Margaret "Peg" Mullen
outrage... challenged conventional Midwestern morals and,
as often as not, alienated
friends, family, the citizens of Iowa and a war-torn nation.
She exposed the self-righteous and aloof among the nation's
Michael Scott, 1997
Margaret "Peg" Mullen of Brownsville,
Texas has been a national anti-war figure, holding the government
and its military accountable for the thousands of personal
and family tragedies of the Vietnam War, and war in general.
Mullen, born in 1917 and a former Black Hawk County farmer,
had always been politically active. Yet when her son, Michael
Mullen, 25, died in American artillery fire that was misdirected
during the Vietnam War, her life's work was solidified.
She and her husband, Gene, placed a half-page anti-war advertisement
in The Des Moines Register on April 12, 1970 containing
714 crosses, representing the number of Iowans who had died
in the war up to that time, with the words: "A SILENT
message to fathers and mothers of Iowa: We have been dying
for nine, long, miserable years in Vietnam in an undeclared
war... How many more lives do you wish to sacrifice because
of your SILENCE?" In the face of much adversity, she
looked into the circumstances of her son's death and confronted
the government on its policies. C.D.B. Bryan wrote the book
Friendly Fire about Mullen's story, which was turned
into a widely publicized TV movie. Mullen wrote her own
version of the story in Unfriendly Fire: A Mother's Memoir,
published in 1995. She was inducted into the Iowa Women's
Hall of Fame in 1997.
UPDATE: Mullen died on
October 2, 2009.