Margaret "Peg" Mullen


"Her 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 leaders."
—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.