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    INTRO TO CINDY SHEEHAN

    Casey Sheehan grew up in a devout Catholic home. He was an altar boy and an Eagle Scout. He joined the Army when he was 20 years old and trained as a mechanic. Casey re-enlisted in 2004, knowing full well that he could be sent into combat. Specialist Sheehan was a Humvee mechanic with the 1st Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment. In March, his unit was sent to Iraq.

    On April 4 2004, Palm Sunday, Casey had just returned from Mass and volunteered to join a QRF, a Quick Reaction Force put together to rescue a group of soldiers from another battalion that were pinned down by snipers during an attempted incursion into Sadr City. Not long after entering the Mahdi area, the QRF was channeled onto a dead-end street where the roofs were lined with snipers, RPGs, and militia throwing burning tires onto the vehicles from the roofs above. Casey’s vehicle was hit with multiple RPGs and automatic-weapons fire. Of the 20 soldiers trapped in that dead-end alley on a rescue mission, only 13 returned. Casey Sheehan died in the arms of his best friend. He was 24 years old.

    In June of 2004, Casey Sheehan’s mother, Cindy Sheehan, along with other military families whose children had recently been killed, met with President George Bush. It was, by all accounts, a strange meeting. In January of 2005, Cindy Sheehan became one of the founding members of Gold Star Families for Peace, an organization that seeks to end the occupation of Iraq and provide support for families of fallen soldiers.

    In August of 2005, Cindy established “Camp Casey” outside of George Bush’s Crawford Texas ranch, promising to stay there during his entire five week vacation or until he met with her to explain why her son had to die in a warrantless war. Cindy did not get to meet with the President in Texas, but hundreds of people joined her in her vigil. Bush did eventually acknowledge Cindy’s presence outside his ranch, telling the press:

    “I think it’s important for me to be thoughtful and sensitive to those who have got something to say. But I think it’s also important for me to go on with my life … I think the people want the president to be in a position to make good, crisp decisions and to stay healthy. And part of my being is to be outside exercising. So I’m mindful of what goes on around me. On the other hand, I’m also mindful that I’ve got a life to live and will do so.”

    George Bush said all that, then rode off on his bicycle. Sadly, his vacation was eventually interrupted by another powerful woman named Katrina who was busy destroying New Orleans while the President was riding his bike and making good, crisp decisions.

    Cindy Sheehan wrote this:

    “The challenge of the peace movement…is to convince each and every last American that he or she has a very intimate and personal stake in what we are allowing our government to do in Iraq and the world…We are not just outsourcing our torture to other countries or paying private mercenary contractors to do it: by sitting on our duffs and allowing the torturing to continue: we are the torturers. We are the subhuman beings who put the black masks on our victims, water board them, or do other inhumane and despicable acts on fellow human beings.”

    Fighting for peace has become Cindy Sheehan’s full time occupation. The Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr calls her “the Rosa Parks of the antiwar movement.” I am humbled, and deeply honored, to introduce our final speaker tonight, Casey Sheehan’s mom, Cindy Sheehan.


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