‘America is ready to end the war’

OAKLAND, Calif. — Cindy Sheehan “came home” to a loving welcome Oct. 5 as hundreds of supporters gathered here to give her standing ovation after ovation.

Every ear was tuned in to her story as the grieving mother, who captured the world’s imagination with her quest to meet President Bush, told how the encampment she and a handful of others started outside Crawford, Texas, attracted over 12,000 people from all over the U.S. and the world. “Camp Casey [named for Sheehan’s son, killed in Iraq last year] was a people’s movement,” she said, “the people of America raising their voices and holding Bush accountable for his lies.”

With a compelling presence, Sheehan spoke of her determination to pursue the struggle to bring all the troops home, and her growing optimism about the antiwar movement.

“In the beginning,” she said, “people would say to me, ‘You’re speaking to the choir.’ I would reply, ‘But not all the choir is singing.’ Now, all the choir is singing together.”

Calling Camp Casey “a place of love, hope and acceptance,” Sheehan said, “We remembered that we have the power, and Camp Casey proved that.” Sheehan emphasized the growing millions of Americans who are joining their voices together for peace.

She added that the large number of young people who came to Camp Casey and to the Sept. 24 antiwar mobilization in Washington, D.C., “encourages me greatly because this is a young people’s world.”

Sheehan said the bus tour from Crawford to Washington on the way to the demonstration experienced little opposition. “We went to ‘red’ states and cities — 60 percent of Americans know the war was a mistake and Bush lied.” As the death toll of U.S. troops in Iraq approaches the 2,000 mark, she said, “America is ready” to end the war.

Though sharply critical of Democrats as well as Republicans in Congress who have not taken a strong stand against the war, Sheehan praised the formation last summer of the “Out of Iraq” congressional caucus with over 60 members.

As questions turned to Hurricane Katrina, Sheehan said the administration created the biggest disaster with its “terrible” response. She emphasized that racism experienced by Black and Latino people in the region had caused great suffering before the disaster struck.

The evening, organized by Global Exchange, benefited Gold Star Families for Peace, Global Exchange and Code Pink.