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In Pushing for Peace Movement, it Takes a Mother
by Billie Stanton
Published on Tuesday, August 23, 2005 by the Tuscon Citizen (Arizona)
as posted on Common Dreams
The Vietnam War - and its vivid televised carnage - spurred large-scale, repeated protests, primarily by young people terrified of the draft and horrified by the slaughter of a senseless war.
The revolution was upon us. And the Powers That Be finally ended the war - too late for more than 58,000 dead members of the U.S. military.
The war in Iraq, which has nothing to do with terrorism and everything to do with hubris and stupidity, prompted even my father - a proud veteran of World War II - to question the dearth of protest.
Why weren't today's youth taking to the streets? And if they're too worthless, he asked, why wasn't my generation raising Cain?
Ah, but we baby boomers are old and tired and busy, too. We're working and raising children and trying to get a little sleep now and then.
We're not the gutsy kids of yesteryear. And the civilian kids of today have yet to demonstrate an abundance of guts.
The military ones do, though. All those young people enlisting to serve our country, despite this asinine conflict, have got more guts than an Army mule.
So even though we don't (yet) face a draft, and we lack the sickening film footage of war, we mourn every addition to the death toll of these brave, young Americans.
But the pathetic truth is: We won't bother to do anything about it. In a metropolitan area of more than 840,000 people, a few hundred Tucsonans show up for peace vigils.
No one foresaw what would kick-start us out of our complacency. But in hindsight, we should have known.
It takes a mother.
Far too many mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers - and children, too - have lost loved ones in Iraq. They have been paralyzed by grief.
Cindy Sheehan will mourn her son's death for the rest of her life, as would any parent.
But somehow her rage over the senselessness of it all has surmounted her grief sufficiently to propel her into action.
Army Spc. Casey Sheehan, 24, was killed April 4, 2004, in Sadr City, Baghdad.
Attackers unleashed rocket-propelled grenades and small-arms fire on his unit - Battery C, 1st Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division.
His mother wants President Bush to try to explain for what noble cause Casey died.
While maintaining vigil outside Bush's Crawford, Texas, ranch last week with hundreds of supporters, Sheehan learned that her 74-year-old mother had suffered a stroke. She rushed to her mother's side.
Although reporters made much of the fact that her husband filed for divorce last week, Sheehan says that wasn't news; they had been discussing it for weeks, and she knew he would be filing.
But while enduring enormous personal trauma - the death of a son, divorce and now a stricken mother - Sheehan remains a powerful symbol.
Indeed, her quest for answers about this war is so potent that the right wing has come unglued - hammering her as "un-American" and "a traitor."
"It isn't about politics for us," Sheehan wrote Aug. 15 on www.truthout.org.
"No one asked Casey what political affiliation he was before they sent him off to die in Iraq and no one asked us who we voted for in 2000 before we were handed a folded flag from Casey's flag-draped coffin."
Sheehan is not alone. Many military mothers, including some who also have lost children in Iraq, have come to Crawford, too.
The long-overdue anti-war movement finally has commenced in America, thanks to a mother.
Bush, meanwhile, "seems determined to enjoy his monthlong holiday," The Times of London reported Friday.
"He has been spending his time fly-fishing and using his chainsaw. Tomorrow, Lance Armstrong, the Texan winner of seven Tour de France races, is coming over for a mountain bike ride. Mr. Bush is also catching up on his history, reading books on Tsar Alexander II, the influenza epidemic of 1919 and salt."
Something about salt in the wounds seems apropos here, but I can't quite craft it. I am struck too hard by the gulf between the compassionate and the cavalier.
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