Cindy Sheehan and other military families spoke at a mass rally during the last weekend of Bush’s vacation–and the last weekend of Camp Casey. We hear from Cindy, mothers Amy Branham and Jane Bright, and a Marine veteran. [includes rush transcript]
Sheehan and her supporters have attracted international attention for their protest and have galvanized the anti-war movement in these dog days of summer. And though Bush has so far refused to meet Cindy, she has forced him to repeatedly defend the war in light of polls showing dwindling support for his handling of the war and increased skepticism of the rationale for the invasion.
- Cindy Sheehan, mother of soldier killed in Iraq and founder of Camp Casey in honor of her son Casey Sheehan who was killed in Iraq in April, 2004. She is also a co-founder of Gold Star Families for Peace.
- Amy Branham and Jane Bright, both had sons who died in Iraq. They spoke at the Camp Casey rally on Saturday.
- Sean O’Neill, of Fremont, California, served with the Marines for four years and participated in the invasion of Iraq, and then the occupation the following year.
AMY GOODMAN: Cindy Sheehan responded to Bill Johnson and other counter-protesters.
CINDY SHEEHAN: This is why I came out here on August 6. Why are we allowing him to continue killing our kids, because he has killed so many already? Why are we allowing that to continue? And I came out, and I said, "I’ve had enough." And this is America standing up and saying, "We’ve had enough." We have had enough of you, and we’re saying — you know, he always said before he got us into this illegal and immoral invasion and occupation of Iraq, "If you are not for us, you are against us." Well, Mr. President, we’re against you.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: We’re mad as hell, and we’re not going to take it anymore!
CINDY SHEEHAN: "We’re mad as hell, and we’re not going to take it anymore." That’s what he said. And I want to tell the pro-war people and the pro-killing people who have tried to smear me and smear my family — yeah, the Christians, the nice people. You know, like Joan said, religious right, eat your heart out. Because we know our Lord does not stand for killing. I know my Lord doesn’t. I just want to say, "Smear away, because we’re not going away." Hold your signs up that say I’m married to Osama bin Laden. You know, tell everybody that I am sponsored by al Qaeda and white supremacists. Tell everybody that I’m a terrible mother.
You know what? I’m doing this for every child in this world, because if we let George Bush continue, it’s going to be eternal war forever. My unborn grandchildren will have to fight in this war. That’s why we have to stop this man. I’d also like to ask him and the pro-war people — even the pro-war moms and dads who have lost children or have children serving over there, how many more are you willing to sacrifice before you say enough is enough? How many more are we willing to sacrifice for lies and deceptions, and bullcrap, and to make people rich and to give people who have too much power already more power? How many more of our young people and our leaders and our lifeblood, how many more Caseys and Evans and Michaels and Jeremies are we willing to sacrifice for their lies?
AMY GOODMAN: Cindy Sheehan speaking at a major anti-war rally outside the presidential estate in Crawford, Texas, Saturday. She was joined by a number of mothers who have lost their children. Jane Bright and Amy Branham are two mothers whose sons have died in Iraq.
AMY BRANHAM: My name is Amy Branham. I’m from Houston, Texas. My son, Sergeant Jeremy Smith, died on February 13, 2004. He believed in this war, and he believed the lies he was told. And he would be damn mad to know that he was lied to. Jeremy doesn’t have a voice. I’m his voice, and you are his voice. And I want you to help me speak up. Don’t remain silent. We have got to end this war. We need to bring our soldiers home. They have honor, and they are serving with honor and dignity, and we need to respect them. I was here with Cindy the day that we marched on Crawford in the ditch. Thank you, Cindy. And thank you, Texas. I was so afraid to speak up. I’m not afraid anymore. I faced my worst fear. My son died. Nothing will scare me anymore. Thank you, America, and thank you for coming.
JANE BRIGHT: Good afternoon. I’m Jane Bright, and I’d like to tell you a little bit about my son, Sergeant Evan Ashcroft, who was killed July 24, 2003 on the perimeter of an oil refinery near Mosul, Iraq. He was a gifted student. He was a classical pianist. He was a future leader, and what we’re doing is we’re killing our future leaders. We’re sacrificing them for the agenda of the Bush administration. We have to bring our soldiers home. We have to bring them home complete, sane, healthy and ready to start their lives, and stop this insanity. And we have to keep asking Cindy’s question: What is the noble cause, Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney, Mr. Rumsfeld? Why are our soldiers in Iraq, and when are we bringing them home?
AMY GOODMAN: Amy Branham and Jane Bright, mothers who both lost sons in Iraq. This is Sean O’Neill of Iraq Veterans Against the War. We will play what he had to say tomorrow on Democracy Now!
AMY GOODMAN: We turn now to Sean O’Neill of Iraq Veterans Against the War.
SEAN O’NEILL: This has got to be the single largest gathering of patriots I have ever seen in my life. I want to say that if I was in Iraq right now with my battalion, I would be proud to see this and I would feel inspired that someone cares about America and wants to do what’s right for this country. I think it’s — I’m Sean O’Neill. I was a corporal in the Marine Corps in the infantry, and I did two tours in Iraq.
And I think it’s important that I tell you why I’m here. I’m here because of Cindy. She’s a mother, and she’s every soldier’s mother in a way. On a day in April, actually it was in the morning, after my convoy was ambushed, my mom almost became like Cindy Sheehan when she received a call at 2:00 in the morning to tell that her son had been injured in a firefight. My mom almost became Cindy Sheehan, and if my mom was up here doing what Cindy Sheehan is doing, I would want someone like me here to support her.
I’m also here because I know too many good men that died out there, who left behind families, widows, children that will grow up without their fathers, and for what? I ask myself this all the time. When we lost our first marine, Jesus Suarez del Solar, when he bled out on a roadside because we couldn’t have a MedEvac, and his family was lied to. When I saw his mother grieving and screaming, shrieking like a banshee and clinging to us, to me in particular when I went to the memorial for First Marine Division’s dead. That’s when I decided to come and do things like this.
My second tour in Iraq brought more education when I saw children starving in Al-Qaim and Fallujah, when I would go into our chow halls and see all-you-can-eat buffets, soldiers and sailors and airmen and marines stuffing ourselves where a mile away just outside the wire, children are dying from diphtheria and anything else that could be cured just by a normal healthy diet. When I saw that we weren’t doing anything, that all we did was pave over our own supply routes and exclude the Iraqis when we didn’t build schools and hospitals and things that they needed, we weren’t there for them. We were just taking care of our own interests.
AMY GOODMAN: Sean O’Neill of Iraq Veterans Against the War, speaking at Crawford, Texas.