Published on
the Montgomery Advertiser (Alabama)

Sheehan's Alabama Visit Inflames Passions

Andre Coe

Former Marine Sgt. Philip Mitchell saw something Thursday he wishes he hadn't seen.

A group of about 30 protesters gathered that evening in Old Cloverdale across the street from the Capri Theatre in support of a rally led by anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan.0713 07

"Why (come to) Alabama? It's the reddest of the red states," Sheehan said. "We can't stay in the blue states always preaching to the choir. We can't do that. ... We need to come where we can make the biggest impact."

Sheehan began her 17-city "Summer of Love '07" tour in Crawford, Texas, on Tuesday and chose Montgomery as its fourth stop en route to a planned July 29 conclusion in New York's Central Park.

Mitchell looked on from a distance with his arms folded. He served in the Marine Corps from 2000 to 2004.

Sheehan is making a mockery of men and women like him who served, he said.

"If I died over there and my mother did this, I would roll over in my grave," Mitchell said. "But I understand, everybody has the right to protest. This is America. That's what we fight for."

During her speech, Sheehan called for the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. Bush lied America's way into the war in Iraq and botched relief efforts for Hurricane Katrina, she said. Plus, he has been spying on the American public, she accused.

"If Congress isn't for impeaching George Bush, they are spineless," she said.

Sheehan has vowed to run against U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., if the lawmaker does not make impeaching Bush a priority within the next 10 days. Sheehan said she would run as an independent if the time comes.

Sheehan gained international fame in 2005 when she camped outside the president's Crawford ranch for nearly a month. She wanted to ask Bush directly why her son died in what she felt was a senseless war. The president never came outside to speak with her, but two years later she is still looking for that answer.

After listening to Sheehan, Mitchell questioned her true intent.

"If her son had not died in Iraq, would she be doing what she's doing? I'm not talking bad because we fought for these freedoms, but would she be doing this?"

Asked whether her efforts made a mockery of American servicemen and women, Sheehan provided an emphatic response.

"How many of us (here) are former members of the service?" she asked. Many hands went into the air.

"It's (Bush and Cheney) that are making a mockery of our service," she said.

Moments later a man wearing a tall hat adorned with an image of the American flag drove by in a convertible Volkswagen and honked his horn.

On the vehicle's side was a sign: "Warning, Sheehan is nuts."

Anti-war demonstrator Ken Baker of Montgomery brought his own American flag.

"The flag belongs to all of us," Baker said, "not just people who are pro-war."

Sheehan's tour will make its next planned stop today in Fort Benning, Ga.

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