Baltimore, MD. - Although she was hurt slightly in a police-inspired incident the night before in NYC, at a Union Square anti-Iraqi War rally, Cindy Sheehan was in splendid form by the time that she took the stage at Johns Hopkins University's Shriver auditorium, on the evening of September 20, 2005. A capacity crowd estimated at over 1,000 filled the facility, with plenty of flags, banners, signs and posters, too, decorating the confines of the facility.
“'Camp Casey' was very important to the Anti-War Movement,” Sheehan explained, as she began her talk, “but, we are going to need to be there (Washington, D.C.) in force this weekend. (1) We’re going to need two million people for the media to say that there were 100,000 there.” She added that on their trip to our Nation’s capital, the protesters need to also put aside time to confront the members of the U.S. Congress. She accused the Congress of “cowardly abrogating its Constitutional responsibility to declare war to someone they knew was lying and they knew was a maniac and they did it anyway. (2) We need to hold Congress accountable for what they did...We need strong leaders. We need an 'Opposition Party.' We the people are the 'Opposition Party!' And, the media will not help us out. We have to do it ourselves.”
The anti-war rally was co-sponsored by the “Bring Them Home Now Tour,” and an Anti-War student group on the Hopkins campus. One of the persons attending the affair was Dr. Chester L. Wickwire, Chaplain Emeritus of JHU. Now, age 92, he is confined to a wheelchair. He was greeted by a ringing round of applause from the audience. For years, Wickwire, like the late, great Phil Berrigan, was a voice of sanity courageously speaking out against the evils of rampant militarism and unjust wars.
Sheehan, age 44, posed these questions to the overly timid Establishment-controlled media, “Why don’t you ask Bush, what is ‘a noble cause?’” Why don’t you ask him that? Why don’t you challenge him on it?” She said the media challenged her for calling her 2nd grade teacher a “boo-boo head! How come you can’t challenge the President of the U.S., who has lied us into a war?” She continued in the same vein: “Bush says he has made America safer. Well, ask the people of New Orleans, if they feel safer?”
Tia Steele, whose stepson, David, age 21, a U.S. Marine, was recently killed in Iraq, acted as a chairperson for the proceedings. On stage with her were representatives from “Iraq Veterans Against the War,” “Military Families Speak Out,” “Veterans for Peace," and "Gold Star Families for Peace.” Sheehan, who is from Vacaville, CA, and whose son Spc. Casey Sheehan, age 24, was killed in action in Sadr City, Iraq on April 4. 2004, is a cofounder of “Gold Star Families for Peace.” Some of the other speakers at the rally were: Carlos Arredondo, Stacy Benneman and Hart Viges. Rapper Kevin James, a history teacher in Baltimore, performed two songs with anti-Iraqi War themes for an appreciative crowd. Then, an ex-US Marine, who had served in Iraq, played “Taps,” on his trumpet. You couldn’t hear a pin drop in the audience while that mournful sound filtered through the large hall.
"Freedom and democracy begin at home," Sheehan said in an obvious dig at one of Bush's ubiquitous pro-Iraqi war propaganda lines. "Sixty-two percent of the country want our troops to start coming home. That's democracy! That's majority rule! If Bush believes in democracy, then he should bring our troops home." She said, "Bush violates the Constitution every time he opens his mouth." She underscored how the new Iraqi regime is "a sham government - a puppet government," and that many of its mover and shakers "encouraged the [U.S.] invasion so that they could get rich. They are feeding off our children's flesh and blood."
Just prior to the event, I was discussing with my colleague, Jim George, from Baltimore's Indy Media Center, the energizing phenomena that is Cindy Sheehan. There isn't any doubt that the Anti-Iraqi War Movement in this country is not one person and/or one group. It is, instead, a grass-roots-based process made up of countless individuals and numerous and hardworking organizations. Jim mentioned the book, "The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Difference," by Malcolm Gladwell, as a possible explanation for Sheehan's importance to the anti-war cause. I tend to agree with that analysis. The only thing we can now know for sure though, is this: At the moment, the Anti-War Movement is growing in strength daily in this country; also, it is feared by both the warmongers and their pimps in the media.
Sheehan continued, "What we are doing in Iraq is breeding terrorism...Our children are going to have to pay for all of the destruction that George Bush has caused...He needs to be held accountable..." And, if the Congress doesn't shape up, Sheehan strongly suggested, "Then, they need to be fired...They need to be landsided out of office..." As of September 21, 2005, 1,907 brave members of the U.S. military have died in the illegal and immoral Iraqi War. The cost of the conflict to the taxpayers is presently put at $196 billion and rising. (3)
Finally, there were a lot of great signs in the audience for this inspiring event, but I particularly liked the one that cogently read: "Cindy is Right, and Mr. Bush - You and Your Neo-Cons Owe us all Answers!" (4)
2. Art. 1, Sec. 8 (11) of the U.S. Constitution vests the power to declare war in the U.S. Congress alone.
4. The edited remarks of Cindy Sheehan, made at the above described rally, can be found in a video, at this site: http://homepage.mac.com/bhughes2/iMovieTheater155.html
© William Hughes 2005.
William Hughes is the author of “Saying ‘’No’ to the War Party” (IUniverse, Inc.). He can be reached at email@example.com