A Mother’s Protest
By Lindsay Mathews
Special to The Star
With signs ready to tout, hundreds of anti-war supporters welcomed Cindy Sheehan at the Capitol building in Austin at 5 p.m. yesterday to participate in a peace rally. Sheehan, who since the conception of Camp Casey located in Crawford, has quickly become the face of the antiwar movement in the US.
After 26 days in Crawford protesting the war and demanding to speak with President George W. Bush regarding her son’s death while serving in Iraq, Sheehan took Camp Casey to the streets making Austin the first stop on the Freedom and Faith bus tour. She led a peaceful march down Congress Avenue to Austin City Hall where additional supporters waited to hear her speak.
The event included poetry readings, musical performances by Jimmy Dale Gilmore and Eliza Gilkyson, and speakers from various anti-war organizations. CodePink is an organization of women against war that has been instrumental in the success of Sheehan’s campaign thus far, was present.
Jim Goodnow, a member of Veterans for Peace, has been with Camp Casey since it began on Aug. and is against Bush’s policies and the war.
“Desperate men do desperate things, like Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld,” Goodnow said. “And now that Bush’s approval rating is at its lowest, I’d watch out for some kind of major diversion.”
Voices of opposition could be heard through the constant chanting. Across the street about 20 supporters of President Bush and the war stationed themselves. At one point, Jordan Leu, a government student and a member of College Republicans, crossed the street to engage their opponents in debate.
“I think (Sheehan) is cheapening what her son died for … we need to finish the job in Iraq,” Leu said.
However, many supporters believe that because she took a public stand against Bush and the Iraq war, people who agree will speak up as well, possibly bringing the war to an end.
“Military families are the best message we can use to end the war,” said Jason Kafoury, a law student at Tulane University in New Orleans.
According to an August Gallup Poll, Bush’s approval rating has dropped to 40 percent, the lowest for his administration.
The event culminated when Sheehan took the stage. She expressed her gratitude to the audience for their support.
“This has been the most amazing thing I have ever been involved in,” Sheehan said.
After her son was killed in Iraq, she sent an open-ended letter to President Bush requesting an answer as to why her son died. “For What Noble Cause” has become a popular slogan for the antiwar campaign and was taken from the letter she wrote to Bush.
“We have to hold Bush accountable … don’t give your children to this government when they misuse them,” Sheehan said.
The Freedom and Faith bus tour is destined for Washington, D.C. for the annual Peace Walk on Sept. 24. The next stop will be in Houston. More information about Cindy Sheehan and the bus tour can be found at www.meetcindy.com.