Thursday, August 25, 2005
Overheard today at Camp Casey
One late 50's-ish man to another: "If we had bottled water back during the Vietnam era like we do now, all of that protesting would have been a heck of a lot easier!"
Letter from a serviceman
This is a letter written by a U.S. serviceman to Larry Northern, the man who drove over hundreds of crosses at the Camp Casey memorial called Arlington West. It comes courtesy of the website Operation Truth.
I am a Veteran of the Iraq war, having served with the 4th Infantry Division on the initial invasion with Force Package One.
While I was in Iraq,a very good friend of mine, Christopher Cutchall,was killed in an unarmoredHMMWV outside of Baghdad. He was a cavalry scout serving with the 3d ID.Once he had declined the award of a medal because Soldiers assigned to him did not receive similar awards that he had recommended. He left two sons and awonderful wife. On Monday night, August 16, you ran down the memorial cross erected for him by Arlington West.
One of my Soldiers in Iraq was Roger Turner. We gave him a hard time because he always wore all of his protective equipment, including three pairs of glasses or goggles. He did this because he wanted to make sure that he returned home to his family. He rode a bicycle to work every day to make sure that he was able to save enough money on his Army salary to send his son to college. At Camp Anaconda, where the squadron briefly stayed, a rocket landed inside a tent, sending a piece of debris or fragment into him and killed him. On Monday night, August 16, you ran down the memorial cross erected for him by Arlington West.
One of my Soldiers was Henry Bacon. He was one of the finest men I ever met. He was in perfect shape for a man over forty, working hard at night. He told me that he did that because he didn't have much money to buy nice things for his wife, who he loved so much, so he had to be in good shape for her. He was like a father to many young men in his section of maintenance mechanics. They fixed our vehicles with almost no support and fabricated parts and made repairs that kept our squadron rolling on the longest, fastest armor advance ever made under fire. He was so very proud of his son-in-law that married the beautiful daughter so well raised by Henry. His son-in-law was a helicopter pilot with the 1st Cavalry Division, who died last year. Henry stopped to rescue a vehicle belonging to another unit on what was to be his last day in Iraq. He could have kept rolling - he was headed to Kuwait after a year's tour. But he stopped. He could have sent others to do the work, but he was on the ground, leading by example, when he was killed. On Monday night, August 16, you took it upon yourself to go out in the country, where a peaceful group was exercising their constitutional rights, and harming no one, and you ran down the memorial cross erected for Henry and for his son-in-law by Arlington West.
Mr. Northern - I know little about Cindy Sheehan except that she is a grieving mother, a gentle soul, and wants to bring harm to no one. I know little about you except that you found your way to Crawford on Monday night in August with chains and a pipe attached to your truck for the sole purpose of dishonoring a memorial erected for my friends and lost Soldiers and hundreds of others that served this nation when they were called. I find it disheartening that good men like these have died so that people like you can threaten a mother who lost a child with your actions. I hope that you are ashamed of yourself.
Perry Jefferies, First Sergeant, USA (retired)
Cindy with Gold Star and Blue Star families
At today's press conference, Cindy was surrounded by Blue Star and Gold Star families who said, "Cindy opened up the dialogue and gave others the courage to speak out against the war." Cindy also reached out to other Gold Star and Blue Star families who support the war, saying, "We may not have the same politics, but we have the same pain."
A representative from the American Friends Service Committee
spoke about their "Eyes Wide Open"
campaign, which highlights the cost of war by displaying a pair of empty boots for each fallen soldier. The exhibit has now traveled to Crawford so the AFSC rep could present three Gold Star moms with their late sons' boots, which they immediately placed at the foot of their gravemarkers.Photograph by Emily Sharpe, copyright 2005.
Cindy appearing on the Brad Show, streaming Internet radio, from the Crawford Peace House August 25, 2005
Photo by Jeff Paterson, copywrite 2005
Thu Aug 25th, 2005 at 03:09:30 PDT
The Peaceful Occupation of Crawford
I got up really early today to head back to Camp Casey. On the way, I had some amazing conversations with people. In one of those conversations, I was talking to Tyler who was sitting next to me on one of the planes. We were not talking about me and what I have been doing. Randomly, he told me he had just been in Texas about an hour north of Crawford. I said: "Wow that's where I am going and that's where I have been all month." He said: "I know I own a television." I thought that was pretty cute.
I got to Camp Casey and I arrived with a mom whose son, John, was killed on January 26, 2005, and his wife and baby, who never met his dad. We arrived in Waco at about 4:30 to the local press. The White House Press Corps was still with the president.
When I arrived at Camp Casey II this afternoon I was amazed at what has changed since I was gone. Now, we have a huge tent to get out of the sun; caterers; an orientation tent; a medic tent (with medics); a chapel, etc.
The most emotional thing for me though was walking through the main tent and seeing the huge painting on canvas of Casey. Many things hit me all at once: That this huge movement began because of Casey's sacrifice; thousands, if not millions of people know about Casey and how he lived his life and the wrongful way in which he was killed; but the thing that hit me the hardest was how much I miss him. I miss him more everyday. It seems the void in my life grows as time goes on and I realize I am never going to see him again or hear his voice. In addition to all this, the portrait is so beautiful and moving and it captures Casey's spirit so well. I sobbed and sobbed. I was surrounded by photographers, I looked around until I finally found a friendly face, then the news people crushed in on me and I couldn't breathe. I didn't mean to have such a dramatic re-entrance to Camp Casey, but the huge portrait of Casey really surprised me.
