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2005-08-26

Military Mothers Rally Around Cindy Sheehan at Camp Casey

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We play a press conference from Camp Casey held by members of Gold Star Families for Peace and Military Families Speak Out with mothers and wives from around the country speaking about their opposition to the war and to President Bush’s policies in Iraq. [includes rush transcript]

We now turn to Camp Casey, the anti-war protest site where hundreds have camped out for more than two weeks next to President Bush’s Ranch in Crawford Texas. Mothers, wives and other family members gathered there after Cindy Sheehan, the mother of Casey, a solider killed in Iraq last year, began camping near the ranch earlier this month and vowed to stay until Bush met with her.

Cindy left the Camp late last week to go to Los Angeles and care for her ailing mother. She returned on Wednesday and held a press conference on Thursday morning with other members of Gold Star Families for Peace and Military Families Speak Out. The conference began with mothers and wives from around the country speaking about their opposition to the war and to Bush"s policies in Iraq. They also asked to meet with Bush and demanded that the troops be brought home.

Cindy also vowed she would lead a national bus tour beginning September 1 and ending September 24 in Washington D.C . That is the day that United for Peace and Justice and other anti-war groups are organizing a rally and march in D.C. Mark Anderson of the organization Eyes Wide Open also spoke at the press conference. Eyes Wide Open organized an exhibition on the human costs of the Iraq war that features a pair of boots honoring each U.S. military casualty. The group had been traveling with Casey’s boots for the week.

  • Mona Parsons, Son to be Deployed to Iraq
  • Caron, Son to be Deployed to Iraq
  • Catherine Bonney,Daughter in the Army
  • Deb Hagerman,Wife of Iraq War Veteran
  • Beth Lerman, Son Serving in Coast Guard
  • Theresa Dawson, Son in National Guard
  • Karen Merideth, Mother of Soldier Killed in Iraq
  • Cindy Sheehan, Son Killed in Iraq

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We turn now to Camp Casey, the anti-war protest site where hundreds have camped out for three weeks now next to President Bush’s property in Crawford, Texas. Mothers, wives, other family members are gathering there after Cindy Sheehan, the mother of Casey, a soldier killed in Iraq last year, began camping near the estate earlier this month. She’s vowed to stay until President Bush meets with her. Cindy Sheehan left the camp late last week to go to Los Angeles to care for her ailing mother. She returned Wednesday and held a news conference Thursday morning with other members of Gold Star Families for Peace. The news conference began with the mothers and wives from around the country speaking about their opposition to war and to President Bush’s policies in Iraq. They also asked to meet with Bush and demanded troops be brought home.

MONA PARSONS: I’m Mona Parsons, and I’m from Mt. Vernon, Ohio. And my son deploys for Iraq on our peace march day in Washington, September 24. And I basically am here because Cindy liberated me, as well as everyone else that’s here today.

*CARON*Hi, I’m Caron from Ohio, and this is my third day here. My son is a Marine in training. He will be going to overseas in November. And I’m here with hundreds of families and mothers who are supporting Cindy and supporting our cause to bring our troops home as soon as possible. Thank you.

CATHERINE BONNEY: Hi, my name’s Catherine Bonney, and I’m from Port Angeles, Washington. My daughter is in the army, my son-in-law just got out, and they were in the 101st Airborne in Iraq in that first push, and they left three kids at home. The baby was three months old, and I came down here when I first heard about Cindy and what she was doing for her support, as well as giving her my support, and I have just met the most wonderful families who are in horrible situations. And I want some answers from President Bush, as well. The Downing Street memo would be a good one to start with.

DEB HAGERMAN: My name is Deb Hagerman. I’m from Dayton, Ohio. My husband is a reservist who was deployed overseas at the start of the war. He’s facing possible redeployment, and I’m here because of a quote by Martin Luther King: "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."

BETH LERMAN: My name is Beth Lerman. I’m from Dayton, Ohio. I’m the mother of a Gulf War vet, and I have a son who is active duty in the Coast Guard right now. I’m here because Cindy has given me hope for the first time in a very long time, and I want to answer a question that’s been asked a lot, which is, "How does your son feel about you speaking out?" And I talked to him on the phone last night, and he said, "Ma, I’m entitled to the mother I have."

