Monday, December 2, 2013
Support Cindy Sheehan!
"Vallejo Holds Vigil to Call for Peace"
2005-08-18 by J.M. BROWN and CHRIS G. DENINA from "Vallejo Times-Herald" [www.timesheraldonline.com/ci_2952360]:
About 100 opponents of the American-led occupation of Iraq gathered in Vallejo on Wednesday night to support Cindy Sheehan, the Vacaville mother defiantly camped out near President Bush's ranch near Crawford, Texas. The Solano Peace and Justice Coalition organized the solemn event near the Ferry Terminal after calls from national anti-war groups to host vigils for Sheehan, whose son, Army Spec. Casey Sheehan, was killed in Iraq last year.
Sheehan talked with President Bush in Fort Lewis, Wash., shortly after her son was killed. But she said was too deeply mired in grief to question him about his reasons for going to war. She wants that chance now.
Her nearly two-week protest has attracted hundreds of followers to her campsite and has captured international media attention. It also won support Wednesday from California lawmakers. But the standoff has upset many military families, including some in Vallejo.
Participants at the Vallejo vigil held signs with messages including "Stop the war," "End the occupation, U.S. out of Iraq now" and "Bush, go out and talk to Cindy."
"We should do everything to prevent violence and prevent war," said coalition member Alan Moore of Vallejo, who said he is a friend of Cindy Sheehan. "People should reflect before they're quick to point fingers who's right and wrong."
Sheehan's stand has brought more needed attention to the war, said coalition treasurer Dona Rose of Benicia. "We just needed a little kick-start to remind us we have such a huge stake," she said. "War is not the answer to anything. Of all people, she should know the pain."
Bush should take the time to meet with Sheehan, Rose said. "The president needs to come out and talk to people," she said. "He can't just hide forever."
Carrying an unlit candle and her daughter, Alice, Lesley Dellamonica of Vallejo said, "I just hope people can see it's everyday families questioning this war."
Organizers plan to continue weekly vigils at 5 p.m. Thursdays in Benicia's City Park.
Relatives of troops who have served in Iraq say they sympathize with Sheehan but oppose her actions. The protest is not supportive of the troops, they say.
The brother of Vallejo native Army Sgt. Elmer Krause, who was killed in Iraq in April 2004, met with President Bush the same day as Sheehan did last year.
"When she was at Fort Lewis she had every opportunity to ask him what she wanted," Jim Krause, of Fairfield, told the Times-Herald last week. "I'm in the same company as her, as far as grief. I deal with it my way, but anger is not coming out."
Linda O'Brien of Vallejo, whose Army son is returning to Iraq next month for a second tour, said Sheehan's standoff is "hurting troop morale."
"Personally, I don't believe in what she's doing," O'Brien said Wednesday. "I feel, from a mother's heart, her perspective. I feel that she's hurting."
But, O'Brien said, protesting the war in such a public way is "not the best way" to express the pain.
"It's hard for me to say because I don't have a son that's been killed in Iraq," O'Brien said. "Maybe I'd feel differently in that situation. Knowing my son has to go back to Iraq now, it's frightening for me."
In about two weeks, O'Brien and her husband, Michael, will travel to Fort Campbell, Ky., to visit their son Thomas, a specialist with the 101st Airborne, before he leaves for Iraq. O'Brien said she will tell her son and his fellow troops that "I feel for them, how I'll be praying for them."
O'Brien said she believes President Bush is correct in not meeting with Sheehan. "He has a job to do - it's not taking the time every time someone wants to meet with the president," she said.
A letter from lawmakers -
Nineteen Democratic members of the California Assembly disagree. On Wednesday, they sent a letter to President Bush, urging him to meet with Sheehan.
Organized by Assemblymember Wilma Chan of Oakland, the letter says, in part: "Given the recent tragic loss of American lives in Iraq and the injuries American troops have sustained since the beginning of the war, we hope that you can appreciate their right as citizens to petition the government. We hope that you will be able to meet with Ms. Sheehan and the families of other young men and women killed in Iraq during your time in Crawford, Texas."
The Vallejo vigil was among hundreds nationwide. More than 1,600 were planned from coast to coast by liberal advocacy groups MoveOn.org Political Action, TrueMajority and Democracy for America. A large vigil was also planned in Paris.
In San Francisco, about 200 demonstrators showed up in a cold wind in front of the federal building to hold a vigil. A flutist played a tune as commuter traffic sped by and demonstrators huddled to keep their candles lit inside small paper cups. Some of the protesters held signs that read "Meet with Cindy" and "End the Iraq war."
One of the demonstrators, Anne Roesler, of San Jose, has a son who returned from a deployment in Mosul about four months ago. "The only thing our troops are doing over there now is keeping themselves alive," she said. "It's time for George Bush to listen to people like Cindy."
Actor Richard Dreyfuss attended a vigil in the Studio City area of Los Angeles with his son and about 500 others. "Cindy Sheehan is making a starting point with the questions she is asking and it's not unpatriotic to ask them," Dreyfuss said. "It's actually a higher form of patriotism."
Near Philadelphia's Independence Hall, a few hundred people strained to hear the parent of another soldier killed in Iraq. "This war must stop," said Al Zappala, 65, whose 30-year-old son, Sgt. Sherwood Baker, died in an explosion in Baghdad in April 2004.
Karen Braz, 50, held a pink votive cup and a sign reading "Moms for Peace" as she stood shoulder-to-shoulder with about 150 other people outside the New Hampshire statehouse in Concord. "My son is 26. It could've been him," she said
Some 200 people joined a peace vigil in Cincinnati's Fountain Square. Demonstrators softly sang "Give Peace A Chance" and lined one side of the square with signs, drawing honks of support from some passing motorists.
A banner bearing the name, age, rank, hometown and date of death of all Americans killed in Iraq and Afghanistan was unrolled at a vigil in Charleston, W.Va. - stretching the length of a city block.
"Our pastors and preachers need to hear from us," said one of the speakers in Charleston, Mary Ellen O'Farrell. "Ask your pastor to preach it from the pulpit. This war does not meet the criteria for a just war."
About 200 people attended a rally and candlelight vigil on the steps of the state Capitol in Oklahoma City. Marie Evans said it was a chance for those opposing the war to let their voices be heard.
"There was no question in my mind that we needed to make a statement in Oklahoma, which is a very conservative state," said Evans, who carried a sign that read "Their blood is on your hands."
In Hawaii, Kalihi Valley resident Charmaine Crockett invited scores of people to her hilltop house to light candles in sympathy for Sheehan. "I'm very moved by one person making a difference," Crockett said.
And at a vigil in Madison, Wis., Tammy Markee had some simple advice for Bush on how to handle Sheehan: "Be a man. Give her the respect she deserves. Sit down and talk with her."
Crawford ceremony -
As the sun set in Crawford, about 200 protesters lit candles and gathered around a wooden, flag-draped coffin at Sheehan's growing camp, about a mile from the Bush ranch.
"For the more than 1,800 who have come home this way in flag-draped coffins, each one ... was a son or a daughter, not cannon fodder to be used so recklessly," Sheehan told the crowd.
After the names of some of the dead soldiers were read, the crowd sang "Amazing Grace" as people stepped forward to place flowers on the coffin.
Before the vigil, Gary Qualls, of Temple drove to Sheehan's camp site and removed a wooden cross bearing his son's name. He said he supports the war and disagrees with Sheehan. "I don't believe in some of the things happening here," Qualls said. "I find it disrespectful."