"I see hope in
this country. Fifty-eight percent of the American people are with us. We're
preaching to the choir, but the choir's not singing. If all fifty-eight
percent started singing, this war would end."
Cindy Sheehan from her speech below.
Cindy Sheehan Address Veterans For Peace Convention, August 5, 2005
2005-08-08 David Swanson's diary, at
It's so great to be here.
Last year when you guys had your convention in Boston, my son had only been
dead a few months, and we were really honored because the Santa Barbara
chapter took my daughter's poem A Nation Rocked to Sleep, (and they
did it again this year), and I remember Michael Cervantes, he brought the
booklet over to our house and showed it to us, and I never dreamed in a year
I'd be standing here in front of you as one of the speakers at your
convention, I never dreamed I'd be doing this at all, but isn't it weird
what life hands you.
I never heard about Veterans for until, I can tell you the exact day I heard
about VFP, it was May 4th, 2004, and my son had been dead exactly a month,
and I was watching CNN, and something came on, it was a report on Arlington
West in Santa Barbara, and we lived about 6 hours north of Santa Barbara,
and it was the May 4th before Mother's Day, which was May 8th, and VFP was
going to put it up on Sunday, every Sunday, so I called my husband and I
said, "There's only one place I want to be on Mother's Day this year, I want
to be at Santa Barbara. I want to go and see Arlington West."
When we went, the first time we went, there was a little over 700 crosses,
now there's over 1,800 crosses.
And I'm glad to hear everybody else's words, because somebody's gotta stop
those lying bastards. Somebody has to stop them.
I got an email yesterday - - If you guys heard I just had a story published
that talks about - - it's called Where Do I Live?, it talks about an
Iranian-American who got the shaft because a recruiter liked him, and the
recruiter falsified his paperwork, so he ended up in prison.
He's been in prison since November without due process.
Another mother whose son was found dead in Iraq, they told her that he died
from a drug overdose. Three months later, they got the toxicology report; no
drugs. She was devastated, she said, "I know my son, he did not do drugs."
She was told that her son's wife and his battle buddies said in a report
that yes, her son abused drugs in Iraq. But when she got that report it said
categorically that no, he did not abuse drugs. So how did her son die?
And then there's Kevin and Monica Benderman. Kevin did exactly the right
thing and got 15 months in prison. Whereas like Dahr said, the war criminals
in Washington, D.C., they don't even lose a night's sleep.
Then we have this lying bastard, George Bush, taking a 5-week vacation in a
time of war. You know what? I'm never going to get to enjoy another
vacation, because of him.
My vacation probably - -this is really sad because I have a really cute
dress I was going to wear to the banquet tomorrow night, but I'm either
gonna be in jail or in a tent in Crawford, waiting until that jerk comes out
and tells me why my son died.
Anyway, I got an email, I kinda got off track, a man emailed me yesterday, I
get contacted by all kinds of people with their stories, and he said Cindy,
I read everything you write, I read it on
said, "I get tears in my eyes, but today I cried real tears, and I screamed,
because my dear sweet nineteen ear-old cousin was killed in Iraq."
And he said, "Cindy, why didn't I save him? Why didn't I knock him out, why
didn't I take him to Canada?" and I wrote him back and I said, "You know
what? We all think that."
I said to my son not to go. I said, you know it's wrong, you know you're
going over there. You know your unit might have to kill innocent people, you
know you might die. And he says, "My buddies are going, I have to go." He
said, "If I don't go someone's going to have to do my job, and my buddies
will be in danger."
So what really gets me is these chickenhawks, who sent our kids to die,
without ever serving in a war themselves. They don't know what it's all
30 of our bravest young men have already died this month, and it's only the
5th of August. And the tragedy of the marines in Ohio is awful.
But do you guys remember back in March when we were having our 2nd year
anniversary of the invasion of Iraq which was pre-empted by Terry Schiavo,
so that's all that was on the news, not 5,000 of us in Fayetteville, Wolf
Blitzer said it was insignificant, but they put Terry Schiavo on, and I
wrote something then called The Amazing Hypocrites and I asked why does she
deserve life more than my son, and the Iraqi people? And more than the other
people that this war has killed.
