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Cindy Lee Miller Sheehan (born July 10, 1957) is an Americanmarker anti-war activist whose son was killed during his service in the Iraq War on April 4, 2004. She attracted national and international media attention in August 2005 for her extended anti-war protest at a makeshift camp outside President George W. Bush's Texas ranchmarker — a stand which drew both passionate support and angry criticism. She ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2008.

Personal life

Cindy Sheehan was born in Inglewood, Californiamarker in 1957. Her father worked at Lockheed Martin Corporation while her mother raised her family. She graduated with honors from Cerritos Collegemarker and studied history at UCLAmarker. She worked as a youth minister at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Vacaville, Californiamarker for eight years, and also coordinated an after-school program for at-risk middle school children for the City of Vacaville. In 1977 she married Patrick Sheehan, in Norwalk, Californiamarker; they had four children, including Casey Sheehan (born in 1979), who was later killed in action in Iraq on April 4, 2004. Her marriage ended in the summer of 2005.

Sheehan recently stated on Go Vegan Radio that she is a vegan.

Sheehan has a weekly radio show at CindySheehanSoapbox.Org.

Anti-war campaign

Sheehan states she initially questioned the urgency of the invasion of Iraq, but did not become active in the anti-war effort until after her son's death.Sheehan and other military families met with United States President George W. Bush in June 2004 at Fort Lewismarker, near Tacoma, Washingtonmarker, about three months after her son's death. In a June 24, 2004 interview with the Vacaville Reporter, published soon after the meeting, she stated, "We haven't been happy with the way the war has been handled. The President has changed his reasons for being over there every time a reason is proven false or an objective reached." She also stated that President Bush was "... sincere about wanting freedom for the Iraqis.. I know [he] feels no pain for our loss. And I know he's a man of war."

Sheehan gave another interview on October 4, 2004, stating that she did not understand the reasons for the Iraq invasion and never thought that Iraqmarker posed an imminent threat to the United States. She further stated that her son's death had compelled her to speak out against the war.



During the presidential inauguration in January 2005, Sheehan traveled to Washington, DCmarker to speak at the opening of "Eyes Wide Open: the Human Cost of War", a traveling exhibition created by the American Friends Service Committee that displays pairs of combat boots to represent US military casualties. She also traveled with the exhibition to other locations and donated her son Casey's boots, stating "Behind these boots is one broken-hearted family,"

Sheehan was one of the nine founding members of Gold Star Families for Peace, an organization she created in January 2005 with other families she met at the inauguration. It seeks to end the US occupation of Iraq, and provides support for families of soldiers killed in Iraq.

In March 2005, James Morris sent an e-mail to ABC's Nightline allegedly written by Sheehan that included the statements that Casey Sheehan "was killed for lies and for a PNAC Neo-Con agenda to benefit Israel" and that he had "joined the Army to protect America, not Israel." Sheehan denies the allegations: "I've never said that... Those aren't even words that I would say. I do believe that the Palestinian issue is a hot issue that needs to be solved, and it needs to be more fair and equitable, but I never said my son died for Israel." In a statement she inferred that Morris modified the email, which Morris denied. Two other individuals stated they received a copy of the same email directly from Sheehan.

Sheehan attracted international attention in early August 2005, when she traveled to President Bush's Prairie Chapel Ranchmarker, just outside Crawford, Texasmarker, demanding a second meeting with the President.She told members of Veterans for Peace,"And the other thing I want him to tell me is 'just what was the noble cause Casey died for?' Was it freedom and democracy? Bullshit! He died for oil. He died to make your friends richer. He died to expand American imperialism in the Middle East."She also vowed not to pay her federal income tax for 2004 because that was the year her son was killed.

Sheehan's actions led supporters such as Rev. Lennox Yearwood, CEO of the Hip Hop Caucus, to describe her as "the Rosa Parks of the antiwar movement." Later during the demonstration, Sheehan also gained the label of "Peace Mom" from the mainstream media.

Political activism

Camp Casey

On August 6, 2005, Sheehan created a makeshift camp in a ditch by the side of the road about three miles (5 km) from President Bush's Prairie Chapel Ranch near Crawford, Texas and announced her intention to stay (sleeping in a pup tent at night) until she was granted a face-to-face meeting with the President. Sheehan started her protest the day the President started a planned five-week vacation.A few days later, the media began referring to Sheehan's camp as "Camp Casey."
Members of White House vigil on August 17, 2005 support Cindy Sheehan's protest at President Bush's Crawford ranch.
She spent the next four weeks in Crawford (except for five days spent in Californiamarker to see her elderly mother, who had suffered a stroke.) On some days as many as 1500 supporters visited Camp Casey, including members of Congress, as well as several notable actors, singers, and civil rights activists.

Gold Star Families for Peace, of which Sheehan is a founding member, released a TV commercial featuring Sheehan, broadcast on Crawford and Wacomarker cable channels near Bush's ranch. The group conducted a walk to a police station just outside Pres. Bush's Crawford ranch and delivered a bundle of oversized letters written by them to First Lady Laura Bush, appealing to her as a mother for support towards their movement.

