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May 9, 2008

Francis Richey Speaks to Soldier Son Through Poetry

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Inspired by her feelings about her son’s tours of duty in Iraq as a Green Beret, poet Francis Richey composed 28 poems for him compiled in a new book called “The Warrior.”

Richey, who raised her son Ben as a single mother, felt their relationship disintegrate when they disagreed about the U.S. presence in Iraq.

“We had always debated about politics, and I didn’t realize that when we were arguing, when he was so close to going into combat, that it was much more personal, that it hurt him when we argued,” Richey said.

In this interview with NewsHour correspondent Jeffrey Brown, mother and son discuss how Francis Richey was able to communicate her emotions to her son through poetry. Francis Richey reads two of the poems from her book, “The Warrior.”


1. “… from a soldier’s perspective, and everybody that’s involved is going to continue to do what they’re doing, whether people back here are paying attention or not.” – Ben Richey, Iraq War veteran

2. “I live in a world where a lot of people don’t think about [the war] and don’t want to think about it.” – Francis Richey, poet.

3. “In any kind of a civil way, because I was getting ready to leave. And, really, I think what we’ve both realized or learned is that, when soldiers are getting ready to leave, when service members are getting ready to leave, arguments and discussions about politics and about policy and those kinds of things are — while they’re important, they’re not as important as just the service member knowing that he or she is supported.” – Ben Richey, Iraq War veteran

Warm Up Questions

1. Why is the U.S. involved militarily in Iraq and Afghanistan?

2. Do you know anyone in the military?

Discussion Questions

1. What did you like about these two poems?

2. Why do you think it was easier for Francis Richey to express her feelings about her son leaving for Iraq through poetry?

3. What did Francis Richey say about the act of writing a poem?

Additional Resources

Read the transcript

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