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A Mother Finds Her Voice in a Ditch in Crawford, TX

Campus Progress visits with Cindy Sheehan outside the Bush ranch.

Opinions, Todd Hill, North Lake College, Aug. 15, 2005

Campus Progress visits with Cindy Sheehan outside the Bush ranch.

By Todd Hill, North Lake College

Click here for a gallery of photos from Todd’s trip to Texas.

Determination – the quality of being determined to do or achieve something. Strength – the property of being physically or mentally strong. These days, military veterans, loved ones of fallen patriots, concerned citizens, and peace activists around the world are seeing those qualities in a woman named Cindy Sheehan.

The mother of the late Army Spc. Casey Sheehan, 24, from Vacaville, CA, has become a lightning rod for both the left and right sides of the political spectrum. As the president left Washington for his Prairie Chapel Ranch in Crawford, Texas, another 5-week rest and relaxation session for the Vacationer-In-Chief was the main thing on his agenda. Cindy had other plans.

Just 10 miles away from the president’s front door, Cindy and her supporters, including myself, keep up a consistent barrage of questions: “Why doesn’t he get it?” “Can he understand a loss of this magnitude?” “Why won’t he talk with Cindy?” All the questions are disturbing what has become an annual presidential tradition of brush swiping, chainsaw hacking, pick-up truck driving, and staged photo opportunities in front of barns and bales of hay to create the perfect rugged cowboy look. A mother who was conflicted about voicing her war objections to the president in her first meeting with him after her son’s tragic death has now stepped forward and become a representative for the majority of Americans demanding the president answer the question, “for what noble and selfless cause” have our men and women in uniform died?

Cindy has become the center of attention in Crawford. It’s not about the publicity for her, though, nor is it about the countless interviews, the hundreds of flowers delivered from around the world, the thousands of dollars pouring into the Crawford Peace House for supplies, or the prayers that millions are providing to her at this moment from around the world.

Though she has become the voice of many, the tears she sheds are personal – for her own pain and her own anger for waiting so long to stand up and speak out. Even if she wasn’t garnering the kind of media barrage that now surrounds her, she would still be out in the ditch, with fire ants everywhere, in the blistering hot and muggy Texas weather, demanding her absolutely justified questions be answered. That is all that she wants and then she will leave. A moment of truth from our leadership is a small price to pay for the sacrifice of her son for our nation.

The question of, “for what noble and selfless cause did our young patriots die for” is a question that is now being asked regularly throughout the United States. Voices are being raised in coffee shops in Ohio, diners in Texas, VA hospitals in Maryland, Veterans of Foreign Wars posts in the Midwest, and by veterans returning from Iraq, determined to break that bubble of arrogance that surrounds this administration.

Of course, Cindy’s question is nothing new – and it has been reverberating around the world since the ramp up to this neoconservative democracy installation project began shortly after September 11th. We are not safer as a result of going to war in a sovereign nation. Iraq did not pose the imminent national security threat that the American people, Congress, and the world were told it did. The evidence we were presented with never fit the plan in the first place. A strategy was never created to limit the deaths of innocents on both the Iraqi side and the coalition side. Nor was a strategy for peaceful transition and eventual American exit formulated. Stubbornness, arrogance, and lack of a realistic and allied approach to America’s security have now resulted in the deaths of hundreds and hundreds of America’s priceless youth along with thousands of other innocent victims of war.

Instead of meeting with Cindy and confidently repeating his passionate cry of “staying the course,” the president chooses to let a grieving mother of a fallen patriot sleep in a ditch. The world is watching, and vacation time is ticking away. Barring arrest, Cindy will remain in Crawford, and will continue on to Washington, DC if necessary. This is one spur the president isn’t going to be able to shake.

Cindy Sheehan

Cindy Sheehan

Cindy Sheehan

Cindy Sheehan

Todd Hill is a student at North Lake College, working on his political science degree and preparing to finish his education at Southern Methodist University. Todd is a grassroots leader in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex, and the newly elected Executive Director of the Tarrant Young Democrats, as well as one of many founders and Co-coordinators of General Wesley Clark’s presidential campaign in 2004.

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