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Military Mother Speaks Out

Taylor Conrad

Cindy Sheehan learned of a personal tragedy in the most impersonal way.

She saw images of her son’s unit, being attacked by rocket propelled grenades and small arms fire in Iraq on CNN Nightly News. A few hours later, a knock on her door confirmed her worst fears. Her son had died.

Specialist Casey Sheehan was 24 years old when he was killed in Sadr City, Baghdad. Three months after his death, Cindy Sheehan joined Military Families Speak Out.

MFSO is a non-profit group of people who have family members or loved ones in the military. The group has aimed to encourage military families to speak out against the war.

The focus of Sheehan’s speech on Sunday Nov. 7 at the Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists was to discuss the “spiritual journey” she’s gone through since losing her son. She shared with the congregation an emotional letter she wrote to President Bush seven months after her son’s death.

“It has been seven months today since your reckless and wanton foreign policies killed my son, my big boy, my hero, my best friend,” Sheehan read. “Now I know how much you have damaged my family, this country and this world.”

Sheehan has spent the last five months traveling the country with her daughter to speak out against the occupation in Iraq. She spoke at a memorial in Washington D.C., and more recently she traveled to swing states to encourage undecided voters to cast their ballot for Kerry.

Country Joe MacDonald, a Vietnam veteran, well-known musician and anti-war activist, was in attendance at Sheehan’s speech and had strong words to say about military families.

“I would like to suggest that civilians have no comprehension of what it means to be in a military family,” MacDonald said. “For the military family, the military experience is a 24/7, 365-day experience and even when it’s over, it’s not over.”

Before offering a heartfelt rendition of Unicita, a song he wrote, MacDonald said, “At this time, as we struggle for the meaning of war, we need to embrace the military family.”

Sheehan concluded her speech by saying that she knew how difficult it is for President Bush, whom she referred to as George, to cover all of his lies, but she said, “It’s harder work seeing your oldest son, your brave and honorable man child, go off to an unjust war.”