Saturday, August 27, 2005


I have no idea how it feels to lose a child, but I would think that it is probably the most difficult and painful experience imaginable. I have lost my parents, but burying one's parents is within the realm of natural order. Burying one's child is not.

In Cindy's eyes, Casey Sheehan will always be her child and I would expect no less. In reality though, Casey was a young adult who joined the military and reenlisted in 2003 fully knowing that his unit was to be sent to Iraq. He was killed when his convoy was attacked even though, as a mechanic, he was not compelled to be part of the convoy. He volunteered for the convoy to be with his comrades, fully knowing it was a combat situation. He was an honorable man.

Did Casey Sheehan believe in our mission in Iraq? In reality, we will never know. People on both sides seem to want to make assumptions as to Casey's motivations, assumptions that support their own beliefs about the Iraq war and I'll not engage in this sort of gruesome ventriloquism. What we do know is that Casey walked into the situation which took his life with his eyes fully open. I think that it would be unreasonable to assume that a young man who served in the military, then reenlisted with the knowledge that Iraq would be his destination would be unaware of the personal risk that is the nature of war. The very fact that he was there does give us some indication.

For Cindy Sheehan to forever see Casey as her defenseless child is natural, though I would hope she will eventually will see him as the honorable man he was. For the press and the left wing anti-war movement to glom onto and use Cindy Sheehan and her grief to their own ends is not only unseemly; it's thoroughly disgusting.

As this continues to play out, it seems that it is all about Cindy. Yes, I feel sympathy for any mother who has lost her child, but are we no forgetting the nearly 1,900 men and women who have lost their very lives? Who speaks for them? Who speaks for those men and women who enlisted in the military for the expressed purpose of serving in Iraq because they deeply believe in the mission? I'm sorry to have to ask this question, but is Cindy speaking for Casey, or is she speaking for Cindy?

I'm in the airline business and a few months ago I had the privilege to fly with a pilot, a Captain, who was taking a leave of absence in order to enlist in the Army and has volunteered to go to Iraq. Assuming that he was going to be flying, I asked him if he was going to fly fixed wing aircraft or choppers. He replied that he was not enlisting to fly. He was going in as as an infantryman, a buck private, a "grunt" as he described it. Why? Because he has a burning desire to do his part in a mission in which he deeply believes. This is a man with an excellent job, an enviable job by anyone's standards, who is putting it all on hold so that he can risk his life as a foot soldier in Iraq. His local newspaper got wind of his enlistment and wanted to do a big story, but he specifically asked them to respect his privacy. Why? Because he did not see himself as anything special, and he felt that for him to be portrayed as such would somehow diminish the sacrifices of all of the others serving their country in Iraq. His quiet dignity was humbling, but it made me proud to be part of a country that produces such individuals. I will never forget him and I pray to God that I will one day fly with him again.

Who speaks for him?

Who speaks for the thousands of brave men and women, who have seen combat in Iraq, and have reenlisted because they believe in our mission? Should those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in an endeavor that they find worthy of that sacrifice be used in an effort to turn their pursuit of success into failure?

Ms. Sheehan has been said to have "the ultimate moral authority" to speak against the war because of the loss of her son in that war. There is, however, no such "moral authority" afforded those who are actually fighting the war; those who risk their lives 24-7, those who are enlisting and reenlisting in droves. There has also been no such "moral authority" afforded those parents and spouses of men and women killed in the Iraq war who are in support of our actions there. "Moral authority" seems to be a commodity that exists only in the eyes of the beholder.

Cindy Sheehan's grief has become a bizarre public spectacle and her increasingly outlandish statements have attracted an equally bizarre group of supporters from white supremacist, neo-Nazi David Duke to 60s flower-child icon Joan Baez to Al Sharpton to Pat Buchanan - a motley group if there ever was one. Her family has distanced themselves from her and those who wish to share the spotlight, shed upon her by a compliant media, have enthusiastically filled the void and are cheering her on. When the carnival ends and the spotlight is darkened, I can only hope that someone close to Cindy will be there for her when reality sets in because her new "friends" will long since be gone in pursuit of the next spotlight.

This isn't about Cindy Sheehan, nor is it about Casey Sheehan. It's about our media's seeming inability, or rather refusal to understand concepts such as sacrifice, honor and duty. Have they, in the interest of balance, sought out a grieving parent of one of the fallen who is proud of the sacrifice that their son or daughter chose to make and given them like coverage? Well, no they haven't and I find especially egregious in that I would suspect that there are a lot more grieving parents who honor their children's sacrifice and the cause in which they believed than there are Cindy Sheehans - thank God.

Cindy's 15 minutes are used up and her grief is beginning to look suspiciously like self-promotion. I have no doubt that her loss is unimaginably painful, but it is no more painful than that of the parents of any other dead soldier in history. Poignant, yet not unique. I wish she would go away now and find some way to recover her dignity and a more positive way to express her grief other than abject hatred of her country, her president, the Jewish cabal, et al. For God's sake, David Duke has rushed to her side, is this the company she wants to keep? I just wish she would go away now and allow a grateful nation to honor her son, even if she refuses to do the same, for Casey Sheehan was an honorable man.

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