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Seeing Cindy


By David Potorti

As a member of September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, I¹ve been witnessing Cindy Sheehan¹s Crawford odyssey with a bittersweet mixture of pride, support and sadness. I felt the same way when Megan Bartlett, one of the first EMT workers to arrive at the World Trade Center site, founded Ground Zero For Peace/First Responders Against War; as military parents Nancy Lessin and Charley Richardson founded Military Families Speak Out; as the 9/11 widows known as the "Jersey Girls" dragged their government, kicking and screaming, into conducting an independent commission into the 9/11 attacks; and as Michael Hoffman, Kelly Dougherty, Jimmy Massey and others came together to create Iraq Veterans Against the War.

Ordinary Americans with first-hand knowledge of the results of terrorism, violence and war were bearing witness and asking to be heard.

I felt pride at their personal courage, support for their desire to spare others the horrors they had experienced, and sadness at the inevitable response they would draw from the government and its corporate media: Ignore them. They¹re small in number. They¹re not authentic. It¹s all about politics. They¹re funded by the Democrats. They¹re traitors. They¹re an invention of the media. They have a personal axe to grind. They don¹t know what they¹re talking about.

Every argument raised about Cindy Sheehan has been raised about us, and about the rest, each argument reflecting the same goal: to dehumanize us. Faced with the dissonant reality that 9/11 families might not support the bombing of Afghanistan, or military families might not support the war in Iraq, or that there¹s people with a few more questions for the 9/11 Commission, our reality‹our actual existence‹has to be denied. One radio pundit has claimed that we "aren¹t even 9/11 family members."

Denial and dehumanization are required elements of terrorism, violence and war. The humanity of our families was invisible to the people who murdered them on September 11th. The humanity of Afghan civilians, already suffering, was invisible to the Americans who supported the bombing of their country. The humanity of Iraqi civilians, already suffering, was invisible to the Americans whipped into war on a series of calculated lies. The humanity of the troops and reservists doing hard time in Iraq is invisible to the people sending them there. And the humanity of those troops killed or maimed for the rest of their lives remains largely invisible to the American people.

To stand up in the midst of this denial and demand that our humanity, and the humanity of others, be recognized, is not just a patriotic act of a high order. It¹s a way of reclaiming the life that was taken away from us. To respond that our demands are inauthentic, insincere, an "invention" --in short, not real‹dehumanizes us in the same way that terrorism, violence and war dehumanizes us all.

Even after he has shared his "sympathy," many continue to ask the President to see Cindy. The fact is, he doesn¹t have to see Cindy in Crawford. He can see Cindy in the brave numbers of Americans with first hand knowledge of the war on terror as they stand up to bear witness to what they, and we, have lost. He can see Cindy in the growing majority of Americans who see war for what it really is, and want the troops home. And he can see Cindy in the mutual humanity, sense of common purpose and worldwide desire for peace that revealed itself to the United States immediately after 9/11‹and remains, today, our best hope of survival.

Long after his Crawford vacation is over, we¹ll still be there---demanding to be seen.

David Potorti is the Co-Director of September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows

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Yes...My brother was disbled in 1974 serving in the military... Finally, I don't feel like I have to be invisible anymore. Not only are we to be invisible and not make the elitists uncomfortable, we are to be silent and spout the proud to serve line... Yes, everyone is proud to serve their country...it is the policies of the political elite that are to be questioned. That is the silence they want...that is the loyalty they want. My brother will vouch for the pride of being in the service...the friends and the experience. It is the when we are done with you and you can't work stay invisible, wait in long lines at the VA, wait for class action suits to get the benefits promised after 20 years... but remain silent.

Our government policies are not serving us...and that is the crime not the loyal service of the men and women in uniform or retired. After listening to the power elite and the elite media who never seem to have to sacrifice a thing for 30 years and hanging my head low...because of the personal cost in money and labor my family has had to bare because we are to be silent... quietly enduring the disgust if I dare speak against agressive policies or the high cost of the military/industrial complex. The media finding enemies everywhere to fight. The leaders of other countries that need to be removed...the demonizing of the other nations that are not co-operating with our elite. So, when they want to stike the populace has been conditioned to respond with willing aggression. It is hard to know, if the militancy started with Osama or us. It started here after the Gulf War...

I finally am feeling a hope in the air...Cindy has made the stand for all of us...along with the Families for Peaceful Tomorrows.

Our government policys are hurting us...the citizens. War only hurts your own citizens.

The power elite have had their day of draining us with their policys of harm for us and others... Instead of having to alone and quietly live with the aggressive policies...we are speaking out in a group...

To quote my brother: As a soldier, you don't know the politics of the guy, they call your enmemy...he is probably as apolitical as you. You are sent to do a job and hope the policy makers are correct. But you know a lot of us really don't like killing....

I know, I am considered a leftist for my views...but peace is a value.
How can we possibly justify the destruction of an entire nation and the killing of innocents, just to remove Saddam Hussein?

We can't...the shock and awe was to send a message to other countries that they could be next? The world has responded with insurgencies and alliances of other major powers against us. This whole adventure is a disaster...and one day when the fog of the media is lifted maybe Americans will see the truth.

Cindy is showing the pain for the whole world to see...the pain is suppose to be private not public. You are to be invisible. You are to be silent. No questions. Don't show the dark side of our beliefs.
We are at a crossroads for a national debate ... let us keep up the pressure. Thanks to you guys, I can speak out without fear of being dismissed as unpatriotic. Thank you, we are no longer alone.

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