But do you think George Bush will interrupt his vacation and go visit the
families of those 20 marines that have died in Ohio this week? No, because
he doesn't care, he doesn't have a heart. That's not enough to stop his
little playing cowboy' game in Crawford for 5 weeks.
So, as you can imagine, the grieving parents who lost - - lost, I don't like
to use that word, whose child was murdered, it's extremely difficult, you
can't even get a small scab on our wound, because every day it rips open.
Every day, I don't know why I do it because I already know that war is ugly,
I already know that war is hard. But I open up the DOD site to see, who
became an angel, while I was sleeping.
And that rips my heart open, because I know there is another mother whose
life is going to be ruined that day. So we can't even begin to heal.
So anyway that filth-spewer and warmonger, George Bush was speaking after
the tragedy of the marines in Ohio, he said a couple things that outraged
Seriously outraged me.
And I know I don't look like I'm outraged, I'm always so calm and
everything, that's because if I started hitting something, I wouldn't stop
til it was dead. So I can't even start, cause I know how dangerous that
would be, but George Bush was talking, and he never mentioned the terrible
incident of those marines, but he did say, that the families of the ones who
have been killed can rest assured that their loved ones died for a noble
And, he also said, he says this often, and this really drives me crazy, he
said that we have to stay in Iraq and complete the mission, to honor the
sacrifices of the ones who have fallen.
And I say, why should I want one more mother to go through what I've gone
through, because my son is dead. You know what, the only way he can honor my
son's sacrifice is to bring the rest of the troops home. To make my son's
death count for peace and love, and not war and hatred like he stands for.
I don't want him using my son's death or my family's sacrifice to continue
the killing. I don't want him to exploit the honor of my son and others to
continue the killing. They sent these honorable people to die, and are so
So, as many of you have heard, and I didn't mean to cause any problems with
the convention, but I was writing an email to everybody, and I was so mad,
like I said, and I just had this brainstorm, I'm going to Dallas, I don't
know where Crawford is. I've been in Texas, Casey was stationed at Fort
Hood. I drove from northern California to Fort Hood one time, it took like,
30 hours. And I thought, I could be driving for days to get from Dallas to
But I don't care, I'm goin'. And I'm gonna tell them, "You get that evil
maniac out here, cuz a Gold Star Mother, somebody who's blood is on his
hands, has some questions for him."
And I'm gonna say, "OK, listen here, George. #1, you quit, and I demand,
every time you get out there and say you're going to continue the killing in
Iraq to honor the fallen heroes by continuing the mission; you say, except
"And you say except for all the members of Goldstar Families for Peace' cuz
we think not one drop of blood should be spilled in our families' names. You
quit doing that. You don't have my permission."
And I'm gonna say, "And you tell me, what the noble cause is that my son
died for." And if he even starts to say freedom and democracy' I'm gonna
You tell me the truth. You tell me that my son died for oil. You tell me
that my son died to make your friends rich. You tell me my son died to
spread the cancer of Pax Americana, imperialism in the Middle East. You tell
me that, you don't tell me my son died for freedom and democracy.'
Cuz, we're not freer. You're taking away our freedoms. The Iraqi people
aren't freer, they're much worse off than before you meddled in their
You get America out of Iraq, you get Israel out of Palestine
(massive round of applause)
And if you think I won't say bullshit to the President, I say move on, cuz
I'll say what's on my mind.
So, what's gonna happen? I started this, I thought it was gonna be just me
and my sister driving to Crawford, but it kind of mushroomed and people from
as far away as Dayton, Ohio are coming, to help us, to stand behind us,
because I travel all over the country, I speak, I write, I get feedback on
my writing, and just in the little over a year that I've been doing this,
I've seen a major turnaround in this country.
People don't just want to hear it, they want to know, what can we do?
What can we do to get him out of power? And I'm gonna say the I' word.
