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Why I Was Smiling and Hurricane Rita

By Cindy Sheehan

I had a huge grin on my face when I was getting arrested yesterday. I have received a lot of flak for smiling. Apparently I am not supposed to smile, but I had some really good reasons for doing so.

First of all, I was having fun. I was with a group of good-humored, cheerful, happy people. We were singing old protest songs and old Sunday school songs and clapping. I felt I had to be cheerful to set the tone. We didn't want any trouble or to do anything non-peaceful. Secondly, when I got arrested and the officers lifted me out I was afraid that America would see my underwear and that tickled me.

There is another and more important reason that I was smiling. I had not genuinely smiled since Casey was killed in Iraq. I thought my hope was buried along with my son and I was in a pit of hopeless despair. Camp Casey gave me back my hope because America came out in huge numbers to support us and they raised their voices with ours in unison to take our country back and to hold this administration accountable for the lies and mistakes that are killing tens of thousands of innocent people. There were hundreds of thousands of regular Americans who came out to protest the war and Bush's policies this past Saturday. Hundreds of faithful Americans turned out for our interfaith religious service Sunday night next to the Washington Monument. The so-called religious right doesn't have a monopoly on God. I am so pleased that the people of America are becoming active participants in Democracy and America is ready to put their money where their collective mouths are: to bring our troops home and hold BushCo accountable. It is a wonderful thing to be doing something that makes a difference and it is a wonderful and miraculous thing to have my hope back. That is why I am smiling.

Now about Hurricane Rita: I woke up on Saturday morning filled with excitement. I knew that the rally and march were going to be amazing events and I was thrilled to be a part of them. I switched on the TV and turned on CNN and for 2 hours, I watched one of their reporters in front of the same downed tree and it wasn't even raining. I knew that there was a hurricane and it was damaging. At the point of the news cycle though, I thought CNN could be covering other news. 40 soldiers have been killed this month so far in Iraq and countless Iraqis have been killed. The war is still going on and the news has been dominated by hurricanes and the terrible aftermaths. I actually think the mainstream media has been doing a good job of pointing out the dropped balls in the Gulf States. However, CNN and other mainstream news outlets ALWAYS report other news besides the illegal occupation of Iraq.

When we had hundreds of thousands of people turn out for protests all over the nation on March 19th, the 2 nd anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, the Terry Schiavo fiasco was occurring. The Schiavo tragedy was bad for one family and I was in agony for them, but I found it hypocritical that Congress would rush into a special session to save one person's lives when so many were being needlessly killed in Iraq partly because Congress abrogated their Constitutional responsibilities to declare war. I was also disappointed that that tragedy superseded the protest coverage. Wolf Blitzer called our protests: Insignificant.

Saturday was the most important event in peace history in decades. The numbers were underreported and the wonderful energy was unreported by the mainstream media. With the MSM there will always be something more important than covering the atrocity of Iraq: Michael Jackson, Scott Peterson, Terry Schiavo, The Runaway Bride, etc. It is time we hold our media accountable, too. Balanced coverage of all issues and some investigative reporting would be extremely refreshing.

I am sorry for what seemed to be an insensitive remark about the people who were affected by Rita, but that was not my intention. I am very aware that the failed policies of the Bush administration have all put us in the same boat, so to speak, and we need to take responsibility for righting the wrongs here in our country and in Iraq.

I don't think I can be challenged for my analysis of the war and for what I say because it is all the truth and comes from my heart, so I have to be attacked for smiling. I won't apologize for smiling, though, we are making a difference and that is definitely something to smile about!

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This is coming from a mom. And a mom who has recently lost a child.

I'm also a nurse~I know what human suffering. I have a better idea than you what many of the people in the gulf coast are going thru. Right now there is a grandmother is trying to find her grandaughter. Even though it's been a month since Katrina hit. I have friends down there who have left behind homes, jobs, families, their lives to try to get these people back on their feet.

Your comment was thoughtless... insensitive. perhaps it wasn't meant to be. But you've belittled something that has destroyed the lives of hundreds of thousands. There's a town in Louisiana, Houma... it was left almost untouched by Katrina. Lots of wind damage. It was a refugee center for thousands of Katrina refugees. And now even the people who lived there had to run for their lives because of the flooding.

Their lives, like yours, will never be the same. Mississippi will never the same. Louisiana will never be the same. Homes that have stood for 200 years are gone. Towns are completely wiped off the map. Entire chunks of American history are gone. We have lost a piece of ourselves as Americans~hundreds of men, women and children are dead. Thousands more are still missing. The clean up that was slowly progressing from Katrina is now set back because of Rita.

And you continue and you smile because you think you are making a difference.

I'd like to offer some advice on how to make a positive difference and maybe undo some of the damage to your image that you have done. Yes, some people see you as hero. But these are the people who already see as you do. People like me... I'm sorry. We see you as a woman whose grief has driven you mad, turned you into little more than a fanatic. And nobody logical and reasonable listens to a fanatic... especially ones who make comments like yours of late.

A way you can make make a positive difference...

Go down south. Get on your bus~go down south and see just how bad it is. You have absolutely no idea how BAD it is.

And help. Stop stealing the media attention from where it is needed right now. These people need it more than you do right now. Go down there and help. Volunteers are desperately needed and apparently you have time on your hands. This way, you can get your face in the media, and you can also make a difference in the lives of those you thoughtlessly belittled with your comments.

And until you do something to fix your image in the eyes of people like me~you will not draw support from any where else beyond what you already have.

Why should you~i imagine you are wondering that. It would maybe undo some of that damage. It would help your fellow man. It would get some of the media attention that your... cause.. needs. The need for volunteers is desperate.

