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The bodies are piling up

"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, 2006

By Cindy Sheehan

03/20/06 "
ICH" -- -- 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 breath-less chest.

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.

Cindy 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.

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