The bodies are piling
"More fighting and sacrifice will be required to achieve this
victory, and for some, the temptation to retreat and abandon our
commitments is strong." -- George Bush, Radio Address, March 18,
By Cindy Sheehan
-- -- On March 19, 2003, George Bush "shocked and
awed" the world by his premature, if not wholly, unnecessary
invasion of Iraq. I can remember that night when he came on to
tell us that he had begun his war crimes against Iraq in
earnest. I was sitting on my couch sobbing for the innocent
people of Iraq and for our children who had been put in harm's
way by their careless commander in chief.
I was also terrified on a personal and primal level for my son,
Casey. As a mother, that terror came from a deep and up to then,
unreachable and unknown place in my soul. I hoped in my head
that the predictions of swift and easy victory by the various
neocon liars would be true, but I knew in my heart that such a
"cake walk" would not be possible.
When George flew onto the deck of the Abraham Lincoln on May
1st, 2003 and declared "mission accomplished" and an end to
major combat in Iraq, I wanted to jump for joy, but I thought
his playing fighter pilot in his special costume and his
posturing pronouncements were premature.
When the 4th Infantry Division from Ft. Hood captured Saddam in
his hidey-hole in December of 2003, I was hoping against hope
that our troops would be coming home soon, since they got the
person who took Osama's place as George's "most wanted" and
again, selfishly prayed that Casey would not have to go over to
the mess for his scheduled deployment in March of 2004.
I saw many people in George's circle telling us that the paths
of our troops would be strewn with flower petals instead of
improvised explosive devises and that chocolates, not bullets,
would be tossed at them. No amount of praying, hoping, or
kidding myself stopped the invasion from happening, or brought a
swift conclusion to the war. Right around the 1st anniversary of
the invasion, Casey and the 1st Cavalry left for Iraq. After
Casey had been there for 5 days, he and 7 other soldiers were
killed on 04/04/04 in an ambush in Sadr City by the Mahdi forces
loyal to Moqtada al Sadr.
Shortly after Casey was killed, power was transferred from
Bremer to a puppet government and Bremer skulked out of Iraq in
the middle of the night with 8.8 billion dollars missing from
the Coalition Provisional Authority. Bremer came home to a
Presidential Medal of Freedom and Casey came home in a cardboard
box and we picked him up from SFO at the United Airlines loading
dock the day before Easter that year. Casey was also awarded
medals that were pinned on the uniform that covered his
George Bush said today that the war was going to take more
fighting and more sacrifice. I want to know who is fighting? I
want to know if the members of the executive and legislative
branches that are so willing to leave our troops in the middle
of sectarian violence and a militarily undefeatable resistance
are willing to send their children and other of their relatives
over to the dessert to take the place of the at least 72% of
soldiers who want to come home? Are they willing to go over
there themselves to fight? George Bush didn't finish his
commitment to the country when he went AWOL from the Alabama
National Guard, why hasn't he been called back up to go and
fight and die in his own "noble cause?" I have heard of other
men and women his age who have been called back up. This is not
our children's fight. As in all war, the only people who benefit
are the war profiteers.
I would also like to know who is sacrificing in this country
besides the soldiers and their families? Where are the shared
sacrifices of the past? There was a USA Today poll recently
which said that at least 50% of our population has "cried"
because of the war and so many more have put magnets on their
cars. I wonder how many of our citizens wake up everyday with
broken hearts and holes in their lives that can never be filled?
I wonder how many wake up missing arms, legs, or both? I wonder
how many can't sleep because they are afraid of the nightmares
that haunt even their waking hours? George Bush is sacrificing
squat and it is easy for him to keep the people of Iraq and our
troops in harm's way because it costs him absolutely nothing.
In one of George's canned speeches to another hand-picked
audience (who obviously were not wearing t-shirts with his own
tragic number of war dead on them), he assured another poor,
unfortunate Gold Star Mother, that he would make sure her son
didn't die in "vain." He is still insisting on killing more
people because he has already killed so many. I realized a hard
fact of life shortly after Casey was killed. He died in vain. He
and so many more of his buddies would be alive if their
commander in chief and the war machine weren't so greedy,
heartless and incompetent.
As the country of Iraq disintegrates more everyday, and we know
that the bodies are piling up in the morgues faster than they
can be buried, it is time to honor the sacrifices of our young
people who were misused, ill-used and killed in Iraq by bringing
their still living buddies home immediately. The Iraqi people
know that the violence won't stop until the occupiers leave. The
insurgency cannot go on without targets. It is time to realize
that no matter how hard the Pentagon works at its propaganda
machine, terrorism cannot be stopped by killing innocent people.
Terrorism can only be stopped by analyzing what is causing the
terrorism and changing behavior accordingly.
Buddhists say that everyone dies twice. Once when his/her body
dies and once when the last person who remember him/her dies. I
want Casey and his buddies to live forever. I want the memories
of our children who have been tragically killed in this war to
be honored by remembering them as the last casualties of the
military industrial complex not as pawns used in an evil game of
corporate greed run amok and governmental corruption and
cold-heartedness gone unchecked.
Finally, today George said that the temptation to abandon "our"
commitments is strong. Did he have a mouse in his pocket? I
never made a commitment to preemptive war. I didn't authorize
Congress to abrogate their responsibilities to declare war. I
didn't give the orders to invade a country that was absolutely
no threat to the USA. I also didn't give the orders to use
depleted uranium and wmd in Iraq. I wasn't the one who devoted
myself to torture and imprisoning people without due process. I
didn't lie to the world about the reasons for the invasion. I
have no commitments to honor in Iraq but I believe George's
commitments are criminal and they should be abandoned as swiftly
as humanly possible.
I am not a war criminal: Most of us are not. These are not my
commitments. It is time for all of us who don't want to be
linked or identified with the criminal cabal in DC to stand up
loudly and repudiate the behavior of the ones who would lead the
world to disaster. It is time to declare stridently that these
crimes against humanity are not being done in our names, or with
our consent or approval.
Instead of a 4th anniversary of shock and awe next year, we need
to strive together everyday to bring our troops home and turn
our mourning into celebration and our depression into joy.
Honor the dead. Protect the living. End the war.
Sheehan is the mother of Spc. Casey Austin Sheehan who was
killed in Iraq on April 04, 2004; Founder and President of Gold
Star Families for Peace (
www.GSFP.org ) and author of Not One More Mother's Child.
Cindy is also the very proud mother of Carly, Andy, and Janey
Sheehan who hold down the fort in Vacaville, California.