President Bush Ditches Mother Of Slain Soldier
By Nathan Diebenow
CRAWFORD — The mother of a U.S. soldier slain in Iraq was denied a face-to-face meeting with President Bush here Saturday after she walked through a ditch-like path in the August heat to the President’s Prairie Chapel Ranch.
“I didn’t come all this way from California to stand here in a ditch,” said Cindy Sheehan, 48, co-founder of Gold Star Families for Peace, attempting to continue her trek to the ranch.
Even though two of the President’s aides later agreed to deliver her message to him, Sheehan said that she would remain in Crawford for the whole month, if need be, until she is granted a private audience with the commander-in-chief to ask him for what “noble cause” did her son die overseas.
“If he doesn’t come out to talk to me in Crawford, I’ll follow him to D.C., and I’ll camp out on his lawn,” she said, to a round of applause from her supporters. “I’ll go to prison. I don’t want to live in a country where people are treated this way.”
Sheehan’s actions, she said, were sparked by President Bush’s comments like those made last Wednesday in Grapevine to about 1,800 members of the American Legislative Exchange Council: “Our men and women who’ve lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan and in this war on terror have died in a noble cause and a selfless cause.”
“We all know by now that that’s not true, and I want to ask George Bush, ‘Why did my son die? What was the noble cause that he died for?’” said Sheehan. “I don’t want [President Bush] to use my son’s name or my family name to justify any more killing or to exploit my son’s name, my son’s sacrifice, or my son’s honor to justify more killing. As a mother, why would I want one more mother to go through what I’m going through, Iraqi or American?
“And I want to tell him that the only way to honor my son’s sacrifice is to bring the troops home now.”
Her son, Casey Sheehan, 24, of Vacaville, Calif., died in Baghdad, Iraq, on April 4, 2004, when his unit was attacked with rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fire. He was assigned to 1st Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.
Bush’s comments Wednesday coincided with the deaths of 12 Marine reservists from Ohio who were killed in perhaps the deadliest roadside bombing of U.S. troops in Iraq. So far, the lives of about 1,821 Americans in uniform have been taken since the 2003 invasion. Pollsters indicate that Bush’s approval ratings are declining in relation to the rise in U.S. casualties in Iraq.
Sheehan, joining anti-war activists at the Crawford Peace House, arrived with a busload of veterans from the Veterans for Peace convention which was held in Irving, near Dallas, since Thursday. The total group of activists there numbered over 50 and included members of Veteran’s for Peace (VFP), Military Families Speak Out (MFSO), Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), CodePink, and the Crawford Peace House.
Vietnam veteran Jim Waters, not affliated with any activist group, said that he drove overnight from Lubbock alone in support of Sheehan and the Gold Star Families for Peace because he is “very concerned” about the war in Iraq and wants to ask President Bush, “Why aren’t his daughters there?”
“One of the principles of leadership is you don’t ask people to do what you yourself don’t have the courage to do, and [President Bush] is asking people to fight to their deaths when he himself and most of the architects of this war never served,” said Waters, a retired Navy commander and former hospital administrator. “[President Bush] served, but he jumped over 10,000 people to get into the National Guard Champagne Unit, so he could avoid duty in Vietnam. I had to go to Vietnam, and now he’s sending them to their deaths — over 1,800 so far.
“I’m sick and tired of what’s happening to our country,” he continued. “To me it’s almost like the White House operation is a mob operation. These guys are scary, and they’re dangerous, in my opinion.”
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