"I have to go on with my life" - President Bush when asked how he can go bike riding for two hours when he doesn't have time to meet with Cindy Sheehan, camped outside his Crawford, TX ranch, the mother of Casey Sheehan, killed in Iraq.
“Getting on with my life means a life without my dear, sweet boy. Getting on with my life means learning to live with a pain that is so intense that sometimes I feel like throwing up, or screaming until I pass out from sorrow. I wish a little bike ride could help me get on with my life. I can't believe that someone who is the figured of an administration that has killed tens of thousands of innocent people doesn't spend his days hiding under his bed in shame, let alone riding his bike. " - Cindy Sheehan.
I admire this woman's resolve. Hopefully, like the president, she too will be steadfast, determined, unwavering, and stubborn. She is on a quest to get the president to answer one question: why did my son have to die? Luckily, unlike other moms, here is a woman who can take time off and camp outside Bush's ranch. I wonder if financial support is flowing in so she can continue her vigil?
Her attempts have made international news. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/4144532.stm
There are also some blogs and opinions that feel Sheehan is dishonoring her son.
That particular blog says: "Spc. Casey Sheehan was a solider. He volunteered once and then reenlisted when that first commitment was served. He believed in his President, and he believed, as more than 99% of all soldiers do, that the mission he was fighting is noble, necessary, and just. "
I'm not really sure how this blogger knew that Casey Sheehan believed in his cause. But, it is probably true that 99% of soldiers do believe in what they're fighting for. I can vouch for this from my Air Force service. When we went to war with Iraq I knew of only one person who wasn't absolutely thrilled by the idea--including myself. You're trained to be a fighting force and using that training is like finally getting to play in the big leagues. It's your calling. However, this isn't saying much when 1) you're in an environment filled with positive propaganda about your mission and your worthy service and 2) when you are willing to die for that cause you probably try to put the best face on it you can.
I do agree, however, that soldiers who volunteer should willfully accept the risk of their job. No one becomes a fire fighter and never honestly expects to put their lives on the line, do they? However, I met many career military people who never expected to be deployed. One of the biggest benefits of military service is job security. When I did not opt to "re-up" for more military time I had to go through my entire chain of command as they tried to coax me into staying. They touted job security every time. "You don't want to work for Enron, do you?" they said. No, people like Spc. Casey probably did not want to work for Enron. They wanted to be a part of a cause, they wanted job security, they wanted a pension after 20 years, they wanted to see the world--all things the military sells itself on.
Can a mom, acting out of sincere grief, ever dishonor the memory of a lost child? I really don't think so and I think it's incredibly arrogant to ask any person in that context to behave in any certain way. No-doubt her son has involved in a vein war. Did her son know it, or admit that to himself during moments of reflection (whenever the military does allow reflection)? We'll never know. But Cindy Sheehan wants to know why her son had to die. For what? Should the president meet with this woman? Will that give rise to other mothers who want the president to answer questions? Where does the line get drawn? No questions answered? Every question answered? Just as Bush will not give in to terrorists, I believe he will use the same thought process when dealing with this mother camped outside his ranch. He will not give in to demands or coercion. I hope she remains outside the ranch. She doesn't claim to represent all moms who have lost sons or daughters in Iraq. She only seeks answers for her own son.