On August 16, Sheehan moved her camp closer to the Bush ranch after being offered the use of a piece of land owned by a supporter, Fred Mattlage, a third cousin of Larry Mattlage, a rancher who had fired a shotgun on his property near the demonstration site several days earlier.

In late August, Sheehan stated that she would continue to campaign against the Iraq war even if granted a meeting with Pres. Bush. She also announced the Bring Them Home Now Tour, to depart on September 1 and arrive in Washington, D.C.marker, on September 24 for three days of demonstrations. On the third day, Sheehan and about 370 other anti-war activists were arrested for demonstrating on the White Housemarker sidewalk.

Later 2005 activism

Sheehan's supported the activism of Sacramentomarker activist Stephen Pearcy and his family who had placed a controversial display of a soldier with the words, "Bush Lied, I Died." The display received national media coverage. Sheehan and then-husband Pat Sheehan, and about two hundred supporters of free speech and peace, stood on one side of the street to defend the Pearcys’ message, while a roughly equal number of opponents of the Pearcys’ display (including Melanie Morgan and members of Move America Forward) stood on the other side of the street while a line of police kept the two groups apart. Between 2005 and 2007, Sheehan attended several anti-war events in Sacramento organized by the Pearcys.

In September, the Bring Them Home Now Tour was organized by Gold Star Families for Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Military Families Speak Out, and Veterans For Peace. Inspired by, and frequently featuring Cindy Sheehan as a speaker, it was a rolling anti-war protest against the Iraq War, beginning in Crawford, Texasmarker, traveling three routes across the country (with rallies along the way) and culminating in a rally in Washington, DC in September 2005.

Sheehan returned to Texas to protest Bush taking a Thanksgiving vacation without bringing the soldiers home. In early December, Sheehan traveled to Chicagomarker to attend the annual People's Weekly World banquet.

In the winter of 2005/2006 Sheehan met with Senator John McCain, and later called him a "warmonger". She later protested Hillary Clinton's stance on the war, stating that Clinton must either speak out against the war or risk losing her job, and urged Governor Janet Napolitano to withdraw the Arizona National Guard from Iraq at a rally in Phoenixmarker. Sheehan said on October 24 during a media interview that she planned to speak at the White House and then tie herself to the fence. She and 28 others were arrested in a sit-in at the White House on October 26.

Sheehan went to Londonmarker in early December 2005 and was interviewed by BBC Radio 4 and by The Guardian. On December 10, Sheehan addressed the International Peace Conference, organized by the Stop the War Coalition. Later in the evening, she attended the London Premiere of Peace Mom, a play written by Dario Fo (Literature Nobel laureate) about her, in which the role of Sheehan was played by Frances de la Tour. On December 13, Sheehan traveled to Irelandmarker, where she met Irish Foreign Affairs minister Dermot Ahern. She voiced her objection to U.S. aircraft refueling at Shannon Airportmarker, stating, "Your Government, even though they didn't send troops to Iraq, are complicit in the crimes by allowing the planes to land and refuel".

2006

On January 31, Sheehan wore a T-shirt reading "2,245 Dead. How many more?" to Bush's State of the Union address and was removed and arrested by Capitol Police. Additionally, Beverly Young, the wife of Representative Bill Young (R., Flamarker.), was told to leave because she was wearing a T-shirt that read "Support the Troops: Defending Our Freedom." As a matter of policy, visitors to Congress are not allowed to wear shirts containing type of any kind. Sheehan described the event:




On March 7, Sheehan was arrested in New Yorkmarker "after blocking the door to the U.S. Mission to the U.N. offices" during a protest with Iraqi women against the war.

Sheehan took part in the United For Peace and Justice March in New York to protest the war on April 29, 2006.

In April 2006 City Lights published Sheehan's Dear President Bush, in which she wrote about Martin Luther King, Jr., civil disobedience, US foreign policy, Hurricane Katrina's devastation of New Orleansmarker, military recruitment, her son Casey’s death on his fifth day in Iraq, soldiers who resist, and her personal transformation into America’s most outspoken advocate for peace. Howard Zinn wrote the introduction.

Sheehan has accused the United States of planning to attack Iranmarker in an effort to halt that nation's development of nuclear weapons. In two articles on BuzzFlash, she said the passage of the Iran Freedom and Support Act was merely a stepping stone to war and called on Congress to reject similar measures in the future.

On Mother's Day, Sheehan joined Susan Sarandon at a Code Pink organized protest in Lafayette Parkmarker, across the street from the White House. Sheehan told the crowd that Mother's Day without her son was "very emotional" for her.

On May 26, Sheehan spoke at a rally in Melbournemarker, Australia. The rally was held in front of the offices of the Victorian Liberal Party, and it was in support of the release of David Hicks.

Several organizations planned a hunger strike for July 4 in which Sheehan stated she would participate, but would not be fasting indefinitely as some others had pledged to do. "Some of us, like Dick Gregory and Diane Wilson, will be fasting until the troops come home from Iraq, and some, like me, will be fasting for a specified time. Her fast was a full liquid diet.

