by Andrew for Oklahoma (Brother of 9/11 Victim David Rice & 2006 Candidate for State Senate in Oklahoma)
In Oct. 2004 I flew to San Francisco to do a speaking event with Lila Lipscomb (of FARENHEIT 9/11 and a fellow member of GSFP with Cindy). Cindy came to the event that night to meet us. If I recall correctly, Cindy had just begun getting more and more active in opposing the war that had killed her son Casey. Lila, of course, was and still is very active as well.
After the event I was talking with some friends and fellow members of Sept. 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows (http://www.peacefultomorrows.org ) and it was apparent to us, in watching Cindy and Lila speak to the press and people who attended the event, that they and other military families who had paid the worst price from an unnecessary war would be the catalysts who would bring an end to the occupation of Iraq. They would be able to ultimately succeed where us 9/11 families who were against the war had not been able to succeed.
In late 2002, and early 2003, a majority of the American people and the media could not see the ways in which 9/11 was being exploited for the war. Among other factors, people's fears about terrorism and inability to suspect the government would use 9/11 for other purposes was too much to accept. Call it innocence or naivete.
When we went to Washington to lobby against the war vote, or had members of our group travel to Iraq before the war to share our concerns with Iraqi citizens, we were routinely dismissed as simply "leftist pacifists" who happened to have loved ones who died on 9/11. In reality, we instead were everyday Americans who had loved ones who were murdered, and through tremendous outreach with experts on terrorism, knew that the war in Iraq was a diversion from our efforts to protect our country from terrorism. Anyone who genuinely researched Al-Qaeda and why they attacked us in East Africa, on the USS Cole, and on 9/11 also understood that the impending war would be the "shot in the arm" that Bin Laden wanted from 9/11 for the concept and growth of Al-Qaeda.
Cindy Sheehan, and the protestors with her now in Crawford, have the ability to turn the tide and the end the war in Iraq. I have seldom, if at all, been optimistic that the American public could get to a point of demanding the troops be brought home, but I now see the hope and possibility. It is very upsetting that it has taken a death toll to bring us to this point.
Cindy, Lila and the many other mothers and family members of dead soldiers have the moral authority to reach people in their living rooms and touch them in a very personal way. Couple this with the slow but important emergence of the Downing Street Memo, the lack of WMDs, etc., over the last year-- and the timing has become perfect. The Rove machine of deflect and deceive has run its course.
I encourage people to find creative ways to expose Cindy's vigil to your neighbors and family members who "need" to keep hearing about it. It's my opinion that our message should be clear and consistent: Iraq was never a threat to the security of our families and communities; therefore not a single death of our American soldiers can be "noble". The only way a military death can be noble is in protection of American lives. We attacked a country (for regime change) that the Osama Bin Laden, the man responsible for 9/11 and my brother's death, explicitly stated where he also wanted regime change. He considered people like my brother an "infidel", and saw Saddam Hussein and the Bathists as the same.
We are the logical, mainstream, reasonable, ethical voice in this debate....the folks who went down to Crawford on the bus with the hate radio DJ are the extremists who will not face reality, and who have the indecency to smear a mother who has paid the worse price imaginable.
I feel sorry for them, despite their callousness. Their ideology blinds them from recognizing the deep trauma of not only losing a loved one, but losing someone you love because of a tragic mistake made by other people.
The more we stress this, and keep adding to the momentum that Cindy has created, the better our chances of swinging the moderate mainstream of this country into our camp (Camp Casey). We will then be able to protect the lives of our soldiers and innocent Iraqis, and therefore truly protect ourselves from terrorism.