This is Sgt. Regina C. Reali. She lived in Fresno, California. She worked at Home Depot in Clovis and attended Fresno City College. By all accounts, she had a plethora of friends, among them the sixth-graders who sent her care packages of toothpaste, crayons and rubber bracelets.
She was twenty-five years old.
She died on December 23, 2005, in Baghdad, when an IED exploded near her Humvee.
She left behind her father Richard and her brother Paul, and her friends.
She is one of 80 women—mothers, daughters, sisters, wives—who have died in Iraq.
The Mother's Day Project will memorialize these women. Begun by Anne at ThreadingWater, it involves two tote bags. The first will bear 79 names; the second, the same 79 plus one more, who died after the project was begun. Volunteers (of whom I am one) will stitch each woman's name on muslin and Anne will make them into tote bags. When they're complete, they'll be passed around among the volunteers who took part—each one will have a bag for a couple of weeks, to carry with her and to hopefully spark some conversation.
Anne says: Why a tote? Because I want something utilitarian. Something that will go out into the world every day as a reminder of this horrible loss, made more horrible as people recognize that these names represent only a very small portion of the human toll this war has taken.
And, of course, the names are only the soldiers. What about the hundreds and hundreds of Iraqi women who have died? We don't know their names. We don't know how many of them there are. And we have no way of finding out.
So I'm stitching Regina C. Reali's name on a piece of muslin, and holding the dead—both American and Iraqi—in my thoughts while I work.
It won't bring her back. It won't bring any of them back. But it just might make someone think.