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Related Categories: East Bay | Anti-War
Mother against war in dead's son birthday
by David Pastor (Dpastorcid [at] aol.com)
Friday May 27th, 2005 10:25 PM
Cindy Sheehan lost her son in Iraq, Sunday, in the 26th aniversary of his first son Casey, she will talk in Berkeley against war.
By David Pastor May, 26, 2005

As Cindy Sheehan is interviewed by Univision’s reporter Xochitl Arellano, Army Spc. Casey Sheehan name is read aloud at Sacramento's Trinity Episcopal Cathedral. When she hears her son's name Cindy Sheehan is overcome by emotion. Her hand covers her mouth, her eyes close in grief as her head turns down towards her son’s very own boots, she stops talking to Arellano.

Sheehan, 47 from Vacaville, and the reporter are kneeling down amid 171 empty boots representing the armed services personnel from California killed in the Iraq war. California is the state with most casualties in Iraq.

The rank, name, and birth state of the 1, 529 US service men and women killed continues to be read as part of the Eyes Wide Open exhibition. The names are read one by one along the names of the identified killed Iraqis. The process will last for hours.

After pausing for a few seconds Sheehan continues the interview, one of the very many she has given since a year ago her oldest son Casey was killed in Iraq.

This image of Sheehan unfortunately has become a familiar one for many of you. You might have seeing her at Good Morning America in inauguration day, you could have seen her watery eyes in a picture at the San Francisco Chronicle, or in the front cover of The Nation magazine, or perhaps you have seen her addressing the President on her election time TV ad for Moveon.org.

Arellano commented on the impression Sheehan caused on her. At first she didn’t know why, at the middle of the interview, she suddenly stopped talking, fighting tears. But then Sheehan explained her that her son’s name had just been read. Arellano said that she was emotionally moved when Casey Sheehan’s mother told her, “wars will stop when women are in power.”

Approaching the first anniversary of Casey’s death on April 4th 2004, Sheehan joined the traveling exhibit. Eyes Wide Open is both a public tribute to the American military personnel killed in Iraq as well as an exhibition on the human costs of the Iraq war.

The exhibit started January 2004 in Chicago with 504 boots representing US military casualties. When the boots reached Sacramento on March 29 this year the number was 1,529.

Cindy Sheehan has also been traveling since late Spring last year. She has joined the exhibit in around the 10 occasions, when her other activism and public commitments allowed her. When the exhibit was in Northern California she had the opportunity of staying at home for about a week, the most that she has spend there for the last months. She had so many public engagement that she even lost her job due to her activism. She said about the reason why she speaks out. “To make sense of his death I have to try to stop the war.”

Sheehan thinks that there is a lack of understanding of the effects of war, and that the country “doesn’t know that is at war.” Even thought she was at Good Morning America in Bush Administration’s inauguration day last January, she complains about the lack of serious coverage of the Iraq war. She wrote in a letter to the editor, “I was supposed to be on the Larry King Live show last week. I was asked to be on the show to offer my opinion on the election in Iraq from the perspective of a mom whose son was killed in the war prior to the elections. One of the questions I was going to be asked was: Do I think my son's sacrifice was "worth it?" Well, I didn't get a chance to be on the show, because I was bumped for something that is really important: The Michael Jackson Trial.”

Looking for that missing coverage, and to extend her plight and that of those other mothers losing their sons in the war, she has started a support organization called Gold Star Families for Peace - in reference to the Gold Stars awarded for the killed in action. The organization, that has more than 70 military families as members, is a resource center for the military and their families.

Sheehan has seen the local support for her family decline since she started being active against the war. She said that even though a couple of hundred people attended her sons funeral now their friends don’t even call them. She also has seen opposition to her cause in local newspapers editorials and letters to the editor. So she decided to honor Casey in Santa Barbara in a ceremony held at the Arlington West memorial Sunday April the 3rd. A ceremony at the beach crosses memorial put together by Veterans for Peace every Sunday remembered the 12 US soldiers killed on that day last year.

After the ceremony Sheehan left for New York to celebrate along the family of Martin Luther King III at the Riverside Church. Casey’s first death anniversary is also the 37th anniversary of the death of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He was killed on April 4th, 1968. A year earlier he had delivered his "Beyond Vietnam" speech in the very same church. This time was Sheehan turn to address the audience talking about another war with the same controversial feel all over again.

Patrick Sheehan, Cindy Sheehan husband, supports his wife in her activism, he participates in some events and drives with Cindy when he is not working as a sales representative. He spoke about the toll this work is taking in the family. “If she is not away traveling or speaking, she is home with her laptop, watching news, or talking on the phone…This is important, we try to continue to support her.”

But he also understands that it is hard for her to be around the memories all the time. “Some times I am not sure if it is helping [the grief process] It might be delaying some of her grief, but it’s also a very good reason to get out of bed, get up and get moving.”

During the rest of April and May Sheehan continued to travel, speaking in Idaho, Oregon, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Washington, San Diego and Los Angeles. She is planning to continue her effort as long as the war goes on. She said. “One of the reasons I started is so Casey will never be forgotten. To put a face on the dead.” She things that in a way, “Casey is continuing his work here, in earth, among our family.”

Today she is back home but she hasn’t stop working. This Sunday at 6 pm she will be at the King Middle School, 1781 Rose St. in Berkeley, at a function under the title “Military Voices Against Endless War.” Her organization, Gold Star Families for Peace along with Not in Our Name and Iraq Veterans Against the War will host the evening of presentations, speeches and music.

Once again Cindy Sheehan will surely fight back tears as she talks about her son and the war. This Sunday will be a very special day for her, a day no mother can ever forget. The day she saw her first son’s face for the first time.

This is the very same day when 26 years ago Casey Sheehan took his first breath of air, starting the life Cindy had given him, one year ago last month he would take his last breath in Iraq.

You can find more information about Gold Star Families for Peace and Cindy and Casey Sheehan at http://www.GSFP.org
LATEST COMMENTS ABOUT THIS ARTICLE
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Thank you IndybayTWFriday Nov 25th, 2005 7:18 PM
march on washingtonvotestoleyThursday Sep 8th, 2005 8:31 PM
Here ya go.Hey Chesea? Read much?Tuesday Aug 30th, 2005 9:12 AM
BrainwashedRonald McAndrew --another nut-jobTuesday Aug 23rd, 2005 9:20 AM
What an idiotJimmy Hall--Brainwashed..LOL!Sunday Aug 21st, 2005 7:24 PM
That's okay, LVEgo right aheadThursday Aug 18th, 2005 9:08 PM
Liberate yourselfto LVE-you're brainwashedThursday Aug 18th, 2005 1:39 PM
Wrecking her familyLVEThursday Aug 18th, 2005 12:06 PM
thoughtsJBTuesday Aug 16th, 2005 7:09 AM
links aboveC.R.Lavigne needs to readMonday Aug 15th, 2005 5:30 PM

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