"I now know he's sincere about wanting freedom for the Iraqis. "I know he's sorry and feels some pain for our loss. And I know he's a man of faith."
The 10 minutes of face time with the president could have given the family a chance to vent their frustrations or ask Bush some of the difficult questions they have been asking themselves, such as whether their son's sacrifice would make the world a safer place.
But in the end, the [family] decided against such talk, deferring to how they believed [their son] would have wanted them to act. In addition, the father noted that Bush wasn't stumping for votes or trying to gain a political edge for the upcoming election.
"We have a lot of respect for the office of the president, and I have a new respect for him because he was sincere and he didn't have to take the time to meet with us," he said.
And there was more:
The trip had one benefit that none of the [soldier's family] expected. For a moment, life returned to the way it was before [their son] died. They laughed, joked and bickered playfully as they briefly toured Seattle. For the first time in 11 weeks, they felt whole again. "That was the gift the president gave us, the gift of happiness, of being together," [the mother] said.For those who have not yet realized, the soldier's name was Casey Sheehan. His mother is Cindy Sheehan, who is now singing a completely different tune:
"Am I emotional? Yes, my first born was murdered. Am I angry? Yes, he was killed for lies and for a PNAC Neo-Con agenda to benefit Israel. My son joined the army to protect America, not Israel. Am I stupid? No, I know full well that my son, my family, this nation and this world were betrayed by George Bush who was influenced by the neo-con PNAC agendas after 9/11. We were told that we were attacked on 9/11 because the terrorists hate our freedoms and democracy … not for the real reason, because the Arab Muslims who attacked us hate our middle-eastern foreign policy."I had actually planned on avoiding this whole subject, hoping it would die out. Sadly, it has not, though it did slow down somewhat with the sad news that Mrs. Sheehan's mother is ailing.
“And the other thing I want him to tell me is ‘just what was the noble cause Casey died for?’ Was it freedom and democracy? Bull****! He died for oil. He died to make your friends richer. He died to expand American imperialism in the Middle East. We’re not freer here, thanks to your PATRIOT Act. Iraq is not free. You get America out of Iraq and Israel out of Palestine and you’ll stop the terrorism,” she exclaimed.
I feel terribly sorry for Mrs. Sheehan, who has had the ultimate tragedy happen to her. Nevertheless, I feel sorrier that she has apparently been convinced by some on the far-left fringe to dishonor her son's memory with this ridiculous protest. Her own family has, after a time, finally spoken out against her, as have many other parents of slain servicemen. Her story is sad - not heroic. Her son's life was heroic.
As LGF points out, there is an excellent editorial in today's Wall Street Journal entitled "She Does Not Speak For Me", in which the author talks about other parents, including himself, who have lost children in Iraq. The entire editorial is filled with the heroism of our troops, including Casey Sheehan.
Although we all walk the same sad road of sorrow and agony, we walk it as individuals with all the refreshing uniqueness of our own thoughts shaped in large measure by the life and death of our own fallen hero. Over the past few days I have reached out to other parents and loved ones of fallen heroes in an attempt to find out their reactions to all the attention Mrs. Sheehan has attracted. What emerges from those conversations is an empathy for Mrs. Sheehan's suffering but a fundamental disagreement with her politics.
Ann and Dale Hampton lost their only child, Capt. Kimberly Hampton, on Jan. 2, 2004, while she was flying her Kiowa helicopter. She was a member of the 82nd Airborne and the company commander. She had already served in Afghanistan before being deployed to Iraq. Ann Hampton wrote, "My grief sometimes seems unbearable, but I cannot add the additional baggage of anger. Mrs. Sheehan has every right to protest . . . but I cannot do that. I would be protesting the very thing that Kimberly believed in and died for."
Karen Long is the mother of Spc. Zachariah Long, who died with my son Kyle on May 30, 2003. Zack and Kyle were inseparable friends as only soldiers can be, and Karen and I have become inseparable friends since their deaths. Karen's view is that what Mrs. Sheehan is doing she has every right to do, but she is dishonoring all soldiers, including Karen's son, Zack. Karen cannot comprehend why Mrs. Sheehan cannot seem to come to grips with the idea that her own son, Casey, was a soldier like Zack who had a mission to complete. Karen will tell you over and over again that Zack is not here and no one, but no one will dishonor her son.
By all accounts Spc. Casey Sheehan, Mrs. Sheehan's son, was a soldier by choice and by the strength of his character. I did not have the honor of knowing him, but I have read that he attended community college for three years and then chose to join the Army. In August 2003, five months into Operation Iraqi Freedom and after three years of service, Casey Sheehan re-enlisted in the Army with the full knowledge there was a war going on, and with the high probability he would be assigned to a combat area. Mrs. Sheehan frequently speaks of her son in religious terms, even saying that she thought that some day Casey would be a priest. Like so many of the individuals who have given their lives in service to our country, Casey was a very special young man. How do you decry that which someone has chosen to do with his life? How does a mother dishonor the sacrifice of her own son?Mr. Griffin then ties in another excellent point about responsibility, and the neccessity to see a job through to the end.
To many loved ones, there are few if any "what ifs." They, like their fallen heroes before them, live in the world as it is and not what it was or could have been. Think of the sacrifices that have brought us to this day. We as a country made a collective decision. We must now live up to our decision and not deviate until the mission is complete.
Thirty-five years ago, a president faced a similar dilemma in Vietnam. He gave in and we got "peace with honor." To this day, I am still searching for that honor. Today, those who defend our freedom every day do so as volunteers with a clear and certain purpose. Today, they have in their commander in chief someone who will not allow us to sink into self-pity. I will not allow him to. The amazing part about talking to the people left behind is that I did not want them to stop. After speaking to so many I have come away with the certainty of their conviction that in a large measure it's because of the deeds and sacrifices of their fallen heroes that this is a better and safer world we now live in.
He sums up his points with the way we should honor our heroes' memories.
Those who lost their lives believed in the mission. To honor their memory, and because it's right, we must believe in the mission, too.
We refuse to allow Cindy Sheehan to speak for all of us. Instead, we ask you to learn the individual stories. They are glorious. Honor their memories.
Honor their service. Never dishonor them by giving in. They never did.