL

Having been a part of the first Gulf War I completely understand your position regarding the current war. Nothing will make the loss easier except time. Your son is a true American hero.
11/11/05
C.R.

How painful and infuriating it is to watch the faces of Kaylor's mom and widowed wife reflect the shocking realization that this Administration has perpetrated crimes against humanity and treason, against our own fighting men and women, and the against the whole country.

I will never be able to overcome my sense of outrage and disgust at this.
11/11/05
Harrisonburg, Virginia

1. Speaking as a mother, I must agree with Mrs. Kaylor. I can only imagine the pain she has felt with the loss of her son. Nothing is worth the loss of a child, let alone to an unnecessary war.

2. Let's remember that we are in a war without cause. Over 2,000 American soldiers have died, and for what? I feel that the groups that use the death of soldiers to protest the war are being respectful and that they just want peace and no more loss of life.

3. I thought this documentary was extremely well done. I wish every American could see it. I think the film captured the family emotions of losing a loved one to war. It touched me deeply.

God Bless the Kaylor family.
11/11/05
clarence bell
pensacola, FL

I'm in agreement with the mother of the fallen soldier. Oup president needs to be willing to speak to greeving families on a personal level.
11/11/05
A Miller
Kaneohe, HI

I wish to express my condolences to the Kaylor family. My husband is in the Army and currently in Iraq, and it was difficult for me to watch the show but hard to turn away. All military families with loved ones in Iraq and Afghanistan live day to day fearing the same fate - there's no guarantee who will come home safely and who will not. I thought the documentary did a good job telling the story of this family and how complicated the issues of this war are. It brought to life the sacrifice being made by all soldiers and their families.
11/10/05
Alice and Ron Adams
Austin, Texas

To Mrs. Kaylor and Jeff's wife:

Never I have felt so helpless as I viewed Jorgen Flindt Pedersen's film last night. As I watched the two of you work through the initial phases of your grief, my heart was screaming for this nation's leaders to make amends to you and to the other families that have paid with the lives of their sons, daughters, husbands and wives.

Yet, as I watched this close-up of what it must be like to lose a loved one, I decided that no one could ever do enough, could apologize enough...for the shortsightedness of the president, the Pentagon and anyone responsible for taking the US to war in Iraq.

All I can say is that I'm so, so sorry Jeff was killed. He was special -- we could see that -- and even though his intentions were awesome in serving his country, we have let you down...I just wanted to tell you how I feel.
11/10/05
Norwood, MA

I respect the family's sacrifice and grief. I think the film was balanced from the perspective of having his widow, a soldier herself, as part of the story.

To people like Lt Kaylor's mother I always want to ask the same question:

If you do not think we should have gone to war, what should we have done?

This was a brutal regime that was raping, torturing and murdering their own people, not to mention letting them starve while Saddam and his buddies siphoned off oil-for-food kickbacks from corrupt UN and French officials.

If we did not take care of this guy when we did, we would have faced a far more dangerous situation down the road.

- Former Marine
11/10/05
Valrico, Fl

Where is the balance that PBS purports to achieve? At least 85% of this film was from the mother's point of view. Her negative comments about the president were repeated over and over. Fair and balanced is a joke at PBS.
11/9/05
Robert McMarlin
Murrysville, PA

If this were a real war, the whole nation should be making visible scrifices, but the Bush Administra- tion is only asking a sacrifice from those in the military and their families.I pray that Lt. Kaylor has not died in vain and apparently he believed in what he was doing.

The deaths of soldiers are tragic. I cringe every time their names and photos appear on the Lehrer NewsHour. But they are the most visible means of measuring the futility of our presence in that country. I suspect both political and respectful reasons govern the thinking of both groups.

I think the filmmaker succeeded primarily, though I felt uncomfor-

table when listening to Jeff's parents and wife articulate their deepest feelings.

PS: I am a 1960 graduate of Virginia Tech and was a member of the Corps of Cadets. The Corps' tribute to Jeff was magnificent and deserved.
11/9/05
Fargo, ND

Thank you for airing the story about how Mr. and Mrs. Kaylor are dealing with the death of their son. We all grieve differently, and it was a balanced report of emotions and beliefs.
11/9/05
Jeanette Cool
San Francisco, CA

I agree with Jeff Kaylor's mother. Her son died in vain. War is a sign of failure---failure in diplomacy, failure to understand the interdependence of every country in the world. To send our children off to kill other people's children is a horror. To send them under the guise of lies is a tragic crime. The Bush administration has lied and many have died. I think any parent has the right to protest the war especially after the death of their child. Parents are not the exploiters -- the administration that sent these children into Iraq for no reason -- into an unnecessary war (the most painful of phrases) are those who are exploiting. I agree with Ms. Kaylor -- this IS a war about oil.

