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California Mom Urges Attendance at Rally in Washington
Published on Monday, September 19, 2005 by New Haven Register
California Mom Urges Attendance at Rally in Washington
by Marissa Yaremich
NEW HAVEN, Connecticuit - There’s nothing brave about Cindy Sheehan’s decision to morph her grief about her military son’s death into a nationwide rally against President Bush to pull American troops out of Iraq.

"It doesn’t take any courage to do what I’m doing because I’m not afraid," Sheehan told about 800 antiwar protesters on the New Haven Green Sunday. Since then, Bush never acknowledged Sheehan’s presence with the personal discussion she sought to discuss his "noble cause" in Iraq.

However, in June 2004, Bush met at Fort Lewis, Wash., with Sheehan and other families of troops who had died in Iraq.

Determined to perpetuate "Camp Casey’s" message, Sheehan and other activists brought her message to the Elm City as part of a 51-city, 28-state, "Bring Them Home Now" bus tour. Their 25-day tour of duty culminates when Sheehan and her counterparts converge at the United for Peace and Justice Mobilization in Washington, D.C., Saturday.

To a captivated audience Sunday, Sheehan described courage as her son’s willingness to ignore his fear of battle in lieu of losing his life.

"He was sent to Iraq — he was sent to his death — by a man who was afraid to talk to me, a man who has no courage," said Sheehan.

Because of Bush’s resistance to meet with Sheehan, she noted that scores of Americans have become savvy, and consequently disgusted, by his administration’s war "lies" and policies.

"Thank you, George Bush, for not meeting with me, because now instead of having one person who wants answers, you have hundreds of thousands who want answers," she said to an eruption of applause.

Though Sheehan’s supporters flanked her nearly every side, a group of pro-war activists showed their disgust with her campaign.

Linda DeAntonio, of North Haven, said she is the proud military mom of an Iraq war veteran.

"I don’t like what she’s doing to the troops over there," DeAntonio said. Sheehan and her entourage, she added, "don’t understand how … they’re demoralizing the troops. It’s not fair (to the troops). It’s not fair to the men who have died."

Denying that she’d feel different if her son died in Iraq, DeAntonio said if her son and soldiers didn’t fight in Iraq and Afghanistan, "they’d be here fighting" terrorist attackers.

Others supporting DeAntonio’s pro-war stance came under fire from "Bring Them Home Now" tour member and Iraq veteran Cody Camacho of Chicago.

Pointing to his opposition’s protest sign, Camacho ridiculed its suggestion that all soldiers know what they’re signing up for when they enter the military.

"When I took the oath, I swore to defend America from (hostile forces) … both foreign and domestic," said Camacho, a member of one of the tour sponsors, Iraq Veterans Against the War.

Gold Star Families for Peace member Carlos Arredondo, of Roslindale, Mass., said it is time the antiwar masses bring their grief and distrust of the Bush administration to the government’s front door Saturday.

"We have to reinforce the promise Vietnam veterans made after Vietnam — never again," said Arredondo.

Upon learning of his soldier son’s death in Iraq in 2004, Arredondo made national headlines when his anguish led him to set a military van on fire and accidentally burn himself in the process.

Local peace activists were more than ready to heed the tour’s call. Greater New Haven Peace Council circulated a petition directed to U.S. Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro, D-3, to take immediate action to bring the troops home.

Connecticut United for Peace member Meg Scata also roused those to not only support Sheehan and the tour’s mission, but to motivate their friends, relatives, politicians and anyone who will take action against the war.

"We need to help this war stop, and we won’t stop until we get it done. Bring the troops home now. Bring them home now," Scata rallied. She said the coalition will hold a statewide antiwar rally to continue the cause Nov. 5 at Central Connecticut State University.

Military Families Speak Out member and Camp Casey participant Tammara Rosenleaf, of Helena, Mont., couldn’t have agreed more.

"War is about the protection of rights, and one of those rights is free speech. And it would be a damn poor reward (to stationed and veteran soldiers) if I didn’t exercise that right," said Rosenleaf, whose husband’s deployment to Iraq is scheduled in November.

Stephen Kobasa, spokesman for the coalition of the event’s local sponsors, said Sheehan’s visit is especially important since there has been a growing outpouring of antiwar sentiment from Elm City residents.

Many residents, he said, feel that every dollar spent on the war takes away from Americans’ right to funded health care, education and housing.

"I think they see in Cindy Sheehan a voice," Kobasa said.

Sheehan told the antiwar supporters that she won’t take any excuses for their absence during Saturday’s march on Washington, because it will only prolong the Bush administration’s "unjust" cause.

"If you don’t go, you’ll be sorry," she said before departing to New York City to continue the tour.

© New Haven Register 2005


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