Cindy Sheehan Goes to Washington

Peace mom takes her message to the president, Congress, and a lot of television crews

The speakers' targets went way beyond the Republican party. “There’s Democrats that voted for the war. This is not about right or left, it’s about right or wrong,” Camacho insisted.

Camacho also had some sharp words for the media, who he said are always tagging after Cindy Sheehan. “Ask where are the WMDs, ask what’s the exit strategy, ask what is the noble cause?” he challenged the camera crews, referring to Bush’s oft-repeated claim that American soldiers are fighting in Iraq for a “noble cause.” “Freedom of the press? They’re going to cut my face right out, so don’t even waste your tape. They don’t want to put a face on this,” he told the TV crews.

Cindy Sheehan listens as former Army Specialist Cody Camacho of Chicago takes a turn.
photo: Sarah Ferguson
Cindy Sheehan listens as former Army Specialist Cody Camacho of Chicago takes a turn.

Peace mom, fellow activists on the march (photo by Sarah Ferguson)
Although her critics have sought to portray Sheehan and her supporters as hijacked by the far left, it would be hard to typecast the anguish voiced by Philip Waste of Shellman Bluff, Georgia.

“I was in the military and it was good to me,” said the 65-year-old grandfather, who now has three sons and two grandchildren on active duty. “But I am guilty, I am so guilty, because I recommended that my sons join the Army to defend their country.

“In my family, we don’t cry over spilt milk, and Congress shouldn’t either,” Waste continued, his voice rising in anger. “They may have had faulty information to vote for this war, but they don’t now. I would ask Congress what is noble about the illegal occupation of Iraq? It is we the people who are making the sacrifice, and we who are now asking that Congress do their duty and bring our troops home.”

Waste and his wife, Linda, are an example of the kind of people catalyzed by Sheehan. In early August, they heard her interviewed on NPR, and the next day were on their way to Crawford. “We found that Cindy was a courageous and sincere woman, and she is what she says, so we joined Military Military Families Speak Out right then,” Waste said.

“When she asked the question of Bush, how is this war a noble cause, I’m a pretty smart man and I couldn’t answer it.”

Sheehan hasn’t given up on her crusade to make Bush answer that question. After the press conference, she and the other members of the tour marched over to the front gate of the White House, where they attempted to deliver a letter to Bush demanding that he answer this question: “What noble cause are our loved ones fighting and dying for?”

“My name is Cindy Sheehan, and I have a letter to deliver to the president,” she told the guards.

“Karl Rove may call me a clown, but there’s a lot of people who agree with what I say,” she told the news crews pressing around her.

The guards wouldn’t let her past the gates, of course, but a White House suit took the missive and walked away with it.

Mission accomplished, for now at least, Sheehan and her followers retreated to their RVs and set off for the Washington Mall, where they set up a fully permitted Camp Casey Memorial, named after the 24-year-old son she lost in Iraq. Tomorrow Sheehan and the other members of the tour will start knocking on the doors of Congress. Sheehan has meetings scheduled with Representatives Marilyn Musgrave, Dave Reichert, Jeb Bradley, and Henry Waxman and with Senators John McCain, Hillary Clinton, and Edward Kennedy. She also hopes to meet with Senators Bill Frist and Elizabeth Dole, though organizers say Frist and Dole have repeatedly refused requests for a meeting.

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