I think that this documentary was very good for the public. With the media HIDING the war -- we see nothing, really-- it is important to know, see and remember the pain and futility of wars such as these.
11/9/05
Alyson & Dennis Gibeau
Middletown, Connecticut

First we must say how much we appreciate that you shared your son's life with us. It is not who has the right answer as to why their son died. For each must find the answer to the loss and pain in their own way. Yet,we are like Ms.Kaylor for we have always questioned the war and will continue to seek the truth behind the lies that took us to war in Iraq. What has been hard for us is feeling that if we spoke out we would cause the families of those who have lost loved ones more pain. Ms.Kaylor helped us understand that sometimes speaking out helps the pain. With our deepest sympathy.
11/9/05
MAJ Barreto
Fort Monroe, VA

Dear Kaylor Family,

Thank you for allowing us, fellow Americans, gain a glimpse of how profoundly painful and confusing it is to loose a love one, an American Soldier to a war "over there". I will not attempt to insult the Kaylor family by saying I understand the full measure of their sorrow. Such pain can only be experienced by those in similar insufferable circumstances I imagine. I wish to render some sense of understanding however as to why 1LT Kaylor, dearest son and loving husband, has joined in the ranks of our brave and greatest Americans who since our revolutionary war have paid the ultimate sacrifice for a cause greater than themselves. What motivates people like Jeff to willingly risk their precious life in the line of duty? Some may simply think it stems from the oath he rendered to serve and defend our nation when called to do so by The Commander in Chief, The President of the United States. I respectfully submit that such solemn oath is but a declaration of a time honored calling, a calling inspired by those men and women who fought for the ideals of a indivisible republic and through their sacrifice gave birth to this imperfect but greatest of republic in the history of mankind. I write these words with the sincere hope that Jeff's dearest mother may understand her son's sacred destiny as an American hero. I hope my words brings some level of comfort to this loving family seemingly struggling to cope with everyday life. It is noble to seek accountability from our government for acts which jeopardize our global standing as the stewards of freedom and democracy. History will judge us and so it will be written rest assure. As you wrestle to make sense of your sorrow please remember what matters today, your husband, children, daughter in law and the rest of you family. Everyone of these members deserves your comfort and support as they continue to live not in the shadows of Jeff but in the warmth of his memories. You must be now the strongest of all as you nurture them with your love. Today's world is in desperate need of it. So please focus on them and live life as your loving Jeff I am certain would have wanted it to be.

With deepest affection for you whole family.
11/9/05
Steve Simons
Phx, AZ

I just watched the show shot from the Moms POV. It disturbed me tremendously! What a hack job she did on her sons memory, stomping on his legacy with her IGNORANCE!

The father had it nailed at the end... but she, she was really puzzling to me.

Unlike her, I think her son died with Honor, his cause is noble, and thank God for Men and Women like him!
11/9/05
Joel Cameron
Plano, TX

The introduction of this film states that a 'good' documentary (therefore it is understood that this would be a 'good' documentary) helps a person decide where they stand on an issue. In order to 'decide', of course, one must be educated on more than one viewpoint. Yet the primary perspective defined in this film is the anti-war position of a military mom looking for someplace to focus her anger at the loss of her son. President Bush is an understandable target for someone in her position -- after all, he pulled the trigger on the war. What concerns me is this film makes zero effort to show the opposite perspective on the Iraq War and its place in the overall War On Terror.

This film obviously fails to explore, equally, the perspective of a clearly loving husband, tolerant of his wife's rants and anger in the midst of such pain. We are shown him choosing to accept the loss of his son in military conflict. But I can only wonder if this husband and father, himself a career military man, is truly so silent about his own perspective on THIS particular war (which the film does not define for the viewer), or if his shared viewpoint simply proved too dangerous to the filmmaker's objective to be included.
11/9/05
Deborah J. McCoy
IL

This movie communicates the impossibility, absurdity even, of taking one side or the other of Jeff's parents. It is so clear that yes, of course, death in war is the price some must pay for accepting the life of a soldier. Is that belief incompatible with Roxanne's assertion that Jeff died in vain? I don't think so.

