First, I want to give my little story about Lynne. Of course, you all have read To Kill a Mockingbird. Lynne is my human Atticus Finch. He did what he knew was right, but wasn't popular. And that's what Lynne is doing. (applause)
We are not waging a war on terror in this country. We're waging a war of terror. The biggest terrorist in the world is George W. Bush. (applause)
How many more people are we going to let him kill before we stop him? I'm going to talk about free speech and recruitment. Do you know that it costs $66,000 to recruit one recruit? That's continuing all of their - you know, the recruiter's salary, the recruiter's bonus, the place that they rent to recruit and things like that. All the perks they get and everything. That's not even training the recruit. It costs our government about $6,000 a year on each child in California. $46,000 a year to house a prisoner in our state. Our priorities are seriously screwed up, as I mentioned.
I really want to thank you guys for doing this, especially the young people. It gives me so much hope to know that there's young people who care more about who's our next American Idol - less about that. You guys care more about people being killed. There's too many that care more about the next American Idol. Too many people in our country that don't even really know we have a war going on. You know, they never have to think of the war, and I'll never, ever forget this war. I can never forget it, even when I'm sleeping (tears) I know that we're in a war and I know that George Bush and his band of neo-cons and their neo-con agenda killed my son. And I'll never, ever, ever forget.
I take responsibility partly for my son's death, too. I was raised in a country by a public school system that taught us that America was good, that America was just. America has been killing people, like my sister over here says, since we first stepped on this continent, we have been responsible for death and destruction. I passed on that bullshit to my son and my son enlisted. I'm going all over the country telling moms: "This country is not worth dying for. If we're attacked, we would all go out. We'd all take whatever we had. I'd take my rolling pin and I'd beat the attackers over the head with it. But we were not attacked by Iraq. (applause) We might not even have been attacked by Osama bin Laden if (applause). 9/11 was their Pearl Harbor to get their neo-con agenda through and, if I would have known that before my son was killed, I would have taken him to Canada. I would never have let him go and try and defend this morally repugnant system we have. The people are good, the system is morally repugnant. (applause)
Please - teach your babies, teach your babies better than I taught my babies. When Congress gave George Bush the right to go to war, they abrogated their constitutional responsibilities and they basically made our constitution null and void. We have no checks and balances in this country. We have no recourse. If they're going to what they did to Lynne, they don't have backs they call names, what we need to be is, we the people, we're their checks and balances. We're the only checks and balances. We have to stand up and say, Not only is this our school, this is our country. We want our country back and, if we have to impeach everybody from George Bush down to the person who picks up dog shit in Washington, we will impeach all those people. Our country needs to (unintelligible) we need to start over again.
I just want to say that you students, Students Against War, you have all my support and all my organization's support. I told Kristen if you have any actions and you need a ringleader, that I only live about an hour away. I'll be here. If I can sleep on somebody's floor, we can have this, we can camp out, do whatever we need.
And I just want to way to George Bush and I want to say to the people who are here, that are still sheep (unintelligible) and following him blindly: if George Bush believes his rhetoric and his bullshit, that this is a war for freedom and democracy, that he is spreading freedom and democracy, does he think every person he kills makes Iraq more free? It doesn't make us more free. It damages our humanity. The whole world is damaged. Our humanity is damaged. If he thinks that it's so important for Iraq to have a U.S.-imposed sense of freedom and democracy, then he needs to sign up his two little party-animal girls. They need to go this war. They need to fight because a just war, the definition of a just war, and maybe you people here who still think this is a just war, the definition of a just war is one that you would send your own children to die in. That you would go die in yourself. And you aren't willing to send your own children, or if you're not willing to go die yourself, then you bring there rest of our kids home now. It is despicable what they're doing. (applause)
What they're saying, too, is like, it's okay for Israel to have nuclear weapons. But Iran or Syria better not get nuclear weapons. It's okay for the United States to have nuclear weapons. It's okay for the countries that we say it's okay for. We are waging a nuclear war in Iraq right now. That country is contaminated. It will be contaminated for practically eternity now. It's okay for them to have them, but Iran or Syria can't have them. It's okay for Israel to occupy Palestine, but it's - yeah - and it's okay for Iraq to occupy - I mean, for the United States to occupy Iraq, but it's not okay for Syria to be in Lebanon. They're a bunch of fucking hypocrites! And we need to, we just need to rise up. We need a revolution and make it be peaceful and make it be loving and let's just show them all the love we have for humanity because we want to stop the inhumane slaughter.
