Monday, August 08, 2005

No Vacation For Cindy Sheehan

The word "hero" gets tossed around a lot these days and too often it's an exaggeration that limits the usefulness of the praise.

Cindy Sheehan is my hero, and watching her move through her days never fails to leave me inspired.

Sheehan, the president of Gold Star Families for Peace, lost her 24-year-old son, Casey, in Iraq and has become a national figure in criticizing the Bush administration for the war. She was in Crawford, Texas on Saturday leading a protest near President Bush's ranch and demanding an accounting from the president of how he has conducted the war in Iraq.

She arrived at the president's ranch aboard a bus bearing the words "Impeachment Tour," and said to reporters, "I want to ask George Bush: Why did my son die?"

Sheehan, 48, came to Crawford after Bush said that fallen U.S. troops had died for a noble cause and that the mission must be completed.

"I want to ask the president, `Why did you kill my son? What did my son die for?'" she said, her voice cracking with emotion. "Last week, he said my son died for a 'noble cause' and I want to ask him what that noble cause is. I don't want him to use my son's name or my family name to justify any more killing."

"I don't want him using my son's honorable sacrifice to continue his murderous killing policies," Sheehan said.

Cindy Sheehan does a lot of this and she is amazingly courageous. I cannot imagine the pain she must feel every day, but she does a heartbreakingly good job describing it. She made these comments in June when President Bush described the "hard work" of comforting the families of those killed in Iraq.

"Hard work is seeing your son's murder on CNN one Sunday evening while you're enjoying the last supper you'll ever truly enjoy again. Hard work is having three military officers come to your house a few hours later to confirm the aforementioned murder of your son, your first-born, your kind and gentle sweet baby. Hard work is burying your child 46 days before his 25th birthday. Hard work is holding your other three children as they lower the body of their big (brother) into the ground. Hard work is not jumping in the grave with him and having the earth cover you both," she said.

Yet Cindy Sheehan gets up every day, when many would simply hole up with their grief and she continues to push for truth from an administration more accustomed to lies. She punches through the sorrow she must carry, refuses to be a victim and will not rest until her voice is heard.

She says she will continue to camp out and maintain her protest along the road during Bush's lengthy Crawford vacation.

"If he doesn't come out and talk to me in Crawford, I'll follow him to D.C.,'' she said. "I'll camp on his lawn in D.C. until he has the courtesy and the integrity and the compassion to talk to somebody whose life he has ruined."

In addition to our sympathy, she deserves our support – and an extraordinary amount of admiration.

Cindy Sheehan, center, listens to Capt. Ken Vanek of the McLennan County (Texas) Sheriff's Office, left, as he discusses the procedures for a peace protest by Sheehan and others to confront President Bush at his ranch, in Crawford, Texas., Saturday, Aug. 6, 2005. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)