February 28, 2005
"I'm so glad George Bush is a uniter and not a divider," I sarcastically
thought to myself as the retired Marine Viet Nam Veteran was screaming at me
and the other volunteers at the Eyes Wide Open Exhibit (presented by the
American Friend's Service Committee--AFSC) in Dallas today.
The man was beside himself with fury. He accused me and the AFSC of being
shameful and that the AFSC wanted to see all of our soldiers who are
fighting in Iraq "tried for war crimes." I just sat at the hospitality table
trying to let the Veteran blow off some steam-I couldn't answer his concerns
at that point anyway- I felt his accusations were for the representatives of
The very, very angry man finally screamed one thing that I couldn't ignore.
He was practically frothing at the mouth when he roared: "You people are all
cowards. You wouldn't die for anything."
That's when I had had just about enough of Mr. Marine's tirade. I stood up
to him and I said: "You are wrong about that sir. I would have gladly gone
to Iraq instead of my son. I would have died in his place without question."
This simple, but true statement, which any parent would make, took the wind
out of Mr. Marine's sails. He got tears in his eyes and he said: "I'm so
sorry for your loss, ma'am. I would have taken your son's place, too." Then
we hugged each other and both of us cried--me for my devastating loss and I'm
not sure what the Veteran gentleman was crying for? My loss or the losses he
experienced as a soldier in Viet Nam? Maybe a little of both?
At that miraculous and rare point in time, a Blue State, peace activist mom
and a Red state, Bush/War supporting Veteran, found common ground!! It was a
very unusual and sacred moment. When we found common ground, we were able to
open up an honest dialogue, which is so rare in this country these days.
There were about 50 protesters out today at the Eyes Wide Open Exhibit. They
were there because they were under the mistaken impression that the AFSC
wants all soldiers serving in Iraq prosecuted for war crimes. That would
make me mad, also: if it were true. Most of our children in harm's way are
just trying to save their lives and the lives of their buddies. But this
notion about the AFSC, is totally absurd and false. How did these otherwise,
seemingly intelligent protestors get such a whacky idea?? Well, the
protesters were told that this was true by a hate-mongering radio talk show
host named Darell Ankarlo. He told his listeners: "Eyes Wide Open is in
actuality anti-war/anti-American/anti-troops display suggesting that our
military "be brought to justice" for crimes against humanity." Ankarlo also
told his listeners that this statement was on the AFSC website.
Of course, this is not on the AFSC website. But don't take my word for it.
Do something that Ankarlo's listeners did not: check it out yourself.
WWW.AFSC.ORG. It's amazing to me that the protesters would come out and
waste hours of their time on a beautiful Dallas morning to protest something
that they didn't even verify!!
Like I said in my speech at the Eyes Wide Open Exhibit today: "Whether one
thinks this war is moral or immoral, we all agree that the 1496 young people
represented in their empty boots behind me, are brave and honorable people
who deserve the highest of honors and our highest respect."
I have been all over the country protesting this war and trying to expose
the reasons for going to Iraq and staying in Iraq for what they were and
still are: lies. My experience in Dallas has convinced me of a certain fact:
standing across from our philosophical opponents and screaming slogans at
each other is not very productive. Having knee-jerk reactions to hate
mongering talk show hosts is also very counter-productive! I think we as
Americans have more in common with each other than not and we need to find
that common ground quickly!! We need to join together to stop the next war
before it even begins this time.
Exhibits like AFSC's Eyes Wide Open is a wonderful way to honor our
children's sacrifices and to bring an awareness of the true human cost of
war to our nation. Click on the link to the AFSC website and you can view a
short movie on the exhibit, see the list of scheduled upcoming cities where
Eyes Wide Open will be, and sign a petition for peace.
(Repeated calls and e-mails to Darrell Ankarlo's station <KLIF AM> in Dallas
from members of Gold Star Families for Peace <GSFP> have not been returned.
We are demanding that Ankarlo apologize to the AFSC and to GSFP for lying to
Love and Peace!!!
Mother of Hero: Spc Casey Austin Sheehan KIA 04/04/04
Casey's Peace Page
Co-Founder of Gold Star Families For Peace