Published on Monday, July 18, 2005 by CommonDreams.org
The Sounds of Hope
by Cindy Sheehan
you ever heard the sound of a mother screaming for her son?
ever heard the sound of a father holding back his cries?
ever heard the sound of taps played at your brother's grave?
ever heard the sound of a Nation Rocked to Sleep?
~ A Nation Rocked To Sleep/For Casey
The sounds my daughter wrote about in her inspired poem, so poignantly and amazingly a few weeks after her brother, my son, was killed in Iraq, have been repeated over and over again too many times since the criminal invasion/occupation of Iraq began in March of 2003.
These sounds are imprinted in my DNA. I will never, ever forget the night of April 4, 2004, when I found out that Casey had been killed. After what seemed an eternity, I finally began to wonder who or what was making those horrible screaming noises. Then I realized it was me. It couldn’t have been Casey’s father, because he was paralyzed in stunned silence holding the pair of pants he had been folding when the deliverers of death news arrived.
I will also never forget the day when we buried my sweet boy, my oldest son. I’ll never forget the playing of taps, or the violent, and in hindsight, thoughtless, volley of the 21-gun salute. If I live to be a very old lady and forget everything else, I will never forget when the general handed me the folded flag that had lain on Casey’s coffin, as his brother and sisters, standing behind me, sobbed.
The saddest thing about the obscene sounds of violence is that they never should have been heard in the first place. From Maine to California, and from Baghdad to Falluja, these dirges were unnecessary. In my travels, and from hundreds of emails, phone calls, and cards and letters, I am discovering that people who formerly supported the invasion of Iraq are withdrawing their support. I even believe that many of our fellow citizens who still support the ignominy of Iraq are doing so because they are clinging to the deceptions so desperately, because they want the deceptions to so be the truth. It will be painful to come to terms with supporting the lies of this administration. It will be painful to know that wholesale killing of innocent people occurred because you and so many others believed the betrayals, but acknowledging the mistake is the first step to correcting it. And believe me, acknowledging the mistake is not as painful as hearing those devastating sounds.
Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) has realized that he had been duped into supporting the invasion. I have spoken to him about his change of heart, and he is so sad that his wholehearted support of the administration helped cause so many good people to hear those gut wrenching sounds of grief. But he is going forward to do what he can to end this occupation as soon as possible. He has co-sponsored a bi-partisan bill (HRJ 55) with other Congressional leaders like Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) and Ron Paul (R-TX) to force our administration into a troop withdrawal beginning October 1, 2006. The bill is a good first step to ensuring that families here in America and all over the world do not have to suffer needless death in war. However, I would like the withdrawal to begin tomorrow, because I don't even want to try and imagine the sounds Casey heard before he died. I don't want to imagine the sound of the bullet strong enough to pierce the Kevlar coating on his helmet to rip through his skull. I don’t want to know the sounds of a mother in Iraq wailing for her entire family. These sounds need to stop immediately. It is time to bring our troops home.
The sound I do want to hear is the sound of a Nation Waking Up. I will rejoice to hear the sounds of the collective Mea Culpa and the beating of breasts. I want to hear the deafening clicks as the steady stream of news-o-tainment is turned off, propaganda that is turning us into zombies who are numb to the truth. I want to hear the sound of our children getting off planes and boats from Iraq to the joyful squealing of their children and the deep sighs of relief from their spouses, parents, and other loved ones. I want to hear our citizenry lifting up their voices in chorus and singing, "We will never let this happen again."