It's so great to be here.
Last year when you guys had your convention in Boston, my son had only been dead a few months, and we were really honored because the Santa Barbara chapter took my daughter's poem A Nation Rocked to Sleep, (and they did it again this year), and I remember Michael Cervantes, he brought the booklet over to our house and showed it to us, and I never dreamed in a year I'd be standing here in front of you as one of the speakers at your convention, I never dreamed I'd be doing this at all, but isn't it weird what life hands you.
I never heard about Veterans for until, I can tell you the exact day I heard about VFP, it was May 4th, 2004, and my son had been dead exactly a month, and I was watching CNN, and something came on, it was a report on Arlington West in Santa Barbara, and we lived about 6 hours north of Santa Barbara, and it was the May 4th before Mother's Day, which was May 8th, and VFP was going to put it up on Sunday, every Sunday, so I called my husband and I said, "There's only one place I want to be on Mother's Day this year, I want to be at Santa Barbara. I want to go and see Arlington West."
When we went, the first time we went, there was a little over 700 crosses, now there's over 1,800 crosses.
And I'm glad to hear everybody else's words, because somebody's gotta stop those lying bastards. Somebody has to stop them.
I got an email yesterday - - If you guys heard I just had a story published that talks about - - it's called Where Do I Live?, it talks about an Iranian-American who got the shaft because a recruiter liked him, and the recruiter falsified his paperwork, so he ended up in prison.
He's been in prison since November without due process.
Another mother whose son was found dead in Iraq, they told her that he died from a drug overdose. Three months later, they got the toxicology report; no drugs. She was devastated, she said, "I know my son, he did not do drugs." She was told that her son's wife and his battle buddies said in a report that yes, her son abused drugs in Iraq. But when she got that report it said categorically that no, he did not abuse drugs. So how did her son die?
And then there's Kevin and Monica Benderman. Kevin did exactly the right thing and got 15 months in prison. Whereas like Dahr said, the war criminals in Washington, D.C., they don't even lose a night's sleep.
Then we have this lying bastard, George Bush, taking a 5-week vacation in a time of war. You know what? I'm never going to get to enjoy another vacation, because of him.
My vacation probably - -this is really sad because I have a really cute dress I was going to wear to the banquet tomorrow night, but I'm either gonna be in jail or in a tent in Crawford, waiting until that jerk comes out and tells me why my son died.
Anyway, I got an email, I kinda got off track, a man emailed me yesterday, I get contacted by all kinds of people with their stories, and he said Cindy, I read everything you write, I read it on LewRockwell.com, he said, "I get tears in my eyes, but today I cried real tears, and I screamed, because my dear sweet nineteen ear-old cousin was killed in Iraq."
And he said, "Cindy, why didn't I save him? Why didn't I knock him out, why didn't I take him to Canada?" and I wrote him back and I said, "You know what? We all think that."
I said to my son not to go. I said, you know it's wrong, you know you're going over there. You know your unit might have to kill innocent people, you know you might die. And he says, "My buddies are going, I have to go." He said, "If I don't go someone's going to have to do my job, and my buddies will be in danger."
So what really gets me is these chickenhawks, who sent our kids to die, without ever serving in a war themselves. They don't know what it's all about.
30 of our bravest young men have already died this month, and it's only the 5th of August. And the tragedy of the marines in Ohio is awful.
