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April 01, 2005

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Publication Date: Friday, April 01, 2005

Soldier's grandfather mourns loss Soldier's grandfather mourns loss (April 01, 2005)

By Elwood Ballard

As a parent, I am aware of the old adage that a parent is not supposed to outlive their children. Many times, prayers of thanks have been given for the blessing of seeing mine grow to fine men and women. Now in my 70s, I felt safe that would not happen to me.

I was not prepared for a loss that would bring a pain far greater than any I could imagine. To hold my son just after he was told his only child, a soldier, was killed in action. To feel his tears against my face, to feel his body sobbing and hear his cry, and I could do nothing to ease his pain.

A parent is supposed to comfort his children and tell them everything is going to be all right. With all the years of bumps, bruises, broken bones and heartaches, I felt helpless that I could do nothing to make this pain go away.

As a tank commander, Lt. Ken Ballard was a good soldier, a good son, a good grandson, a good man. Home on leave, he spoke of his pride in those he led and served. He told of the people thanking him for helping to free them, make their lives better, their future brighter and their country a better place to live. He felt he was doing something good. He did not talk about big business, oil interests or politics. He was proud to be a soldier.

Ken expressed dismay at the lack of media coverage of the good things the troops were doing in Iraq. They built schools and medical facilities better than there ever were in that country. They dug new wells for water to irrigate more land to provide more food. The Iraqis were given the freedom to choose their own leaders. He was proud to be a part of all this.

Ken died in this fight to give others the right to choose. Those that feel this battle is only motivated by political or oil interests have the right to voice their opinions because Ken and others fought for them. Some choose not to remain silent and speak out against what Ken chose as his calling. As for me, I grieve his loss but I will not dishonor my grandson by saying he gave his life for a worthless cause.

He left behind a father and a mother who love him and miss him. His grandmother and I, along with many others, miss him and share in this loss. I honor his life by defending what he died for.

A headstone bearing the name of Lt. Ken Ballard stands in Arlington National Cemetery along with this country's finest heroes. If I know my grandson, his spirit is with his heroes, his buddies, doing what he loved. Well done Ken, we love you and are proud of you. Rest with our love.
Elwood Ballard lives inn the East Bay city of Newark. He is the grandfather of Lt. Ken Ballard, who graduated from Mountain View High School in 1995 and died fighting in Iraq nearly one year ago.

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