The Power of the Pen


Ariana Astorga, Writer

It was just another day sitting in the living room talking to my mom when the topic of people spreading false rumors came about. At first, we were just talking about kids from my school. I told my mom everything, so I called out names left and right. “Mom, did I tell you what Blah Blah Blah said about Blah Blah Blah?” You know, just talking. That’s when she brought up my titi, aunt, whatever you call it, and she told me a story I could never forget that would change my life.

First, my mom told me I came from a long line of soldiers from my great-uncles, my grandfather’s brother, and more. She said that growing up, she and her sister were constantly exposed to the army, even as children.  After 9/11, inspired by her family’s exposure to the military, the first thing my aunt did was become a military print journalist and still photographer. She wrote hundreds of military missions, but that doesn’t matter because this story takes place two years after her start in the army.

It was March 31, 2003, when my aunt, Christina Carde, published an article for Freedom Watch called “Afghan Women Celebrate Freedom, Equality.” This article was about a celebration on March 8th to appreciate women and look at their progress in medicine and education. They even celebrated the rebellion of an arranged marriage. 

After this, my aunt Christina wrote an article called “A Mom’s Mission” about what it’s like to be a mom in the military. This is where she stated, “I thought about my son and what could happen again if we didn’t do something [after 9/11]. That made me go ahead with my conviction to join the army.”

Even though this seems innocent, it was not, and this started a metaphorical bomb because, on February 14, 2003, a man wrote an article about my aunt and mothers in the army worldwide called “When Moms March Off to War”. 

The first thing he said in this article is that he has a problem with mothers in the military. His problem was mothers leaving their kids behind when going to war, taking in mind that he never said anything about fathers. He also said the mothers only joined the military as a feminist act and not to help our country. Another point he made is that my aunt’s child is young because, at the time, he was only 3, but I don’t think my cousin understands. He couldn’t understand at such a young age that my aunt would be there to raise him when he was older.

Then he said that my aunt did not enlist in the army for patriotism but that she signed up for college benefits and “30 pieces of silver”. If you don’t understand, he is calling her and mothers worldwide a sell-out. He then asked President Bush for help.


My aunt did not find out about this article about her until July 3, 2003. She wrote a comeback article stating his lies and then telling the truth about her story and proving everything he said was wrong to the period at the end of the page.

Because of this article, she won the rising star and outstanding new writer awards at the Pentagon.

As I said before, hearing this story changed my life. Why, do you ask? This story inspired me to go to a journalism camp called Write on Sports, where I found my love for journalism. After the camp, I thanked my aunt for inspiring me.

I finally understood what she used to tell me as a child, “The ability to write a good story is one of the most powerful gifts a person can possess. Writers are the authors of history and the scribes of legacies. There is no substitute for the power of the pen.”