But do you guys remember back in March when we were having our 2nd year anniversary of the invasion of Iraq which was pre-empted by Terry Schiavo, so that's all that was on the news, not 5,000 of us in Fayetteville, Wolf Blitzer said it was insignificant, but they put Terry Schiavo on, and I wrote something then called The Amazing Hypocrites and I asked why does she deserve life more than my son, and the Iraqi people? And more than the other people that this war has killed.
But do you think George Bush will interrupt his vacation and go visit the families of those 20 marines that have died in Ohio this week? No, because he doesn't care, he doesn't have a heart. That's not enough to stop his little playing cowboy' game in Crawford for 5 weeks.
So, as you can imagine, the grieving parents who lost - - lost, I don't like to use that word, whose child was murdered, it's extremely difficult, you can't even get a small scab on our wound, because every day it rips open. Every day, I don't know why I do it because I already know that war is ugly, I already know that war is hard. But I open up the DOD site to see, who became an angel, while I was sleeping.
And that rips my heart open, because I know there is another mother whose life is going to be ruined that day. So we can't even begin to heal.
So anyway that filth-spewer and warmonger, George Bush was speaking after the tragedy of the marines in Ohio, he said a couple things that outraged me.
Seriously outraged me.
And I know I don't look like I'm outraged, I'm always so calm and everything, that's because if I started hitting something, I wouldn't stop til it was dead. So I can't even start, cause I know how dangerous that would be, but George Bush was talking, and he never mentioned the terrible incident of those marines, but he did say, that the families of the ones who have been killed can rest assured that their loved ones died for a noble cause.
And, he also said, he says this often, and this really drives me crazy, he said that we have to stay in Iraq and complete the mission, to honor the sacrifices of the ones who have fallen.
And I say, why should I want one more mother to go through what I've gone through, because my son is dead. You know what, the only way he can honor my son's sacrifice is to bring the rest of the troops home. To make my son's death count for peace and love, and not war and hatred like he stands for.
I don't want him using my son's death or my family's sacrifice to continue the killing. I don't want him to exploit the honor of my son and others to continue the killing. They sent these honorable people to die, and are so dishonorable themselves.
So, as many of you have heard, and I didn't mean to cause any problems with the convention, but I was writing an email to everybody, and I was so mad, like I said, and I just had this brainstorm, I'm going to Dallas, I don't know where Crawford is. I've been in Texas, Casey was stationed at Fort Hood. I drove from northern California to Fort Hood one time, it took like, 30 hours. And I thought, I could be driving for days to get from Dallas to Crawford!
But I don't care, I'm goin'. And I'm gonna tell them, "You get that evil maniac out here, cuz a Gold Star Mother, somebody who's blood is on his hands, has some questions for him."
And I'm gonna say, "OK, listen here, George. #1, you quit, and I demand, every time you get out there and say you're going to continue the killing in Iraq to honor the fallen heroes by continuing the mission; you say, except Casey Sheehan.'"
"And you say except for all the members of Goldstar Families for Peace' cuz we think not one drop of blood should be spilled in our families' names. You quit doing that. You don't have my permission."
And I'm gonna say, "And you tell me, what the noble cause is that my son died for." And if he even starts to say freedom and democracy' I'm gonna say, bullshit.
You tell me the truth. You tell me that my son died for oil. You tell me that my son died to make your friends rich. You tell me my son died to spread the cancer of Pax Americana, imperialism in the Middle East. You tell me that, you don't tell me my son died for freedom and democracy.'
Cuz, we're not freer. You're taking away our freedoms. The Iraqi people aren't freer, they're much worse off than before you meddled in their country.
You get America out of Iraq, you get Israel out of Palestine
(massive round of applause)
And if you think I won't say bullshit to the President, I say move on, cuz I'll say what's on my mind.
So, what's gonna happen? I started this, I thought it was gonna be just me and my sister driving to Crawford, but it kind of mushroomed and people from as far away as Dayton, Ohio are coming, to help us, to stand behind us, because I travel all over the country, I speak, I write, I get feedback on my writing, and just in the little over a year that I've been doing this, I've seen a major turnaround in this country.
