By Cindy Sheehan
The rockets red glare,
Bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night
That our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that
Star spangled banner yet wave,
O'er the land of the free,
And the home of the brave.
The star spangled banner has been in the news quite a lot lately.
Some "courageous" Senators, including one of my own, Dianne
Feinstein and everyone's favorite left-wing liberal, Hillary Clinton,
bravely stuck their necks out to support an amendment that would
make it illegal to burn the flag of the USA under certain circumstances.
Heaven forbid one of these pussillanimous public servants introduce,
or even support a bill, that would call for an immediate end to
the occupation of Iraq…or to even require that the President
set a timeline for the withdrawal of our troops from a deadly quagmire
of an occupation while they are handing him more money to wage the
war crime in Iraq. As our nation's children are trying to only survive
in the worst of circumstances, and by surviving are committing reprehensible
atrocities on an innocent population which (especially in Ramadi
right now) is having bombs burst in air all around them, that our
Senate would even consider taking away first amendment rights from
Americans is wretchedly ironic. Call me naïve, but I always
thought that we elected our representatives to protect our rights,
not take them away from us.
When I look at the star spangled banner I think of my son who began
wearing a uniform with the flag on it from the time he went into
scouting at the age of 6. I also think of one of the last pictures
taken of Casey when he was awaiting deployment to Iraq from Kuwait.
He was standing in a tent holding a bottle of water, wearing his
desert cammies with an American flag patch on the chest. When we
buried him a few weeks after that picture was taken, I was handed
a folded flag which reminded me of the swaddling blanket that I
wrapped him in to bring him home from the hospital almost 25 years
The star-spangled banner, which I can now see whipping in the wind
outside of an airport terminal where I am writing this from does
not fill me with pride: it fills me with shame and that flag symbolizes
sorrow and corruption to me right now. The flag represents so much
lying, fixed elections, profiting by the war machine, high gas prices,
spying on Americans, rapid erosion of our freedoms while BushCo
literally gets away with murder, torture and extreme rendition,
contaminating the world with depleted uranium, and illegal and immoral
wars that are responsible for killing so many. A symbol which used
to represent hope to so many around the world now fills so many
When I look at that rectangular piece of cloth that has red and
white stripes and white stars on a blue field, I wonder what the
Iraqi people think when they see American tanks and other vehicles
rumbling through their streets carrying doom with that symbol emblazoned
upon them. Or,
what could our flag possibly represent to them when their women
are being raped and burned to conceal crimes and entire families
are being killed by soldiers whose uniforms carry that symbol?
I am sure that the flag symbolizes death and destruction to them
which I hope they are not confusing with freedom and democracy.
I often get told that I should "love America, or leave it."
This is ridiculous logic and empty rhetoric. I love the country
that I was born in and I love Americans…I am an American and
so are my children. Casey was born and died a fine American who
was abused by the same leaders that are abusing the world as I type.
I could leave if I wanted to and, in fact, have received many offers
to be an ex-patriate in many friendly countries. However, I want
to stay and fight for my country. I want my country and the flag
that symbolizes it around the globe to stand for something that
we can all be proud of again.
BushCo and the neocon regime embarked on this disastrous misadventure
in Iraq to prove to the world how strong and virile Pax Americana
is. Their abjectly failed mission, which was evil and corrupt from
the beginning, has not proven how strong our nation is, but, on
the contrary, how weak. However, the neocons have managed to prove,
that how, with the "mightiest" war machine in the world
an insurgency in a country smaller than the state of California
can hold their false freedom and deadly democracy at bay. One other
thing that the neocons have proven is that America is no longer
the moral touchstone of the world but is a nation that commits torture
and crimes against humanity with the presidential seal of approval.
BushCo has destroyed any credibility our nation ever had in the
world and all of us need to fight to regain it and thereby redeem
our own souls.
I implore you, while you are enjoying your potato salad and fireworks
on the 4th to reflect on what the star-spangled banner means to
you. If our flag symbolizes the same thing to you as it does to
the neocons, then by all means, enlist and go to Iraq to let some
of our soldiers come home that are tired of suffering and committing
war crimes for Halliburton, Dick and Donny.
If, however, you realize that the flag no longer waves "o'er
the land of the free" and you would like it to again, we invite
you to come out to Camp Casey this summer and help us fight for
the heart and soul of our nation. If you realize that while you
are "oohing and ahing" over the pretty fireworks in your
home town that there are real bombs bursting on the people of Iraq,
killing them and destroying their nation for no reason other than
Dick Cheney wanted to, then you need to digest your 4th of July
BBQ and get out and show Dicky and the world that we mean business
when we say we want our troops to come home to save them and our
brothers and sisters in Iraq.
Thousands of peace loving and war hating members of the human race
from all over the world are planning on coming to Crawford, Tx
to Camp Casey again this summer to stand, sit, or camp in the
face of the neocon war machine and prove to the world that there
are Americans who will courageously speak for the people of Iraq
and our soldiers who have no voices but who just want to be left
Come to Camp Casey.
We have room for everyone and everyone is welcome.
Cindy Sheehan is the mother of Spc. Casey Sheehan who was KIA
in Iraq on 04/04/04. She is also co-founder and President of Gold
Star Families for Peace and author of Not
One More Mother's Child and Dear