Thursday, August 18, 2005

Cindy Sheehan's Struggle Hits Nebraska

by Kyle Michaelis

Yesterday, there were an estimated 1,625 vigils across the country supporting grieving mother Cindy Sheehan's continued efforts to speak with President Bush during his month-long Texas vacation about his reasons for going to war in Iraq - a decision that has resulted in the deaths of more than 1800 American service men and women, among them Sheehan's 24 year-old son Casey.

The Omaha World-Herald estimated 300 Omahans came out to the vigil at Memorial Park, while another 150 people stood along O Street in Lincoln in support of the troops but in opposition to continued Iraqi military operations. At the Lincoln event, one Nebraska mother participated who knew all too well Sheehan's pain and frustration. The World-Herald reports:
Becky Henderson would love to go to Crawford, Texas, and join Cindy Sheehan in her vigil.

The Lincoln woman said she would camp out with her fellow grieving mom and also try to talk to President Bush about what it means to lose a son in what she called an unnecessary war.

"I'd tell him what it's like to go to bed at night and see your child's life flash before your eyes like a slide show," Henderson said.

Other obligations keep Henderson from going to Texas. But she joined about 150 others Wednesday night in Lincoln in a candlelight vigil supporting the California woman who is camped near Bush's ranch.

Henderson, 55, shares a painful bond with Sheehan, having also lost a son to the Iraq war last year. Matthew Henderson, a 25-year-old Marine, was killed in May 2004 by a roadside bomb.

While Sheehan's vigil has become politicized, Henderson said, she doesn't think that was the original intent.

"She's just a mom who wants to talk to the president. I would love to, too," she said. "My involvement is as a mother who does not want to have other families go through what we've gone through. When is enough enough?"

Meanwhile, on a similarly heart-felt note, Lincoln Journal-Star columnist Cindy Lange-Kubrick writes today:
I feel guilty that someone else's sons and daughters are a world away patrolling the streets of Ramadi and the rest of us are here watching reality TV and worrying about the price of filling up the minivan.

I feel guilty because most of the time the war doesn't pierce the protective bubble we've built around ourselves.

Have we been asked to plant victory gardens? Save scrap metal? Change our habits?

No. Instead, we've been told to travel, to spend, to go about our daily lives with little more than yellow ribbons on our bumpers.

And so we do.

And if we're against the war, we're afraid to say it too loud. We don't want the troops to think we don't support them. We don't want our neighbors to think we're not patriotic.

But the latest polls show more than half of us think getting into this war was a mistake, and more than that think we're less safe from terrorism now than we were before we bombed Baghdad.

We don't know if we're fighting to protect ourselves or to free the Iraqi people, to secure an oil supply or simply finish a job we started.

A grieving mother named Cindy Sheehan has set up camp outside of Crawford, Texas, asking her president to meet with her, to explain what it was her son died for.

Some people think she's a hero and some people think she's a pawn. They can debate her motives in letters to the editor until the cows come home and they'll never know for certain what's in her heart. I don't know, either.

I guess I think she's a mom who probably wishes her boy was 3.2 miles down the road in a dorm room, worrying about the first day of classes.

How true and how tragic that it takes such sadness and loss to finally capture the media's attention and the public's imagination. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Ms. Sheehan, Ms. Henderson, and all those who've paid price immeasurable in this sad and ill-reasoned conflict.


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