|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AUGUST 17, 2005
CONTACT: Institute for Public Accuracy
Voices from Crawford
CRAWFORD, Texas - August 17 -
Celeste Zappala and her son Dante have just returned from Crawford to their home in Philadelphia. Celeste's eldest son, Sgt. Sherwood Baker, was the first Pennsylvania National Guardsman to die in combat since World War II. He was killed in action in Baghdad on April 26, 2004, while searching for weapons of mass destruction. She and Dante had an op-ed in Sunday's edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer titled "Dust Devils and Grief in Crawford."
Video of Celeste Zappala and Cindy Sheehan, who are co-founders of Gold Star Families for Peace, is available at: Grace at Camp Casey and MeetWithCindy.org.
LINDA and PHIL WASTE
[They are among the military families opposing the war who have joined the protests in Crawford. They can be reached via Ryan Fletcher, Nancy Lessin (founder of Military Families Speak Out).
Porchia is from Arkansas. Her son, Army Reservist Private 1st Class Jonathan Cheatham, was killed in action in Baghdad on July 26, 2003. More information is available at: MilitaryCity.com, Intervention Magazine.
Georgia residents Linda and Phil Waste have three sons and two grandchildren (a grandson and a granddaughter) who are active-duty military. Together, they have already spent a total of over 57 months on tours of duty in Iraq. Several of these children and grandchildren are currently serving in Iraq, and have served extended and multiple deployments. Linda Waste said: "When this war started, we supported it. And we are here to support our troops. But our feeling is our troops are in Iraq under false pretense and they need to come home." Statements from them and other families are available at: Military Families Speak Out.
Currently in Crawford, Anderson is a veteran of the Iraq war and is now Southeast regional coordinator for Iraq Veterans Against the War. He said today about the destruction of the small, white wooden crosses hand-painted with the names of soldiers killed in Iraq: "Five of my friends are represented by these crosses." [Background]
Anderson added: "We should not be calling it 'Operation Iraqi Freedom.' We did displace a brutal dictator, but now women have less freedom than before. The child malnutrition rate has doubled, 60 percent of Iraqis don't have clean drinking water. We've been awarding contracts to U.S. companies when clearly the Iraqis could have done the job right themselves. They could have been employed, but we chose instead to make U.S. companies rich off Iraqi misfortune."
Hamdani is the mother of Mohammad Salman Hamdani, who was a New York City police cadet killed in the World Trade Center attack on 9/11. Now in Crawford, she said: "When I heard about Cindy Sheehan and her experience, I said to myself: Here is another mother who is traveling the road I have been traveling since 9/11/2001. I could feel her anguish and the agony of a son being snatched from her by the bloody hands of an immoral war. I wanted to be there to comfort and also support, since we have a mutual cause. Violence, revenge and murder are not a solution to violence. I lost my son at the hands of the terrorists' attacks; Cindy lost her son in the line of duty. Cindy is expressing concerns I had expressed after 9/11 happened. Our loss is mutual: we both lost our eldest son in the name of liberty. ... I feel as though Cindy's son's blood is on my hands, since that's what the policy makers are saying: we went to war to avenge 9/11 terrorist attacks. We all know this is a lie."
A veteran of the Vietnam War and spokesperson for Veterans for Peace, Grant is currently in Crawford. He said today: "I've been to Iraq twice -- so I have a sense of the place, I think it's an absolute disaster what we're doing there, we're a provocative force. ... The reason I respect Cindy so much is that she doesn't care about those trying to diminish her and what she's doing. She's a mother who lost her son and she wants real answers -- we all want answers."