THERESA DAWSON: I’m Theresa from Ohio. My 20-year-old son is an Ohio National Guard reservist who is currently stationed in Iraq. Today Cindy and other numerous military families have come to Crawford seeking answers, because we have new information that we did not have in the lead-up to the war in Iraq. In light of this new information, Cindy and many other families have questions and would like the courtesy of truthful answers. Yet we are told we must kill to honor those who have died. We see this in Crawford today as the beginning of the end of the occupation of Iraq. And we support Cindy and her bravery and her efforts to bring the nation’s attention to this situation. We want our families home.

KAREN MEREDITH: My name is Karen Meredith. I’m from Mountain View, California. 1,873 soldiers have been killed in Iraq, American soldiers. My son, Lieutenant Ken Ballard, was one them. The reason that I came to Crawford was to hopefully have a chance to meet with the President. He has told Cindy that he will not meet with her because he already has. He met with other family members in Idaho, and I believe they were handpicked by this administration so that he would hear everything that he wanted to hear that will enable him to go out and continue preaching that the war is going well. The numbers don’t support that.

We need to have a conversation with the President. What Cindy did here is she opened this up to dialogue to everyone in the country, and she gave permission for people to come out and speak their minds. My message to the President is please tell me what the noble cause that my son died for. Please tell me that you will never, ever, ever again say we must honor the troops by continuing the mission. You do not honor my son by having one more child taken from their family. Please, President Bush, honor my child with the truth. Thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: Gold Star Families for Peace yesterday in Crawford, Texas. This is what some of Cindy Sheehan had to say.

CINDY SHEEHAN: So it was really nice to be here and nice to see, you know, what Casey sacrificed, what Ken sacrificed, what John sacrificed has started in this country, that we are making it stand for peace and not for more killing. I know my son. I know him better than anybody else. And he wasn’t married. We were very close. He called me every day when he was at Fort Hood. We talked about all of his life, all of my life, and I lost my best friend when I lost my son. But I know my son, and I know he would say, "I don’t want any more of my buddies killed just because I’m dead. I want my buddies to come home alive." And I know when I get up to greet him, when it is my time, he is going to say, "Good job, Mom." He’s not going to accuse me of dishonoring his memory. And anybody who knows my son better than me would like to come forward and tell me something different, I will be glad to hear their voices.

Also, my mom. My mom was moved to a private room, and she is doing physical therapy now. Her right side was paralyzed. She had a major stroke, but it wasn’t a hemorrhagic stroke, so they are expecting her to at least partially recover, and I want to thank everybody in America for all of their thoughts and prayers. As a matter of fact, everybody from all over the world was praying for my mom. I told my mom she was the most famous stroke victim, you know, at this time. So, she smiled about that. She tried to tell me that she loved me when I left.

And one good thing about Camp Casey and what we started here is that when I left it didn’t end. When I left it thrived and it grew. And it’s because I am not alone. I’m not the only one that wants the answers to these questions. There’s the people standing behind me here, but there’s thousands of military families, hundreds of Gold Star families who want the same answers to the questions. You know, and I never, ever got up here and said, "I speak for every single Gold Star family, I speak for every single military family." I’ve never said that. But I know I speak for thousands of them. I know we speak for thousands of them when we want to know what is the noble cause our children died for, what is the noble cause they are still fighting for and dying for every day. And that is what we want the answers to the questions. And there’s millions of Americans here with us, thousands here actually in Crawford who want the same answers. They don’t have what I like to call skin in the game, but we are all affected. Humanity is affected when one country wages an illegal and immoral war on another country. It affects our entire humanity. And that’s why America is behind us, saying we want the answers to those questions, too.

And there’s other people who disagree with our position who have lost their children. And I know with Karen here and Melanie and Susan, we respect their rights to their opinions, because at the end of the day or at the beginning of this quest, we started in the same way, with our loved one coming home in a flag-draped coffin. And if there is any family who says that they believe their child died for a noble cause, I say that is your right if that helps you get through the day, if that helps you in your pain because we all — we might not have the same politics, but trust me, we have the same pain. And we do what we have to do to get through our pain, and we hope they respect us for that, and we respect them in any way they have to do to get through their pain.

AMY GOODMAN: Cindy Sheehan, speaking with other mothers and families who have lost loved ones in Iraq or have them deployed in Iraq or the veterans themselves who have returned.

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