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I got to meet Cindy Sheehan yesterday
by Oregon guy at Daily Kos
Sat Aug 13th, 2005 at 12:11:52 PDT
Hi. I used to post here quite a lot, and some of you might remember me (I joined the Army last year).
Anyway, I'm one of the soldiers from Fort Hood who went to visit Cindy Sheehan yesterday. Basically I was moved enough by what she is doing that I wrote her a letter and determined that I would hand-deliver it to her yesterday (it was a training holiday here at Fort Hood).
When I got to the encampment, some people from the Crawford Peace House spoke to me and insisted that my wife and I stick around to be introduced to Mrs. Sheehan.
So we did, and she was a very sweet, kind person who is softspoken and clearly feels very deeply. I knew that nothing I could say could make her feel better about her son, but I was able to thank her for helping ME by way of her actions.
One other note. There were a lot of folks there from Austin and other points around the globe and the nation. That is great. Soldidarity is a very good thing. But there is a tendency when something like this starts to happen where people want to push their particular agendas (agendae?).
In my opinion if you are coming to visit Camp Casey and you want to talk about the Supreme Court, or gay marriage, or the illegitimacy of the current President, you have the wrong idea. It also plays right into the hands of media outlets wanting to portray Mrs. Sheehan as a mere tool of the left.
I know Mrs. Sheehan has never made any bones about being anything other than an activist from Gold Star Mothers for Peace. In a very meaningful way, she is part of the existing progressive coalition. But we gotta stay on message, folks.
But anyway, I wanted to share with you folks the letter I gave to Mrs. Sheehan. I've excised things which may identify me. I'd like to remain just one of four soldiers at Fort Hood who visited her - my life could be made very difficult if my name were to get out, and I am leaving for the sandbox very soon.
Anyway, the group was extremely welcoming of myself and my wife, and I was able to sit next to Mrs. Sheehan for about a half hour over a beer, discussing all kinds of things.
She is a very warm and genuine person who does not pretend to be anything. She has been very up front about her views, where she comes from, and why she is doing what she is doing.
She made me very proud and she also made me promise I would come back to Camp Casey before I go to Iraq. I will, too.
Here is the letter I wrote to her (slightly modified to preserve my anonymity):
Fort Hood, Texas
12 August 2005
Dear Mrs. Sheehan:
I am a Soldier stationed at Fort Hood who is scheduled for deployment to Iraq (soon). Like you, I do not support the war because I believe it represents a horrible waste of lives and lucre that is bankrupting our nation. However, I am sworn to obey my orders and I will serve to the utmost of my ability when called upon.
Your actions in Crawford have served to galvanize the American people and to remind them of the sacrifices being made by its Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines during what seem to be prosperous and lazy times here at home. It is too easy for the average American to forget that the seemingly low casualty figures seeping in from Southwest Asia are represented by human faces - like the face of your son. While the nation dozes, ones and twos turn into hundreds and thousands of young lives forever squelched - 1,846 thus far, to say nothing of those whose lives have also been forever changed by being wounded and maimed in the conflict.
Whatever the rationale for the war in Iraq was and is, I cannot tolerate the sight of the huge quantum of vehicles I see on the highways with yellow "Support our Troops" magnets on them. Citizens who support us in the military don't need to buy a magnet. They can contribute to causes benefiting soldiers and their families. They can inform themselves about the conflict in the Middle East and ask themselves what role, if any, the United States needs to play there. Most importantly, they can drive less, and drive smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles. That would reduce our dependency on foreign oil by which, ultimately, the desert wastes of Arabia and Mesopotamia are transformed into "vital United States interests."
Lately you have attracted the attention of the right-wing smear machine, wielded by those who use the people's innate sense of patriotism and loyalty to serve its own selfish interests. This is a sign that you are awakening the sensibilities of decent Americans everywhere to the bloody-minded folly of the war in Iraq. Now more than ever, you must find your strength, a strength which you must have given young Casey in spades, and I am equally sure that today his strength of his spirit is animating and reawakening yours.
As a soldier, I am asking you to stand fast, and to stick to what you know is right and true. For me, those are the principal duties every civilian citizen owes to his or her nation. For my part, I am not allowed to participate directly in the political process. But I wrote this letter to you today to let you know that on Fort Hood, and on military installations across the United States and around the world, there are simple servicemen and servicewomen like myself who are praying for you, and who wish you well.
The duties of a soldier are a little bit different than those of civilians. Mostly they center around living the Army Values. Those values are:
I have no doubts that your son Casey lived those values to the fullest measure. I will remember him as I begin my own trial by fire in Iraq. Please accept my deepest condolences for your loss and my prayers for you and all of your entire family circle. Also, please accept my thanks for awakening the conscience of our nation.
In deepest sympathy,