(AP - Updated: 4:36 p.m. ET May 28, 2005)
Everyone agrees that Ligaya Lagman is a Gold Star mother, part of the long line of mournful women whose sons or daughters gave their lives for their country.
Her 27-year-old son, Army Staff Sgt. Anthony Lagman, was killed last year in Afghanistan when his unit came under fire during a mission to drive out remnants of Taliban and al-Qaida forces.
But the largest organization of these women, the American Gold Star Mothers Inc., has rejected Lagman, a Filipino, for membership because — though a permanent resident and a taxpayer — she is not a U.S. citizen.
The spirit of citizenry falls to the letter of citizenship.
“There’s nothing we can do because that’s what our organization says: You have to be an American citizen,” national President Ann Herd said Thursday. “We can’t go changing the rules every time the wind blows.”
But you can and do motivate non-citizens into military service? Is the expectation to serve as a citizen really so incompatible with being honored as one?
A past president of the mothers’ group, Dorothy Oxendine, of Farmingdale, said, “There’s no discrimination in a national cemetery. There’s no discrimination when they get killed side by side. So how can we discriminate against a mother?”
Another past president, Ann Wolcott, of York, Pa., said, “Times have changed since this organization was started, and there are a lot of men and women serving today whose parents are not citizens. I think they deserve every honor and privilege that we have as Gold Star mothers.”
One can only hope offering your son for a country would merit being offered citizenship by that country. But that's just the plainbelly Sneetch in me.