People don't just want to hear it, they want to know, what can we do?
What can we do to get him out of power? And I'm gonna say the I' word. Impeach. And we have to have everybody impeached that lied to the American public, and that's the executive branch, and any people in congress, and we gotta go all the way down and we might have to go all the way down to the person who picks up the dogshit in Washington because
We can't let somebody rise to the top who will pardon these war criminals. Because they need to go to prison for what they've done in this world. We can't have a pardon. They need to pay for what they've done.
So anyway, I'm gonna go to Crawford tomorrow, and I'm gonna say I want to talk to him, and they say, he's not coming out, I'm gonna set up my tent there until he comes out to talk to me.
And I have the whole month of August off, just like him. It's just the way it worked out, I was supposed to go to England tomorrow to do some Downing Street things, but Conyers cancelled, so hey, I have a lot of free time on my hands, and I'm gonna stay until he comes out and talks to me. And if he quits his vacation and goes to D.C., I'll pull my tent up, I'll go to D.C., and put it on the White House lawn, and I'll be waiting for you guys when you get there September 24th.
Another thing that I'm doing is - - my son was killed in 2004, so I'm not paying my taxes for 2004. If I get a letter from the IRS, I'm gonna say, you know what, this war is illegal; this is why this war is illegal. This war is immoral; this is why this war is immoral. You killed my son for this. I don't owe you anything. And if I live to be a million, I won't owe you a penny.
And I want them to come after me, because unlike what you've been doing with the war resistance, I want to put this frickin' war on trial. And I want to say, "You give me my son, and I'll pay your taxes."
I live in Vacaville, come and get me if you can find me there and put me on trial, because like Camilo (Mejia), Camilo knew what was right. And he went to prison for that. And Henry David Thoreau he went to prison, he refused to pay his poll tax, and Emerson, I call them HT and RW, and RW came to visit HT and said what are you doing here, buddy? And HT said, why aren't you here? This is the only place for a moral person in an immoral world.
It's up to us, the people, to break immoral laws, and resist. As soon as the leaders of a country lie to you, they have no authority over you. These maniacs have no authority over us. And they might be able to put our bodies in prison, but they can't put our spirits in prison. And I know that Camilo came out a much stronger person, he's one of my heroes, it's great a row of heroes in front of me here.
And everyone gave such great testimony this evening, I have to wonder, why do we keep doing this to each other? Why do we let this continue time and time again, why do let it happen? And it's because our country, is so good at demonizing people, I still have relatives from WWII that still call Japanese people Japs'. And we demonize the Iraqi people, where, most of this country doesn't even think we're killing innocent people.
Because, "Oh Cindy, don't you remember what happened on September 11th?"
"Yeah, but, were any of those people in Iraq? And the people who flew those planes into the Trade Center, where they from Iraq?"
When I was growing up, it was Communists'. Now it's Terrorists'. So you always have to have somebody to fight and be afraid of, so the war machine can build more bombs, guns, and bullets and everything.
But I do see hope. I see hope in this country. 58% of the American public are with us. We're preaching to the choir, but the choir's not singing, if all of the 58% started singing, this war would end.
I got an email the other day and it said, "Cindy, if you didn't use so much profanity there's people on the fence' that get offended"
And you know what I said? "You know what? You know what, god-damn-it? How, in the world is anybody still sitting on that fence'?"
"If you fall on the side that is pro-George, and pro-war, you get your ass over to Iraq, and take the place of somebody who wants to come home. And if you fall on the side that is against this war and against George Bush, stand up and speak out."
But whatever side you fall on, quit being on the fence.
The opposite of good is not evil, it's apathy. And we have to get this country off their butts, and we have to get the choir singing.
We need to say, bring our troops home now.
We can't depend on the people in charge bringing our troops home.
Because you don't plan on bringing the troops home when you drop so much of the reconstruction money into building permanent bases.
I was hoping to come to the banquet tomorrow night, but unless George comes out and talks to me, I'll be camping at Crawford.
