By Cindy Sheehan
One very positive aspect of my public anti-war, pro-peace stance is that it has put me in contact with so many people all over the world. I believe that my willingness to share my heart and tragic story (and in the process, tell the truth) helps people open up to me in ways that they cannot do with another. In the past few days, I have been bombarded with horror stories about what our government is doing to innocent Americans.
I was driving from one event to another the other day, and I got a call from an Iranian woman who is now a citizen of the United States, and who has been in the US for 30 years, is married to an American, has a 5 year old son, and a brother who has been in prison for 9 months for wanting to serve America.
My new Iranian/American friend, I will call her Susie, since her family is in danger of reprisal, told me that her brother signed up for the National Guard to give something back to the country that he has adopted as his own. He was lied to by his recruiter, who said he could have his student loans paid off and become an American citizen within a year. He also has severe learning disabilities and his recruiter falsified his test scores and his application. Susie’s brother was told that the mistakes would be "corrected" before the application was turned in. Like my KIA son, Casey, Susie’s brother naïvely trusted his recruiter.
One day, Susie’s brother, who was at that time in training as a chemical specialist, was sitting in class, when FBI agents came in and hauled him off to prison. He was told it was because he went to Iran twice after 9/11 (his country of birth and his family’s country), and because he falsified his application to get in the National Guard. Susie’s brother thought going into the National Guard was going to be a good and admirable thing, and he was deceived and betrayed. He didn’t get his student loans paid off, he didn’t get citizenship, but he did get thrown in jail without proper legal representation. Susie called her state’s senators to see if they could help her and her brother and she was told to quit making trouble, or her entire family would be investigated.
Then yesterday when I was traveling from event to event again, I got another phone call from a hysterical mom, Summer, whose son had been killed in Iraq in April of this year. Her medic son was found face down on his bunk with some morphine bottles around him. Summer was told that he died of a drug overdose and the report stated that her daughter-in-law and her son’s battle buddies all said that he abused drugs in Iraq. Summer was devastated. She knew her boy. She knew her son didn’t take drugs. She finally got a hold of the reports that contradicted what she was told by the military. All of the people interviewed said her son DID NOT abuse drugs. She received the toxicology report 2 months after her son died and he DID NOT have any drugs in his system. How did Summer’s son die and why is the Army trying to cover it up? Wasn’t it bad enough that this government took Summer’s son and killed him in an unjust, immoral, and illegal war? They had to lie to her, too?
This weekend, I also spent time at Kevin and Monica Benderman’s house at Ft. Stewart, Ga. Kevin, a conscientious objector, who refused to go back to Iraq with the 3rd Infantry Division and kill innocent people and participate in other war crimes, was convicted in his court-martial on July 28th of "missing movement" and he was sentenced to 15 months in federal prison. Kevin was obviously made an example to other soldiers who are also thinking of protesting this obscene occupation by refusing to kill blameless people, or die themselves. From the testimony that was given by the prosecution at the court-martial, it is clear that witnesses lied about Kevin and documents were falsified. I hate to see a brave, honorable, and patriotic American like Kevin railroaded to federal prison for standing up for what he knows is moral and correct. What makes Kevin’s treatment even worse is that those who are responsible for killing and maiming tens of thousands of innocent people and for the destruction of an innocent country are roaming around the world free to unleash more death and pandemonium.
For my effort in trying to awaken America to the dirty tricks and fraud of our government and for trying to call attention to the fact that thousands of people are dying and in harm’s way in Iraq for the lies, I am often called a traitor, terrorist supporter, Jane Fonda, unpatriotic, etc. I am called names that contain words that good Christian supporters of George should not even know, let alone use. I am accused of not supporting the troops, and people tell me that Casey would be spinning in his grave on which I am alternately: spitting, pissing, or s*itting on.
What has happened to America? What has happened to our freedoms? Where did sanity go? Where is the due process that we have always been entitled to? Why do people feel free to castigate the mother of a "war hero" for exercising her freedom of speech and why does our leadership feel free to lie to mothers of "war heroes"? Why aren’t the liars being held to the same standards as the people who are trying to expose them?
Stories like the above are becoming more and more common in the USA. The un-Patriot Act and the total disregard for the Constitution by nearly everyone who holds an elected or appointed position in our federal government is starting to hit too close to home for many people. When will the rest of America finally come out of its coma? When, God forbid, the jack-booted thugs come pounding on their door some midnight?
People like the Bendermans, Summer, Susie, and her brother should be defended and supported by every true American. The injustice of what is happening to some good, hard working and honest Americans is overwhelming, unfair, and un-American.
Ben Franklin said: "Those who would sacrifice essential liberties for a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." We are rapidly becoming a nation with neither. We should demand both, and refuse to give up any of our liberties or our security. These things are our birthrights. Please don’t give up yours. I am not giving up mine.
Cindy Sheehan [ SCINDY121@aol.com  ] is the mother of Spc. Casey Austin Sheehan, KIA 04/04/04 She is co-founder of Gold Star Families for Peace
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