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!225px-57278.jpg!About the project:

The Cindy Sheehan Cantata is a musical reenactment/reinterpretation of a speech given in Union Square, New York City on September 19, 2005 by Cindy Sheehan, the mother of an American soldier who was killed in Iraq.

After camping outside President Bush's ranch in Texas to protest the war, Sheehan went on a national speaking tour. When she was speaking at a protest in Union Square in New York City on September 19. 2005, the police shut her down because she didn't have a permit for amplification (this is a tactic the police uses to censor protest speech in Union Square). The Cindy Sheehan Cantata re-stages Sheehan's speech as a musical performance delivered by an a cappella group. This project has three primary goals: to transform Sheehan's speech into performance art; to draw attention to the political censorship that is taking place in Union Square; and to support the anti-war movement.

Cindy Sheehan:

Cindy Sheehan became a prominent anti-Iraq War activist after the death of her 24 year-old son, Casey Sheehan, during his service in Iraq. On April 4, 2004, Casey was killed in action, along with several other soldiers, after volunteering as part of an operation to aid other American troops.

Sheehan is a 43 year-old resident of Berkeley, California and a lifelong Democrat. Compelled by her son's death to speak out against what she felt to be an unjust war, she began organizing a campaign to end the occupation and hold political leaders accountable. In August of 2005, she created Camp Casey, a peace camp outside Bush's ranch near Crawford Texas, and refused to leave for five weeks (the duration of the President's vacation at the ranch).

The Bring Them Home Now Tour, a traveling protest against the Iraq War culminating in a rally in Washington, D.C. in September 2005, was inspired by and featured Sheehan as a speaker at many rallies. She has joined the anti-war movement in Britain and marched with anti-globalization activists in Venezuela.

At the 2006 State of the Union Address, Sheehan was forcefully removed for donning a t-shirt that read: "2,245 dead. How many more?" In March, she was arrested in front of the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in New York during a protest by American and Iraqi women against the war.

Due to her efforts, Sheehan has received the labels "Peace Mom" and "the Rosa Parks of the antiwar movement." Sheehan continues to take part in peace demonstrations worldwide by speaking about her experience. She is planning a hunger strike for July 4th and will release her memoir titled "Peace Mom: A Mother's Journey Through Heartache to Activism" in September.

Sheehan's antiwar speech in Union Square cut short by the NYPD:

On September 19, 2005, Cindy Sheehan, the mother of an American soldier killed in Iraq, delivered an antiwar speech to a crowd of about 150 people on the steps of Union Square in New York. Her speech, primarily on behalf of parents and family members of fallen soldiers, called for the immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq.

Near the end of her speech, police officers rushed the podium. They arrested the organizer of the demonstration, Paul Zulkowitz, who also helped to set up Camp Casey NYC, an encampment in the park to show solidarity with Sheehan's camp-out in Crawford, Texas. Zulkowitz was arrested for failing to obtain a sound amplification permit.

Sheehan was whisked away from the scene by a few of her supporters and fellow activists, while the remaining crowd of about 50 people stormed the police, chanting, 'Shame! Shame!' As the police seized the microphone and other audio equipment, the claps and cheers that had greeted Sheehan's arrival at the rally quickly turned to furious chants of "Let her speak!"

Inspector Michael J. McEnroy, commander of the 13th Precinct, insisted the shutdown order had nothing to do with the content of Sheehan's speech, but was instead about the "provocation" caused by Zulkowitz.

Despite McEnroy's statement, it remains in question whether the interruption of the rally was, in fact, motivated more by the large, vocal audience and the "radical posturing" of some of the preceding speakers.

Adapted from:

Original lyrics of Sweet Child O' Mine:

She's got a smile that it seems to me
Reminds me of childhood memories
Where everything
Was as fresh as the bright blue sky
Now and then when I see her face
She takes me away to that special place
And if I'd stare too long
I'd probably break down and cry

Sweet child o' mine
Sweet love of mine

She's got eyes of the bluest skies

As if they thought of rain I hate to look into those eyes
And see an ounce of pain
Her hair reminds me of a warm safe place
Where as a child I'd hide
And pray for the thunder
And the rain
To quietly pass me by

Sweet child o' mine
Sweet love of mine

Where do we go
Where do we go now
Where do we go
Sweet child o' mine

Suggestions for the Cindy Sheehan Cantata:

  • Full version: Multiple verses, about 20 minutes in duration
  • Short version: About the length of a single (3-5 minutes)
  • The verses tell Sheehan's story
  • Refrain "Sweet child o' mine" stays the same

Definition of Cantata:

A musical composition for voice and instruments, often using a sacred text, and including choruses, solos, and recitatives.

Research Material:

Wikipedia main entry:

Wikipedia support/criticism entry:

Wikipedia Camp Casey:

Wikiquote entry:

Wikipedia Bring Them Home Now Tour:

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