And people like me... the average middle class Republican, well, we're more likely to listen to the message you are saying when you are acting in a decent manner, doing something to help your fellow man, than when you marching down the streets of DC, sitting and SMILING in front of the white house and expecting the President to talk to you while he is in Colorado waiting to see if yet more American towns are going to be wiped off the map from yet another massive hurricane.

Don't worry Cindy somehow I missed your insensitive comment. No doubt I will hear about it. I appreciate that you are trying to save lives that are being destroyed by an unnatural disaster. All the people of Iraq who have lost loved ones appreciate what you are doing to try to free them from the occupation. All of us who have children in the military who do not want to see them involved in a war based on lies appreciate what you are doing. We love you Cindy.

Those who are morally blind to the destruction and devistation that Bush has caused both wantonly and thru neglect can not understand why you would protest his policies. We know that you are also concerned about the people of the Gulf Coast. Let's end this war and spend our money rebuilding the lives of the people in there. We'll repeal the tax cuts for the super rich while we're at it.

Perhaps you don't know, but Cindy WAS in Louisiana after Katrina. Perhaps you don't know, but when Camp Casey was struck, ALL the left-over supplies were sent to Covington, LA, who was getting no help and no media coverage at all. Perhaps you don't know, but many of the Veterans for Peace who left Camp Casey have been on the ground in Louisiana, communicating needs, distributing supplies, coordinating shipments into the area from all over the country, helping take care of people right in the middle of the disaster zone, and calling in other volunteers for help where it was needed.

If our National Guard (most of them) had been where they belonged instead of in Iraq, much suffering could have been alleviated. You look at the aid that Florida got and how fast it got there when they had all those storms last year. Contrast it with the bumbling and what looked like INTENTIONAL "efforts" of FEMA. FEMA turned away help. I was one of those who wanted to go back, but I was an "untrained volunteer" and was not acceptable. My husband is a licensed contractor and was turned down because he was an "untrained volunteer." Did anyone bother to ask what training we had? No. It didn't stop him from carrying in supplies, though...and he's on his way again tomorrow. This time he's planning to stay in whatever is left of our home. My part is to take care of our son and our three grandchildren until we can bring them home.

Meantime, you're complaining about a smile on the face of a woman who has had nothing to smile about in a long time and the fact that she's complaining because the main stream media can't seem to cover more than one story at a time. You imply that you resent her wanting to see a president who's busy with much more important things. I beg to differ with you on that. George W. Bush cares nothing about the devastation wrought by those two hurricanes. All he cares about is money and power and having things his way...Oh, and photo ops to shore up his image. He and his buds are doing everything they can to destroy this country. You should actually go to the PNAC website and READ it and think about the implications. They want EVERYONE here beholden to them for their life and livlihood, and they want to tell us all what we should think and believe, and if we don't agree with them, they want to call us unpatriotic and seditious and punish us. If you think this doesn't apply to you, live your life in illusion. Time will tell.

Your compassion for your fellow human beings is admirable, Anonymous. I wonder how you feel about the countless innocent men, women, and children slaughtered by the policies of your beloved president?

American lives aren't somehow better or more valuable than the lives of people who live in other countries. I sincerely hope you realize this.

"The Disconnected One" (your name for him cracks everyone up!!!) can only manage same old smirk ;)

Thank you for the explanation, Cindy. And to think, I thought you were smiling because the peace movement is winning. :)

Dear Anonymous,

Yes, I agree with you that the need for volunteers is desperate. But how can I who is holding down a job and supporting a family, leave my job and help? That is why there are organizations called the National Guard. If they were where they are supposed to be, the situation would not be as dire as it is. I certainly sympathize with you on your loss and with all the victims of the recent hurricanes. But those in charge who betray our trust are the ones who deserve our scorn, not Cindy. Not to confront them with their criminal negligence would be madness - sometimes one needs to be fanatical for the greater good. We are not dealing with people who have our best interest foremost in their minds. Keep smiling Cindy and KEEP FIGHTING!! I was in Washington this past weekend - THERE IS HOPE!

Cindy, Keep up the good work. SOme day the brainwashed ones will see they are wrong, when, not if, Bush's administration is rightly exposed and held accountable. Then the brainwashed ones will say they voted for Kerry. Isn't that how that usually goes? Anyway, I thought you were smiling because with your arrest, you knew this would help bring attention to our cause. I believe in my heart, that your love for your son is at the center of all your work in this movement. Continue to follow your heart, and I will also do what I can do as a working mom of a 16 year old son. I pray your efforts are rewarded in the end, and I, and many others, will be eternally grateful to you. Keep up the good work, and THANK YOU.

while your sitting on your ass getting jailed, i'm at WORK paying for it. Thanks.

possibly waste on more murdering and pirating for oil fields. If Cindy's jailing accelerates W's impeachment , she will save us a monumental amount of tax payer money from the PNAC ass-sitters!

Your valuable tax dollars are also paying for an Iraq war started on politician's lies and manufactured evidence. That war grinds up more soldiers each day. There is NO way the US can win this war without doing the unthinkable with nuclear weapons. So, if a cop wants to spend the citizens' money on arresting some peaceful war protesters, instead of solving real crimes in their own community....

The only reason there -jail- system works, is if U show fear...
Good goinn, give them a smile and a peacesign as U go off to the free zone...If every one would do this, in a very short time there -jail- sys. is garbage. OH ya don't show up for court, and encourage all those that smiled with U to do the same...just help mess with the court sys. as much as posible......


Everyday when I read about another soldier lost in Iraq, my heart breaks. My heart goes out to those who have been killed or injured and for those like Ms. Sheehan who remain to deal with the loss. We as Americans, as people should not be the imperialists we have become. I love my country but am just sick about the actions our President has taken here. I would like to join others over the Christmas holidays to protest. Tell me when and where. MB

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