Hi. Isn't she amazing? (applause) Do you guys mind if I sit down too? This has been a pretty amazing day. Oops, did I do that. Oh, okay. I was watching Jon Stewart the other night. I haven't watched TV for a long time and he had Chris Wallace on from Fox News, I think, and they were talking about what's happening out here and they were talking about well Cindy's gone, her mom had a stroke, and then they said that Joan Baez gave a concert last night and Jon Stewart said, "Well apparently they are trying to stop Vietnam." You know and that kind of offended me because maybe if we had really stopped Vietnam, Iraq wouldn't have happened (applause). You know we, I think it was such a long struggle that after Vietnam, I'm not going to take any credit or blame for this because I was really young, it was just like well we got our troops out now we don't have to make sure they never do this to our kids again. And I am going to make sure that after our troops are brought home from Iraq, and they will be brought back, that we're going to keep the Camp Casey movement going and we're gonna make sure that our kids are never sent to fight a war for power and greed. (applause)
I'm thinking, I'm thinking probably, probably the country is kind of going to take me at my word from now on. They are going to know that I'm not going to give up and today was really hard when I came in and saw Casey bigger than life over there. I miss him so much and I miss him more every day, but like that song "Joe Hill," Casey's not dead. I see him in all of your eyes and Casey will never die. And they can kill the body, but they can't kill the love and the spirit, and no matter how hard they try they can't do that.
I want to tell you a little bit about Casey because this whole movement is because of him and because of the others that have sacrificed themselves. The hardest thing for me to hear, I don't care about them talking about me being a crackpot or a media whore, or a tool of the left, you know. I'm like if I truly was a media whore do you think I would like maybe get myself fixed up a little bit before I went on? That doesn't bother me at all, but what bothers me so much is when they say I am dishonoring my son's memory by what I'm doing, that my son would be ashamed of me or what they really like to say is that I'm pissing, or shitting, or spitting on his grave. And look what Casey, look what Casey has started. You know, I'm here because of Casey, we're all here because of Casey and you know literally there is, there is over 2000 of our brave young people and tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis and I know they are behind us, and I see them, all their faces on your faces.
But Casey was such a gentle kind loving person. He never even got in one fist fight his whole life. Nobody even hated him enough to punch him let alone kill him, and that's what George Bush did. He put our kids in another person's country and Casey was killed by insurgents. He wasn't killed by terrorists. He was killed by Shiite militia who wanted him out of the country, when Casey was told he was going to be welcomed with chocolate and flowers as a liberator. Well, the people of Iraq saw it differently. They saw him as an occupier.
Casey, I want you guys to know about him. You guys know he was an altar boy for 10 years. You guys know he was an eagle scout. You guys know he was an honor student. You guys know he was a very brave person who was scared out of his mind on April 4th, but he went anyway because he said, "Where my chief goes, I go." But you don't know the little boy. He used to come up behind me. He used to wrap his arms around my legs. He'd kiss me on the butt and he'd say, "I wuv you mama." And if he wasn't doing that, he'd walk by and he'd go "dinus ha mama" and that meant, "What are you doing mama?" Every night we'd put him to bed. Every night he would say, "Thank you Mom. This was the best day of my life."
There are a couple of funny stories. Once when he wasn't even 2 it was Easter Sunday and we were all at mass and we were all jammed into one pew, you know there was a bunch of us and the church was full, and we were standing up and we sang the "Lamb of God." We were Catholic and we went to kneel down, and as soon as we knelt down Casey stood up on one of the kneelers and at the top of his voice he goes, "I'm Popeye the sailor man," and everybody in the whole church was cracking up, and so from then on people at our church called him "Popeye." They'd go, "Hey there goes Popeye."
And another cute story was when he was in kindergarten he went to the Catholic school where we went to church and he went to afternoon so we couldn't pull in the parking lot, so we'd have to drive around looking for a place to park. So we were driving around one time and he goes, "Oh mama there's a place," and I said "Oh honey we can't park there it's handicapped," and he goes "Oh, we're not handicapped we're Catholic."
