Grief is a raw and penetrating emotion that
should not be politicized.
But sometimes rare clarity comes out of the pain. And sometimes
unexpected healing can emerge from the tears.
The brave death of Pfc. Lori Piestewa can be one of those times.
In the rural Arizona town where Piestewa went to high school, those who
knew her spelled out her name with white stones atop a 200-foot mesa
just outside town. Flags flew at half-staff in the community where she
once led the Tuba City High School Junior Marine ROTC. Friends brought
food to her family.
These demonstrations of grief for a Hopi woman who lived on the Navajo
Reservation mark the sacrifice of a single mother who is believed to be
the first Native American woman killed in combat while fighting for the
These are touching, fitting and natural outpourings of the pain the
death of a loved one inflicts on the living.
Next month, Piestewa will be honored by the country she died for in
ceremonies in Washington.
That, too, is appropriate. The nation owes more than it can repay to
those willing to die in its name.
Arizona can do something, too.
The state can use this tragedy to end an enduring controversy and honor
a woman whose life was dedicated to service.
It can rename Squaw Peak as Piestewa Peak. It can end the long-running
concern by some Native American activists that the word "squaw" is
demeaning and insulting to the first Americans.
Some will say this is politically correct pap.
They are wrong. This can be a fitting way to honor one of Arizona's war
dead and heal an old wound.