Jeff's father noted that our reasons for going to war were probably "complicated." Yet, the American public in the rush to war was discouraged from careful consideration of those complicated reasons and the potential costs.

Thank you for a respectful and heartbreaking documentary.
11/9/05
x -Navy medic

Roxanne is too close to have perspective (Mike is doing better).

Iraq is at least as bad as America's Wild, Wild, West. He who has the biggest gun or gang rules a city. Even the good people of Iraq can't do much with thugs in charge.

This isn't something that can be corrected in a week. You didn't really think France or some other country would solve the problem?

In 10 years, other Middle East countries will be wanting the freedom, prosperity, and democracy that Iraq has. In 50 years the world will be a much better place.

-this way sure beats WW3; and in our own backyard.

Thanks to all who sacrifice
11/9/05
Jan Meng
eucha, ok

I can't tell you how often I've wondered about mothers such as Mrs. Kaylor. I knew they had to be out there. She was so heartbreakingly eloquent.

Our son is in the military...Air Force. And not in direct harm's way. I would be furious if he had to deploy to the Middle East. I understand that in today's military, the soldiers are volunteers. That's thrown back at military families often enough. Usually by the government elite whose children do not opt for military service. But it's one thing to serve and die for your country, it's quite another to die for an ill-planned cowboyesque adventure. That's the agony: not that your son or daughter died in service but that he or she died in a sham war.

I want Mrs. Kaylor and her family to know I too am disgusted by the loss of prime young Americans, and am not soothed by the patriotic pap dished out by the administration.
11/9/05
coral gables, fl

Iraq attacked the twin towers? Why did both the mother and father still think this in 04? Even the mom, Roxanne, did not seem to know the world of difference between Al Quida and Iraq (in fact, they hated each other). Even Bush admitted it, yet as PIPA (summary of all polls) showed, most Americans continued to believe the fraudulent Iraq-Al Quida link even after it was proven that there was none. There was never any objective support for a connection, and any hint of Iraq-Al Quida connection there was was removed by the Bi-Partisan 9-11 commission in their report, showing it all a fraud. Sadness on top of sadness that, as Roxanne said in the end of the film, we seem to learn nothing from history, and continue to allow administrations to start wars for illegal or immoral reasons.
11/9/05
Dallas TX

A fascinating and heart-wrenching docu. Thank you. All perspectives were expressed by the various family members. Regret that the siblings of the deceased soldier were not included. Thank you for this fine work on film. The filmaker met his goal of examination of family sorrow without making us feel interlopers.
11/9/05
Oconomowoc, WI

Jeff Kaylor died in vain. I agree with the mother. I understand the father's (mistaken)premise that this military action was in defense of our nation and therefore his son died honorably.

The thousands of horrific injuries, the death of soldiers, & the inhumane status of the beleaguered Iraqi civilians needs to be revealed to appeal to the world's citizens to peacefully stop this stupid horrible war. The motives of groups using the death of soldiers is a realistic attempt to tell the truth. The pomp & ceremony of the military funeral works for those in power orchestrating Bush's excellent PR efforts. And yes.
11/9/05
R. C.
Port Richey, Florida

Wonderful program that only an independent film maker could produce. Very balanced. Very human. Very real. Very honest. The emotions I felt while watching will be with me for a long time. I don't purport to know how a professional military family deals with this issue. Maybe better than the rest of us. Seeing a purpose, a reason behind such a tragic loss has got to help. If there was no good and honest reason then the loss was in vein and that would be too much to bare. Our President needs to see this, everyone does.
11/9/05
mando hinojos
Austin,Texas

I enjoyed the doc. and I felt deep sorrow for the the family of Jeff Kaylor, however I could'nt help but fell the bios slant against the war effort going on in Iraq and the emotional tug of a mother who bore a son and lost him to a cause that he himself believed in. not to mention the political view point of primarily his mothers emotional view of PRESIDENT Bush and blame of her sons death on the President. this doc. was not a fair and "BALANCED" view of the soldiers belief of why he or she might die for a cause they "DID" believe in for the Iraqie people, even if we can't understand it. we should respect and honor the soldiers view and not what the griveing mother "feels" that her son might have thought or felt based on HER understandable feelings of loss and grief.
11/9/05
Robert Leibold
Fayetteville, Arkansas