Impeach. And we have to have everybody impeached that lied to the American
public, and that's the executive branch, and any people in congress, and we
gotta go all the way down and we might have to go all the way down to the
person who picks up the dogshit in Washington because
We can't let somebody rise to the top who will pardon these war criminals.
Because they need to go to prison for what they've done in this world. We
can't have a pardon. They need to pay for what they've done.
So anyway, I'm gonna go to Crawford tomorrow, and I'm gonna say I want to
talk to him, and they say, he's not coming out, I'm gonna set up my tent
there until he comes out to talk to me.
And I have the whole month of August off, just like him. It's just the way
it worked out, I was supposed to go to England tomorrow to do some Downing
Street things, but Conyers cancelled, so hey, I have a lot of free time on
my hands, and I'm gonna stay until he comes out and talks to me. And if he
quits his vacation and goes to D.C., I'll pull my tent up, I'll go to D.C.,
and put it on the White House lawn, and I'll be waiting for you guys when
you get there September 24th.
Another thing that I'm doing is - - my son was killed in 2004, so I'm not
paying my taxes for 2004. If I get a letter from the IRS, I'm gonna say, you
know what, this war is illegal; this is why this war is illegal. This war is
immoral; this is why this war is immoral. You killed my son for this. I
don't owe you anything. And if I live to be a million, I won't owe you a
And I want them to come after me, because unlike what you've been doing with
the war resistance, I want to put this frickin' war on trial. And I want to
say, "You give me my son, and I'll pay your taxes."
I live in Vacaville, come and get me if you can find me there and put me on
trial, because like Camilo (Mejia), Camilo knew what was right. And he went
to prison for that. And Henry David Thoreau he went to prison, he refused to
pay his poll tax, and Emerson, I call them HT and RW, and RW came to visit
HT and said what are you doing here, buddy? And HT said, why aren't you
here? This is the only place for a moral person in an immoral world.
It's up to us, the people, to break immoral laws, and resist. As soon as the
leaders of a country lie to you, they have no authority over you. These
maniacs have no authority over us. And they might be able to put our bodies
in prison, but they can't put our spirits in prison. And I know that Camilo
came out a much stronger person, he's one of my heroes, it's great a row of
heroes in front of me here.
And everyone gave such great testimony this evening, I have to wonder, why
do we keep doing this to each other? Why do we let this continue time and
time again, why do let it happen? And it's because our country, is so good
at demonizing people, I still have relatives from WWII that still call
Japanese people Japs'. And we demonize the Iraqi people, where, most of this
country doesn't even think we're killing innocent people.
Because, "Oh Cindy, don't you remember what happened on September 11th?"
"Yeah, but, were any of those people in Iraq? And the people who flew those
planes into the Trade Center, where they from Iraq?"
When I was growing up, it was Communists'. Now it's Terrorists'. So you
always have to have somebody to fight and be afraid of, so the war machine
can build more bombs, guns, and bullets and everything.
But I do see hope. I see hope in this country. 58% of the American public
are with us. We're preaching to the choir, but the choir's not singing, if
all of the 58% started singing, this war would end.
I got an email the other day and it said, "Cindy, if you didn't use so much
profanity there's people on the fence' that get offended"
And you know what I said? "You know what? You know what, god-damn-it? How,
in the world is anybody still sitting on that fence'?"
"If you fall on the side that is pro-George, and pro-war, you get your ass
over to Iraq, and take the place of somebody who wants to come home. And if
you fall on the side that is against this war and against George Bush, stand
up and speak out."
But whatever side you fall on, quit being on the fence.
The opposite of good is not evil, it's apathy. And we have to get this
country off their butts, and we have to get the choir singing.
We need to say, bring our troops home now.
We can't depend on the people in charge bringing our troops home.
Because you don't plan on bringing the troops home when you drop so much of
the reconstruction money into building permanent bases.
I was hoping to come to the banquet tomorrow night, but unless George comes
out and talks to me, I'll be camping at Crawford.