American and Iraqi mothers united over the weekend for the inaugural "Hugs for Healing" event to remember their loved ones lost to war and violence.
Nine mothers from the U.S. flew to northern Iraq Sunday for the meeting put on by the group F.U.T.U.R.E., or "Families United Toward Universal Respect."
While there, they met with dozens of Iraqi mothers who lost their own children to decades of war and violence in the region.
"We are here to celebrate our children and celebrate their children lives and to be of sisters of one to another and to hug and to heal," explained F.U.T.U.R.E. Chairwoman Joan Betros. "So that they can be unified together in loss, but in hugging and healing and communicating and nation building together.
"My son had been killed only a year and these women made it very comfortable for me," Sheila Marshall said. "And many of my friends said after that, my eyes started to sparkle again."
Most of the American mothers had never stepped foot in Iraq.
"I was overwhelmed at touch down. We were really on the ground in Iraq," Amy Galvez of Salt Lake City wrote in a blog. "I was almost in disbelief that it was real. This is where my son spent the last days of his life, and now, I was there."
Both sides agreed the three-day meeting has brought them closure and some peace.