Jeff Kaylor's father is right: Yet what wasn't effectively explained within "A Family at War" was the undeniable realpolitik at root in the war in Iraq. The war isn't centrally about oil, American "empire," American "hegemony," or American "adventurism" and George Bush, as auto-didactic Cindy Sheehan would have the world believe--it's a byproduct of the Arab states' longstanding, historic desire to destroy Israel, as unequivocally stated in October 2005 by the Iranian president, himself an unrepentant terrorist and hostage-taker. The war in Iraq isn't about America, it's not about Iraq: It's about the very defense and survival of western civilization, an ideological conflict which might well burgeon into the Third World War, into unparalleled catastrophe. No sensible human being wants war, and the Cindy Sheehans' of this increasingly unhappy world aren't the sole proprietors of moral conviction or absolutism in this sense. The 2,948 victims of 9-ll certainly didn't want war any more than those opposed to the Iraq War, and yet they were extended absolutely no say in the matter. Cold-bloodedly murdered before every television screen worldwide, they were an undeniable example of the plan the Muslim world holds for the destruction of the West. In the end you can either stand aside and do nothing to defend yourself, or you can assume Jeff Kaylor's stance. Like him or not, as our president rightly said, "You're either with us, or you're against us." From my point-of-view, those like Cindy Sheehan have readily made it apparent where they stand on this matter, and they're the ones--in the end--who're the primary catalysts for the coming world war, just as was Neville Chamberlain sixty-seven years ago when a similar calamity befell the freeworld.
11/9/05
Warren
Austin, TX

The family's pain causes them to search for answers to the value of dieing for this war .. but only as it impacts their family. With a little research, one will find that for every American who is killed in Iraq 5 school age children have died by our hostility; 3 Iraqi mothers per American soldier; and who knows how many inocent men have died? We colored ourselves the peacemaker as we invaded, we were the freedom force as we controled all aspects of life by way of Marshall law and we enlighted them with democracy as we imposed/installed our government on the land. The Kaylor's will soon find that even the victors can't whitewash away aggression as patriotism. Their son died not in an unjust war, a war that could have been avoid, a waste of a war. They will have to face that that their son was on the wrong side of the guns if he was to on the side of good. Later, we will liken these soldiers to those who hunted the Native American with Custer. We will be satisfied that they died as they did so that they did not kill more.
11/9/05
Milwaukee, WI

The first realistic picture I've seen thus far into a family's struggle with the loss of their son in what is the second Viet Nam. I didn't support the preemptive strike our President initiated and have only been more and more embarassed and ashamed at what our leaders have chosen to do over the course of these past several years. I completely agree with the mother in this piece and only pray that there not be more women in her situation.
11/9/05
Mary Griffin
Woodbury, Ct

I was so moved by Roxanne Kaylor's story. If possible, please pass on my sympathy and compassion and admiration of her bravery. She allowed me to connect with her grief and raised my resolve to work on saving the lives of other heroic children.
11/9/05
Brooklyn, NY

It's been 37 years since my boyfriend, Greg, was killed in Vietnam. My life has gone on and much has happened to me in the interim but the pain doesn't go away nor my shock and disappoint-ment when I realized how unecessary his death was.

Greg was 21 years old and had four more months to his tour. He was a dear, sweet young man who wanted to become a high school teacher. He not only wrote to me and his freinds and family faithfully, he wrote to a 4th grade class as well. He died from shrapnel wounds.

It's so painful to hear the grief and confusion expressed by this generation's victims of political hubris. My heart aches for Jeffrey Kaylor's mother, father and wife. Their grief and confusion, each expressed in such different ways, is palpable.

I admire their courage to share this moment in their lives with us. I wonder if they know the gift they've given and how far back their gift reaches. It was taboo to speak out in 1968 so we cried into our pillows. There are many thousands of us from that era who understand something of what they're thinking and feeling. I'm sure I'm not the only one reliving their loss as families like the Kaylors face their's.

It's very hard to watch history repeat itself.
11/9/05
Heather
Newport News, VA

I was very moved by this documentary. This is REAL reality TV. Thank you, PBS.



11/9/05
Nashville, TN

I watched the movie and it angered me. Not because I agree at all with the mother, in fact I was angry mostly at her comments. My brother is in the army and I don't feel that this woman's complaints/anger are valid. I ask her what is the other option for America? Sit and wait for the enemy to attack us on our own land. Most of the statements that this woman makes are completely unfounded and invalid. You cannot blame the entire war on the president. This lady needs to be in therapy. She needs to learn how to cope with grief and not try to blame one person on something that he had nothing with. I would hate to lose my brother to the war, but I don't feel that it is right to blame the president for everything. She seems to get pleasure out of any problem that he might have.

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