I can take all of the right wing attacks on me. I have been lied about and to before. Their attacks just show how much I am getting to them and how little truth they have to tell. What really hurts me the most is when people say that I am dishonoring Casey by my protest in Crawford. By wanting our troops to come home alive and well, that I am somehow not supporting them.
So, after Joan Baez gave us a great concert tonight, I got up and I talked about Casey. About the sweet boy who grew up to be a remarkable young man. Casey was not always a brave, big soldier man. He was my sweet, sweet baby once. I told the people at the Camp named after him, that when he was about 2 years old, he would come up behind me and throw his arms around my legs, kiss me on the butt and say: "I wuv you mama." I also talked about the loving big brother and wonderful, nearly perfect son. Casey was a regular guy who wanted to get married, have a family, be an elementary school teacher, and a Deacon in the Catholic Church. He wanted to be a Chaplain's assistant in the Army, but was lied to about that also by his recruiter. The last time I talked to him when he called from Kuwait, he was on his way to mass.
For Casey to even join the Army, let alone being killed in battle was the thing that was most uncharacteristic of him. He was a gentle and kind soul who only wanted to help others. What did his untimely and unnecessary death accomplish? It accomplished reinvigorating a peace movement that was sincere, but not very active...or if active, not well covered by the main stream media.
Joan sang the song Joe Hill In it Joe Hill says: "I never died." Well, looking out at the faces here at Camp Casey, and knowing that for everyone who is present here, there are thousands of others who support our work, I am convinced that Casey never died, and he never will. When I look into the eyes of the kind and gentle souls who have come here, I see Casey and the faces of all the others killed in George Bush's war for greed and profit. We will never forget them and we will honor them by working for peace.
Joan also sang Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.... "A thousand angels waiting there for me...." I know Casey will be waiting for me when it is my turn, and I know when I finally get there he's going to hug me and say: "Good job, Mom."
Cindy Sheehan Returns to Crawford, Confronts President Bush In National Television Ad
GOLD STAR FAMILIES FOR PEACE
Spot Features Cindy Sheehan Directly Addressing Bush With Numerous Questions on the Iraq War
“How many American lives must be lost to justify your war?”
Crawford, TX— Cindy Sheehan, whose son, Pvt. Casey Sheehan was killed in Iraq last year, has resumed her vigil in Crawford, and Gold Star Families for Peace announced that their television ad would go to a national cable audience beginning today.
The ad features Sheehan asking the President, “ . . .how many American lives must be lost to justify this war?” Over the past three weeks, Sheehan has been joined by numerous other mothers and family members who have lost loved ones in the Iraq war, at Camp Casey, just outside the President’s Texas ranch.
The ad, paid for by Gold Star Families for Peace, will begin to air on CNN and Fox News nationwide, with an initial buy of $67,000.
The ad has been running in the Waco, TX, market covering Crawford, and also aired during the President’s visits this week to Salt Lake City and Boise. The group of military families will continue to demand a meeting with the vacationing President at his ranch in Texas, and wherever he travels.
Later today, Sheehan and other Gold Star Family for Peace members will receive Casey Sheehan’s combat boots, delivered to Crawford as part of the American Friends Service Committee’s traveling exhibit, “Eyes Wide Open: The Human Cost of War,” a traveling exhibition of combat boots representing soldiers killed in the Iraq conflict. The boots, which Sheehan had donated for the exhibit, were removed from its current display in Philadelphia.
Sheehan says they put the TV ad together because the airwaves seemed to be the only alternative. “This ad is just another attempt to reach President Bush,” Sheehan said. “All I wanted was an hour out of his lengthy vacation to meet with me and other military moms who disagree with his policies. We just want honest answers.” The president did meet with hand-picked military family members of fallen soldiers in Idaho yesterday, but he continues to refuse to address his critics, who have also lost their children in Iraq.
Celeste Zappala of Pennsylvania, a co-founder of Gold Star Families who lost her son ,Sgt. Sherwood Baker, in Iraq, has re-joined Sheehan in Crawford. "When we buried my son, I vowed to him I would tell the truth. This war is a betrayal of our military and of the democracy they seek to protect. I am here to uphold the honor and memory of my son, Sgt. Sherwood Baker, and insist that place accountability for this conflict where it belongs and bring the troops home now.”
“I want answers, just like any mother whose lost her child for a reason that can’t be explained,” said Jean Prewitt of Birmingham, AL, who also has come to Crawford and who lost her son, Private Kelly Prewitt, in the first weeks of the war. “I fully support the other families who want the truth from our President.”
Gold Star Families for Peace is a coalition of military families whose loved ones have died in war. The families plan to stay in Crawford until the President meets with them and to follow him to Washington once his five weeks of vacation are over. For further information, go to http://www.gsfp.org/
Gold Star Families for Peace
Cindy Sheehan speaking to President Bush
Mr. President, My name is Cindy Sheehan. On April 24, 2004 my son was killed in Iraq.
He was only 24 and he died in his best friend’s arms. Casey was so good and so honest-- why can’t you be honest with us?
You were wrong about the weapons of mass destruction-you were wrong about the link between Iraq and Al Queda—you lied to us and because of your lies my son died.
Mr. President I want to tell you face to face how much this hurts. I love my country, but how many more of our loved ones need to die in this senseless war? How many more soldiers have to die before we say enough?