WASHINGTON, D.C. — Four years ago, former Minnesota state Sen. Becky Lourey traveled to Washington to bury her son, who had died in Iraq when his helicopter came under attack and crashed.
Today, the outspoken critic of the war will stand in front of the U.S. Capitol with her son’s widow, Lisa Lourey, who is a major in the Army, to watch the swearing-in of Barack Obama as president — a ceremony that both women hope will mark a promising beginning instead of an end.
“As someone who knows the Middle East, I think that is why I am so excited about this new administration,” said Lisa, who met Becky’s son, Matt, while they were both stationed in Egypt. “Now we have the opportunity to clean the table, to just wipe the slate clean and start in a new direction.”
Lisa’s excitement over Obama’s win in November prompted her to write to Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) this fall and request tickets along with thousands of other Minnesotans. To her surprise, she received two.
“It was so amazing that she [wrote] because I was so excited about this election,” said Becky.
During her time in the state Senate, Becky was one of the most liberal lawmakers. She circulated a petition opposing the United States’ decision to go to war unilaterally and also publicly sparred with then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.
For both women, however, the privilege to attend Obama’s inauguration in Washington today was bittersweet.
Pinned to her clothes, Becky wore a gold star given to her when her son died. In her purse, she carried a creased picture of Matt smiling at a kitchen table.
“I am grateful for what the Army has given me,” said Lisa, who joined when she was only 17. “But, it has also taken away.”
On Saturday, Becky and Lisa attended a get-together at Klobuchar’s home in Washington where they were joined by a group of Minnesotans, including Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and Minnesota House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher. Tonight, Lisa is planning on going to the Inaugural Purple Ball, which will pay special tribute to veterans and troops. (Lisa won tickets to the ball after writing an essay about her husband. To read her essay, go here.)
On the way to the inauguration, Becky and Lisa passed Arlington National Cemetery. Becky said: “My emotion was indescribable.”
Cynthia Dizikes covers Minnesota’s congressional delegation and reports on issues and developments in Washington, D.C. She can be reached at cdizikes[at]minnpost[dot]com.