Sheehan speaks at Powell protest3 min read

LEADING PEACE ACTIVIST LOST SON TO IRAQ WAR

Sherry Sanguinet

Peace activist Cindy Sheehan spoke out Wednesday at De Anza College against what she called an illegal and unjust war. Her appearance took place in Conference Rooms A and B of the Campus Center.

Students and faculty half-filled the room. Sheehan’s visit was part of three days of protest by students, faculty and community members in response to three days of speeches at the Flint Center by former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell.

"We all have blood on our hands," said Sheehan. "Some of us are covered in blood, and Colin Powell is one of those people." Sheehan said if she could say one thing to Powell tonight, she would ask, "When are you going to show some integrity and expose the lies?"

Sheehan assured the audience that she and her movement were not going away until Powell faced the truth. She criticized him for failing to his status as a highly respected political figure to avert the war in Iraq.

She called Powell’s endorsement of action in Iraq "the final nail in my son’s coffin."

Sheehan’s son Casey was killed in Iraq on April 4, 2004. He was 24 years old. He attended community college in Fairfield, California where he received an Associate of Arts degree in theater arts and was studying to become a teacher.

At Solano College, Casey was approached by military recruiters and subsequently enlisted in the army. Sheehan said we need to get military recruiters off school campuses.

"How can you look at yourselves in the mirror?" asked Sheehan of recruiters.

With regard to Bush, she said that lying before the election relinquished his right to govern. "It’s Congress’ job to declare war, not the President’s," said Sheehan.

Sheehan said Congress and the media would not help her so she decided to do it herself. On Sunday, August 7, Sheehan and other peace activists made a settlement in Crawford, Texas near Bush’s vacation home. The site in Crawford is now called Camp Casey.

There, Sheehan demanded that the president meet with her and tell her why her son died. Bush has not yet spoken to Sheehan in person.

Seven other speakers from the Voices of Camp Casey and the Crawford Peace Movement, including Professor Mary Ellen Goodwin, shared their views with the audience. De Anza President Brian Murphy also spoke.

De Anza graduate and grieving mother Karen Meredith said she has been on a journey for the last 16 months that no one would want to go through.

"They took my only son," said Meredith, who said she wasn’t allowed to see her son’s body after he died in Iraq.

Meredith’s son left Mountain View the day after Mother’s Day in 2004 to fight in Iraq. "He told me before he left, �Don’t worry Mom. I will make it up to you next year’," said Meredith. "That was my Mother’s Day gift."

Meredith’s son, Army 1st Lt. Kenneth Ballard, was stationed in Iraq for 384 days before he died in An Najaf.

She was one of several Gold Star Mothers who joined Cindy Sheehan in Crawford.

"I will never give them the power to say they ruined my life," said Meredith.

"We have the opportunity to speak for those who can’t," said Sean O’Neill, veteran of two tours of duty in Iraq. He quoted St. Augustine, saying, "The end of a just war is peace."

Dennis Kyne, a 15-year veteran, was seen on stage holding a sign saying, "Cindy speaks for me." He said, "Cindy Sheehan represents everything a dead soldier’s mother should be."

Anne Rosler says she lives in fear that someone will knock on her door and tell her that her son has died.

Former diplomat Ann Wright could no longer represent what the Bush Administration stood for. "It’s time for civil disobedience," Wright said.

Music played and all the speakers gathered, making peace signs and swaying back and forth. Many began to weep for the fallen soldiers.

"I wouldn’t mind the war so much if the old men in Congress [would] go fight it," Sheehan said.

Kharman Aidun and Dan Sealana contributed to this article.