On July 5, Sheehan appeared on MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews to discuss the war and her upcoming hunger strike. On the show, she called Bush "the biggest terrorist in the world" and "worse than Osama Bin Laden," and conceded that she would rather live under Venezuelamarker's Hugo Chávez than Bush. Later that month, Sheehan purchased of land in Crawford, Texas, near Bush's private residence. In a written statement, Sheehan wrote that she "decided to buy property in Crawford to use until George's resignation or impeachment, which we all hope is soon for the sake of the world." She also stated that she "can't think of a better way to use Casey's insurance money than for peace", and that she is sure that her son would have approved. In an interview on The Stephanie Miller Show, Sheehan said that once her need for the land is over, she intends to donate the land to Crawford for the purpose of converting it into The Casey Sheehan Memorial Peace Park.

In September, Sheehan released her memoir, entitled Peace Mom: A Mother's Journey Through Heartache to Activism. The book recounts her experience of losing her son, along with fantasies of suicide and revenge against Bush, and her transformation into an anti-war activist. Also included in the book are criticisms of several other politicians, including: Senator John McCain, whom she accuses of lying to the media about his private statements to her; John Kerry, whom she says she regrets voting for; and Hillary Clinton, whom she calls a "powermonger." While she could not participate for health reasons, Sheehan allowed her supporters to set up Camp Casey at Camp Democracy in early September.

On December 10, Sheehan participated in a pro-impeachment forum at Fordham Universitymarker alongside Carolyn Ho, mother of Ehren Watada, the first commissioned Army officer to refuse to go to Iraq.

2007

On January 6, 2007 she traveled to Cubamarker and called for the closure of the U.S. military prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. She also visited the Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM) where she declared: "I am impressed by the school, the quality of the students. I have never seen anything like it in the world; it doesn’t matter what part of the world we come from, or the fact that our governments don’t get along, we have the same hearts and they are filled with love."

In Springfield, Vermontmarker, on March 4, 2007, Sheehan gave a speech at the Unitarian Universalist Church about impeaching Bush and ending the war.

Cindy Sheehan planned on visiting Purdue Universitymarker on April 12, 2007, to give a speech on President Bush and the war in Iraq. This visit caused controversy locally and Purdue University enacted security measures not normally used around a guest speaker, such as banning signs or banners from the speech location. Some students let their opinion be known as Sheehan had a hard time speaking over the chorus of boos from those in attendance. At one point in her speech, she referred to the students heckling her as "warmongers."

Cindy Sheehan was invited by the May 4th Task Force as part of a yearly event remembering the Kent State Shootingsmarker. After ringing the Kent State bell 32 times to honor the recent Virginia Tech massacremarker, Cindy Sheehan spoke to a crowded gathering of students, activists and adults from all over the region.

On July 2, Sheehan started a podcast together with Mary Morello called The Mary Morello and Cindy Sheehan Show.

On May 26 and May 28, 2007, Sheehan officially left the Democratic Party after the Democratic-controlled Congress passed a bill authorizing the continued funding of the war in Iraq, and submitted her resignation as the "face" of the American anti-war movement via two messages posted to Daily Kos, stating that she wanted to go home and be a mother to her surviving children.

Cindy Sheehan campaigns at an End the War Now! rally in San Francisco, October 2007
On July 3, 2007, in response to President Bush's commutation of Scooter Libby's sentence, Cindy Sheehan returned to activism. She asserted that she would take a new approach to the anti-war movement, but that Bush's recent action "dragged me kicking and screaming back in."

Congressional election campaign

In July 2007, Sheehan had announced that she would run against Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi based on her failure to attempt impeachment of Bush. Up until her run for U.S. Congress, Sheehan lived outside Pelosi's district, in Dixon, Californiamarker; however, she moved to San Francisco's Mission District, after declaring her candidacy. Earlier, in 2006, she had spoken of ambitions to challenge Dianne Feinstein for her seat in the United States Senate.

In 2008 Sheehan focused on her campaign. She ran on a platform of single-payer health care, media reform, overturning all free trade agreements, repealing the Patriot Act, renewable energy, nationalizing oil and electricity, ending the War on Drugs, legalizing cannabis, ensuring all talks in the Middle East are fair to all parties, ending torture, closing Guantanamo Bay detention camp, overseas commitment to cleaning up Superfund sites, ending deregulation, ending No Child Left Behind, and legalizing same-sex marriage. Sheehan lost the 2008 election to U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. In a seven-way race, Sheehan came in second with 46,118 votes (16.14%).

2009

On June 8, 2009; Sheehan led a protest near former President Bush's home in the wealthy north Dallas neighborhood of Preston Hollow.

In August, 2009, Sheehan protested at Martha's Vineyardmarker during President Barack Obama's stay there. According to ABC News: "Sheehan invoked Sen. Ted Kennedy's passing as part of her message, noting that he was firmly anti-war and how he said his proudest vote as a senator was his 2002 vote against the Iraq war."

On October 5 Sheehan was arrested with sixty others at the White House protesting President Obama's continuation of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. She told CNN: "I think the mood of the country and the mood of our movement is getting a little bit more desperate, and (that) this will be the time to be able to translate our tireless activism and work for peace."

See also



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