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The Minneapolis Star Tribune

A Mother's Day Plea

Susan Lenfestey

Dear Mr. President,

Mother's Day has me thinking about what sort of present I'd like to receive this year. I realize this is of no interest to you -- I am so not your mother -- and yet, you are the only one who can make my day.

We've never made a big fuss over Mother's Day at our house, but when our children were young I did expect to find some token of affection on the breakfast table -- a picture frame made of painted tongue depressors, embellished with pine cones and moss, or a book of "pomes," bound and tasseled with yarn.

Now that those children are grown, my expectations are as changed as they are. Skip the bouquet of spring flowers, the card, or even the call. This year I want my children to share with me the gift of hope -- in their futures, in their children's futures. And that's where you come in.

We're the same age, Mr. President, so we were lucky to grow up in the glory years. America was coming off a truly heroic war effort and was generously taking care of its veterans, making the American dream of a college education and owning a home a reality for millions. Advances in medicine, such as the polio vaccine, put an end to most diseases that had killed children a generation before us, and public schools were the great equalizer, the pride of the nation.

We grew up believing that we were the greatest, kindest nation in the world, that there was nothing we couldn't do if we all put our shoulder to the wheel. We were the Peace Corps generation, heck, we even went to the moon.

Yes, we also saw our heroes -- well, mine anyway, Jack and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. -- murdered right in front of our eyes. And though you and I didn't go to Vietnam, we watched our classmates die in a terrible mistake of a war and vowed never again. Some of us did. But we also knocked down race and gender barriers and began to pay attention to planet Earth, and, if you recall, discovered a whole new mode of recreation along the way. Overall, we had a heckuva ride, as you might say.

But now, whether through our self-indulgence, shortsightedness or greed, we've pretty much trashed things for those who follow. And I am not OK with that.

I know that with only 28 percent of the nation backing you that you probably can't do much about any of this, but you have said that you are the Decider.

So on this Mother's Day I am asking you to decide to give us hope, because our children are having a hard time finding much of it. You could do that by embracing life and giving up the deadly folly of Iraq. You could do that by committing to the health care and education of all of America's children, not just its golden upper crust. You could announce an all-out scientific effort -- call it a crusade if that works better for you -- to reverse the disastrous effects of global warming. Those are just a few of the ways you could give mothers everywhere something to celebrate.

For six years you've given us fear, and it's taken a toll. This Mother's Day, surprise us.

Susan Lenfestey ( lives in Minneapolis and writes at the

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