And then, he thought there were only two religions in the world and you guys might know for those of you who grew up Catholic, it's Catholic and public. They thought that those were the two religions. When Casey?in his rebellious years?when we told him something he didn't agree with or whatever, this was the extent of his talking back to us, "thssst." You know seriously this kid was just, just an amazing person and we were so shocked when he joined the Army.
I mean, that would have been the last thing we would have expected from Casey, but also the first thing because he always wanted to help. He always wanted to serve. He thought he was giving something back to his country and community, also having been lied to by his recruiter. So, then for my boy to be killed in a war – I don't know if you moms did the same thing, but when I would nurse him I would promise him I would never let him go to war, you know, and I broke that promise to him.
So this is the boy who they say I'm dishonoring by what I do and I know when I get up with Casey, like he went there first before me. When I get up, he's gonna say, "Good job Mom." (applause) He's not going to say, he's not going to say, "Why'd you make me spin in my grave," you know. And I can just hear him saying "George Bush you are really an idiot. You didn't know what you were doing when you killed me. You didn't know what you were getting into." And I'm sure Casey's up there with Ken and all the others and they're just going, "Wow, did these guys have moms? They didn't know that this was going to happen when they killed us?"
You know, so Casey, he wanted to get married, everybody thought he would be a priest, but he told me "Mom I want to have a family. I want to get married," and he wanted to be a deacon in the Catholic Church which you can be and be a married person too, and he was told he could be a chaplain's assistant in the army and when he got there they said, you know, "Well, psych is full; you have to be a cook or a humvee mechanic," so he became a humvee mechanic.
He wanted to be an elementary school teacher. He loves kids. He loved animals. He was a very good big brother to Andy, Karly and Janey. And his murder has left a hole in our hearts and in our family, and it's never going to be replaced. No matter how many wonderful people I meet, how many boys that call me "mom," they're not Casey.
He used to call me every day from Ft. Hood. I miss that. And Karen knows like probably for almost a year after he was killed every time the phone rang I'd think, "Oh that's Casey." And so it just like hits you about 50 times a day that you're never going to talk to them, or see them again. And that's why I do what I do, because I can't bear the thought of another mother having to go through the pain that I'm going through. And that's the only reason I do it. So that's what we're here for. We're here because we want to make it so our kids, their deaths stand for peace and love, and this is what is at Camp Casey. And you know some people are saying, "Oh what are guys trying to do, recreate the sixties?" Oh yeah, peace and love is a really bad thing. You know it's been something that's been missing in our country for decades and I'm not ashamed, you know, I'm not ashamed to say that this is a place where you can come and feel loved. You know this is the place where the end of the occupation of Iraq started. This is the place where America comes to say, "We've had enough - enough. You might be able to lie to Congress. You might be able to lie to the media, but you're not lying to us anymore." And this is it, this is where it's going to begin and we're not going stop today, we're not going to stop on the 31st. We're not going stop ever, ever. We will make sure that this keeps on going. We won't have a war, another war, in 30 or 40 years, where we'll be saying, "Oh this is another Iraq." You know, no, it's not going to ever happen again. It's not going to just be me. It's going to be me with the millions of people who are behind us, making sure that that will happen. And you know when this is going to stop? This is going to stop when the mothers say, "No, I'm not giving my son, I'm not giving my son to you so you can kill him to line your pockets," and that's when it's going to stop.
I felt this a lot of times before when Casey was born. I looked in his eyes and it looked like he could tell what I was thinking. That's very disarming when you have like a week old baby looking at you and you know he knows what you're thinking. And I knew he was going to be a great man. I just had no idea how great he was going to be or how much it was going to hurt me. So, thank you Casey and thank you Ken and thank you all the others, and I know that they are in heaven and I know that that's why this movement is growing because we have tens of thousands of angels behind us that are supporting us, that are saying, "Well you know we died and that was really crappy, but we hope that our deaths are going to make the world a better place," and it's up to us to make sure that it does. Thank you.