Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Other ways to grieve, part 2 

(Updated: scroll down)

Cindy Sheehan: "I couldn't walk through Camp Casey or the Crawford Peace House today without hugging people and getting my picture taken. Now I know how Mickey Mouse feels at Disneyland."

Sadly, the whole sorry spectacle outside the presidential ranch has now degenerated into a sort of a Disneyland of the Deranged, a Tragic Kingdom, with more and more foul causes attaching themselves to the Cindy Sheehan bandwagon in an act of emotional and political vampirism, albeit on a willing victim.

In fact, what Cindy Sheehan's vigil increasingly reminds me of most is a vaguely blasphemous spectacle. Here we have Casey Sheehan, the martyred Messiah, and Cindy Sheehan, the grief-stricken Mother of God, sitting at the foot of a forest of little white crosses, while the anti-war crowd partakes in the unholy communion of Casey's body and blood, in the hope that he - through the agency and intercession of his mother - will be their new savior, leading them to the Kingdom of Heaven where the US troops are out of Iraq and George Bush is out of the White House. Casey Sheehan might have died for - and because of - President Bush's sins (and if we believe Cindy's anti-Semitic ravings, Casey, like the medieval Christ, was murdered by the Jews), but his sacrifice will surely bring the political resurrection to the anti-war movement, buffeted by the re-election of BushHitler.

I'm sorry that Casey died. I'm sorry that Cindy lost her son. I'm sorry that her family is now being torn apart. But I'm not surprised that the whole sorry saga is becoming increasingly distasteful to other grieving parents. A few days ago, I wrote about families who choose not to politicize the deaths of their sons and daughters and did not blame George Bush for their deaths. Today, another few who have messages for Cindy Sheehan.

Here's Marla Uhles:
Marla Uhles lost her son, Marine Lance Cpl. Drew Uhles on Sept. 15 in Iraq.

Therefore, she understands the pain Cindy Sheehan of California is feeling at the loss of her son in Iraq.

However, Marla Uhles said she has a difficult time supporting Sheehan...

Marla Uhles said Sheehan has gone "overboard" and it has become more about the publicity.

"I don't know, I think she's more out for herself right now than for her son," she said.
And Lisa Short:
Lisa Short said some days are better than others since learning in early November that her son, Lance Cpl. Aaron Pickering, had been killed while fighting in Fallujah. She still holds onto the last letter Aaron sent her and reads it almost daily. She reread it again Monday.

"He said, 'Mom, our presence here is necessary,'" Short said.

That's why she said it's difficult for her to believe in Sheehan's cause. This is an all-volunteer military, she said, you sign up knowing you might put yourself in harm's way.

"That's the whole point of joining the military," she said. "I don't support what she's doing. I just can't."

She said perhaps it is Sheehan's grief that has propelled her to take her cause this far. She understands that feeling of losing a son at such a young age. Aaron was 20 when he died.

"Sometimes you feel desperate enough to do anything," she said. "I don't understand the point of it - it's disrespectful to our kids."
And Matt and Toni Matula:
"Matthew was very proud of being a Marine and proud of his unit and what they were doing," Toni Matula said.

When the Matulas saw the Crawford protest on TV, something did more than just bother them.

"All this stuff going in Crawford, we've just been watching it and shaking our heads until two days ago, we saw the crosses with the names on there," Matt Matula said.

On one white cross read the name Matthew Matula: their 20-year-old son who was killed in Iraq last year.

"He's not a victim, he's a hero, and I think that everybody that's serving our country is heroes," Matt Matula said.

"He knew joining the Marines, his chances are, that was the purpose. His main number one job was to defend our country. He was very aware of that before he signed up," Toni Matula said.

So Matt Matula went to Crawford to stand up for his son, a Marine who proudly stood by the war he died in.

"I went there and had Matthew's name taken off of there. It's fine for people to grieve their own way. It aggravates me to see them using other people's names to further their cause," Matt Matula said.

"For people to use his name against it is not what he died for. He died so that they can do that though," Toni Matula said.
Debbie Argel Bastian is another mother who resents her son's name being used in Sheehan's protest:
The mother of a Lompoc soldier killed in Iraq is demanding that her son's name be removed from what she considers anti-war memorials on the beach here and outside President Bush's Texas ranch.

Air Force Capt. Derek Argel's remains were buried with four of his comrades at Arlington National Cemetery last week. His mother, Debbie Argel Bastian, says the other memorials are an insult to his memory.

"I'm livid about it," Bastian said of the weekly beach display on Santa Barbara's West Beach and the smaller memorial in Texas, where the mother of another dead soldier has made headlines with a weeklong protest.

"Derek would not want to be remembered that way."
It's only sad that idiots who drive their pick-up trucks through Cindy's crosses or shoot shotguns in the air provide a distraction and a media fodder for those who would rather not listen.

Update: When parents of a Marine from Ohio killed in Iraq call in question President Bush's strategy in Iraq, advocating either escalation or complete withdrawal, and call Cindy Sheehan "the Rosa Parks of the new movement opposing the Iraq war", "The Washington Post" thinks the story is important enough to make page A02 of the paper (hat tip: Little Green Footballs).

When a mother of a Marine from Ohio killed in Iraq says "The dedication to the cause is something to admire... How proud we are of these young men, and what they continue to do and what they stand for", it gets the last paragraph of a story on page A19.

Go figure.


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