The rockets red glare,
Bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night
That our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that
Star spangled banner yet wave,
O'er the land of the free,
And the home of the brave.
The star spangled banner has been in the news quite a lot lately. Some "courageous" Senators, including one of my own, Dianne Feinstein and everyone's favorite left-wing liberal, Hillary Clinton, bravely stuck their necks out to support an amendment that would make it illegal to burn the flag of the USA under certain circumstances.
Heaven forbid one of these pussillanimous public servants introduce, or even support a bill, that would call for an immediate end to the occupation of Iraq…or to even require that the President set a timeline for the withdrawal of our troops from a deadly quagmire of an occupation while they are handing him more money to wage the war crime in Iraq. As our nation's children are trying to only survive in the worst of circumstances, and by surviving are committing reprehensible atrocities on an innocent population which (especially in Ramadi right now) is having bombs burst in air all around them, that our Senate would even consider taking away first amendment rights from Americans is wretchedly ironic. Call me naïve, but I always thought that we elected our representatives to protect our rights, not take them away from us.
When I look at the star spangled banner I think of my son who began wearing a uniform with the flag on it from the time he went into scouting at the age of 6. I also think of one of the last pictures taken of Casey when he was awaiting deployment to Iraq from Kuwait. He was standing in a tent holding a bottle of water, wearing his desert cammies with an American flag patch on the chest. When we buried him a few weeks after that picture was taken, I was handed a folded flag which reminded me of the swaddling blanket that I wrapped him in to bring him home from the hospital almost 25 years before.
The star-spangled banner, which I can now see whipping in the wind outside of an airport terminal where I am writing this from does not fill me with pride: it fills me with shame and that flag symbolizes sorrow and corruption to me right now. The flag represents so much lying, fixed elections, profiting by the war machine, high gas prices, spying on Americans, rapid erosion of our freedoms while BushCo literally gets away with murder, torture and extreme rendition, contaminating the world with depleted uranium, and illegal and immoral wars that are responsible for killing so many. A symbol which used to represent hope to so many around the world now fills so many with disgust.
When I look at that rectangular piece of cloth that has red and white stripes and white stars on a blue field, I wonder what the Iraqi people think when they see American tanks and other vehicles rumbling through their streets carrying doom with that symbol emblazoned upon them. Or, what could our flag possibly represent to them when their women are being raped and burned to conceal crimes and entire families are being killed by soldiers whose uniforms carry that symbol? I am sure that the flag symbolizes death and destruction to them which I hope they are not confusing with freedom and democracy.
I often get told that I should "love America, or leave it." This is ridiculous logic and empty rhetoric. I love the country that I was born in and I love Americans…I am an American and so are my children. Casey was born and died a fine American who was abused by the same leaders that are abusing the world as I type. I could leave if I wanted to and, in fact, have received many offers to be an ex-patriate in many friendly countries. However, I want to stay and fight for my country. I want my country and the flag that symbolizes it around the globe to stand for something that we can all be proud of again.
BushCo and the neocon regime embarked on this disastrous misadventure in Iraq to prove to the world how strong and virile Pax Americana is. Their abjectly failed mission, which was evil and corrupt from the beginning, has not proven how strong our nation is, but, on the contrary, how weak. However, the neocons have managed to prove, that how, with the "mightiest" war machine in the world an insurgency in a country smaller than the state of California can hold their false freedom and deadly democracy at bay. One other thing that the neocons have proven is that America is no longer the moral touchstone of the world but is a nation that commits torture and crimes against humanity with the presidential seal of approval. BushCo has destroyed any credibility our nation ever had in the world and all of us need to fight to regain it and thereby redeem our own souls.
I implore you, while you are enjoying your potato salad and fireworks on the 4th to reflect on what the star-spangled banner means to you. If our flag symbolizes the same thing to you as it does to the neocons, then by all means, enlist and go to Iraq to let some of our soldiers come home that are tired of suffering and committing war crimes for Halliburton, Dick and Donny.
If, however, you realize that the flag no longer waves "o'er the land of the free" and you would like it to again, we invite you to come out to Camp Casey this summer and help us fight for the heart and soul of our nation. If you realize that while you are "oohing and ahing" over the pretty fireworks in your home town that there are real bombs bursting on the people of Iraq, killing them and destroying their nation for no reason other than Dick Cheney wanted to, then you need to digest your 4th of July BBQ and get out and show Dicky and the world that we mean business when we say we want our troops to come home to save them and our brothers and sisters in Iraq.
Thousands of peace loving and war hating members of the human race from all over the world are planning on coming to Crawford, Tx to Camp Casey again this summer to stand, sit, or camp in the face of the neocon war machine and prove to the world that there are Americans who will courageously speak for the people of Iraq and our soldiers who have no voices but who just want to be left in peace.
Come to Camp Casey.
We have room for everyone and everyone is welcome.
Cindy Sheehan is the mother of Spc. Casey Austin Sheehan who was killed in Iraq on April 04, 2004; Founder and President of Gold Star Families for Peace (www.GSFP.org) and author of Not One More Mother's Child. Cindy is also the very proud mother of Carly, Andy, and Janey Sheehan who hold down the fort in Vacaville, California.