On March 31, 2005, the third state sanctioned attempt on Terri Schiavo’s life actually took, and she breathed her tortured last. Iraq was a brand new democracy before it was overrun by ISIS, and the torment-by-starvation-and-dehydration of a brain damaged, but vibrant and beautiful young woman threw Iraqis for a loop. Her death and the spin that led up to it hurt our soldiers, damaged morale, and I talk about it at length in a chapter my book, A Ballad For Baghdad. The chapter is entitled Stetsons For Terri Schiavo.
Life is strange, and one of the many amazing blessings that came out of becoming a published author has been to come to know and love Terri’s dear family. This happened as a result of interviewing them for the book, having several phone conversations, being on radio together, and spending time with them in person. Her dad, Bob Schindler, has passed on. I am convinced that the stress of their ordeal ultimately killed him. Her brother Bobby, her mother Mary, and her sister Suzanne have since gone on to fight a noble fight for those who have no desire to die, but are being forced to. This relentless fight for life has happened through the Terri Schiavo Life and Hope Network, and on March 31, 2015, the Network celebrated Terri’s Day.
The Schindlers are Catholic, and each year on March 31st, there is a Mass celebrated in Terri’s memory. For the past three years, in association with Terri’s Day, there has been a gala fundraising celebration held to further the impact of the Life and Hope Network, and has had keynote speakers such as former Alaska Governor and US Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin, as well as talk and TV host, Glenn Beck. There is also an award given to an individual or family that has gone to extraordinary lengths to protect a life in peril as the result of the machinations of the pro-death culture in which we live.
Prior to Terri’s death, Glenn was living in Florida, and had his own successful radio show. When the Schiavo case first became daily fare in Florida, he was, by his own admission a complete idiot when it came to what was going on. He thought, as did I, that Terri was dying anyway, her family was not willing to let her go, and his ignorance of the facts of the case turned out to be as stunning as they were revelatory.
Then, Glenn experienced a fantastically painful but necessary humbling journey that he thought might be the end of his career. He broadcast an improvisational 18-minute radio segment in regard to his arrogance and stupidity, and became one of the Schindler’s strongest advocates. He fought hard for Terri, and when the battle was lost, he gave the eulogy at Terri’s funeral.
By contrast, our President, during his first run at the Oval Office, told a reporter that the biggest mistake he had made as a US Senator was signing the legislation (which passed unanimously, by the way,) that would have saved Terri’s life. As long as I live, I will never forget the day after he made that comment.
I was driving westbound on Nick Davis Road, and was on the phone with Terri’s brother, Bobby. With a hurt that I cannot begin to describe, Bobby rhetorically asked me, “How could he say that about my sister?” In this life I will never have an answer, but what I can say is that the Schindlers, Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, and multitudes of others who continue to fight for the vulnerable give me hope, 10 years later.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner