Wednesday, August 10, 2005

What's a mother to do?

"Why did you kill my son?"

That's the mantra of Cindy Sheehan, of Vacaville California. She lost her son, Army Spc. Casey Sheehan, in Iraq last year and this year she is demanding a meeting with Bush to challenge him with her question.

In her own words:

"I want to ask the president, why did he kill my son?" Sheehan told reporters. "He said my son died in a noble cause, and I want to ask him what that noble cause is."

Sheehan said hers was one of a group of about 15 families who each met separately with the president one day last June.

"He wouldn't look at the pictures of Casey. He didn't even know Casey's name," she told CNN Sunday. "Every time we tried to talk about Casey and how much we missed him, he would change the subject."

Sheehan said she was so distraught at the time that she failed to ask the questions she now wants answered.

"I want him to honor my son by bringing the troops home immediately," Sheehan told reporters Saturday. "I don't want him to use my son's name or my name to justify any more killing."

When I first heard about this on a Drudge Report, my first instinct was to be cautious. A grieving mom is a serious thing, and perhaps she needs this, perhaps she deserves some comfort and answers. Conservatives bristling at the obvious anti war flavor, and the dramatic rhetoric I thought should tread softly. But I read on, and there is much more going on here.

It seems when Cindy met with the president back in June of 2004 she had a much different account:

The mother of a fallen U.S. soldier who is holding a roadside peace vigil near President Bush's ranch -- has dramatically changed her account about what happened when she met the commander-in-chief last summer!

Cindy Sheehan, 48, of Vacaville, Calif., who last year praised Bush for bringing her family the "gift of happiness," took to the nation's TV outlets this weekend to declare how Bush "killed an indispensable part of our family and humanity."

CINDY 2004:

THE REPORTER of Vacaville, CA published an account of Cindy Sheehan's visit with the president at Fort Lewis near Seattle on June 24, 2004:"

'I now know he's sincere about wanting freedom for the Iraqis,' Cindy said after their meeting. 'I know he's sorry and feels some pain for our loss. And I know he's a man of faith.'

"The meeting didn't last long, but in their time with Bush, Cindy spoke about Casey and asked the president to make her son's sacrifice count for something. They also spoke of their faith.

"The trip had one benefit that none of the Sheehans expected."

For a moment, life returned to the way it was before Casey died. They laughed, joked and bickered playfully as they briefly toured Seattle.

For the first time in 11 weeks, they felt whole again." 'That was the gift the president gave us, the gift of happiness, of being together,' Cindy said."

When you compare the two accounts they stand in sharp contrast. So what's the the truth? I don't know. She was noted as being more critical in August, so it seems more then likely she was anti war already. So why the gushing glowing praise in June?

So rather then try and figure out whether she is a hypocrite, a media hound or just a grieving mom who changed her mind, I decided to profile some other moms/spouses.

Crystal Owen, whose husband, Staff Sgt. Mike Owen, was killed in Iraq last year. She also met with the President, but this is what she told him:

'I know people are pushing you, but please don't pull the guys out of Iraq too soon. Don't let my husband -- and 1,700-plus other deaths -- be in vain. They were over there, fighting for a democratic nation, and I hope you'll keep our service members over there until the mission can be accomplished

Janet Norwood, who's son Sgt. Byron Norwood was slain in Iraq, embraced an Iraqi woman, Safia Taleb al-Suhail who's father was slain by Saddam's Intelligence Service had just voted in the first Iraqi Election. These two women who met last February, embody the duality of the conflict. One has lost a loved one to free the other of the cruelty that took her loved one.

"She thanked us for our son's sacrifice and made sure we knew the people in Iraq were grateful for the sacrifices that were made not just by our son, but by all of them said. I just told her how happy we were that the elections were successful and told her our son would have been pleased."

The fundamental differences I see between these two women and Mrs Sheehan is that first, they seem to understand that their loved ones volunteered and knew what they were volunteering for and they second, they are proud of them, despite their pain.

So far I have yet to see her express any pride in her son reenlisting in August, knowing he would likely go to war, but doing so anyway because he wanted to be part of his unit there. He made his choice, and in her interviews she constantly makes excuses. Did it for the college money....etc. She has her reasons why he shouldn't have, and those override why he actually did, in my opinion.

Cathy, a friend just sent me this:

My son Wes will be deployed to Afghanistan in February. Of course he faces various trainings prior to that, like needing to learn the language, etc. This will most likely be in Colorado. He and his best friend who joined together have been selected as top gunners. I am proud of him ,but of course scared. We have been dealing with a lot of emotions since the news. It is a reality check when your son sits you down to go over the benificiariy papers and what I am to do with them if the need arrives!

I can so feel her pain, but I also know her overwhelming pride. She has never expressed anything but total support and pride for him as long as I have known her. She seems to know that her son is an adult now, and has to make his own choices, and despite ever screaming instinct to hold and protect her child, she supports those choices.

It may be she will bear that bad news, I pray not. But I guarantee that if the worst were to happen, she won't be camped out in Crawford Texas, and won't be holding interviews with CNN about how Bush killed her son.

I feel Cindy's loss as much as any parent can, though I have never lost a child. But confronting the president - again - won't bring him back, and won't end the war. All it will do is cause her pain to fester, and force her to relive her son's death again and again. Maybe its time she accepted his adulthood, and his choice.

What's a mother to do? Let go. Instead she lives in the personal hell she carries in her heart.

UPDATE, via the Drudge report:

Thu Aug 11 2005 12:56:21 ET

The family of American soldier Casey Sheehan, who was killed in Iraq on April 4, 2004, has broken its silence and spoken out against his mother Cindy Sheehan's anti-war vigil against George Bush held outside the president's Crawford, Texas ranch.

The following email was received by the DRUDGE REPORT from Casey's aunt and godmother:

Our family has been so distressed by the recent activities of Cindy we are breaking our silence and we have collectively written a statement for release. Feel free to distribute it as you wish. Thanks Ð Cherie

In response to questions regarding the Cindy Sheehan/Crawford Texas issue: Sheehan Family Statement:

The Sheehan Family lost our beloved Casey in the Iraq War and we have been silently, respectfully grieving. We do not agree with the political motivations and publicity tactics of Cindy Sheehan. She now appears to be promoting her own personal agenda and notoriety at the the expense of her son's good name and reputation. The rest of the Sheehan Family supports the troops, our country, and our President, silently, with prayer and respect.


Casey Sheehan's grandparents, aunts, uncles and numerous cousins.