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Friday, August 19, 2005

Casey Sheehan

Who speaks for Casey Sheehan?
By David Gelernter


Casey Sheehan's deeds were heroic. By laying down his life for this nation, he delivered the kind of message that is written in blood, that lives forever. Why on Earth would a loving mother choose to refocus the nation's attention onto her words and away from his deeds?

And what was Casey Sheehan's message? It had nothing to do with President Bush. It didn't even have to do with the war, necessarily. It said something much simpler: "I love my country."

The real story is brief enough. Casey Sheehan enlisted in the Army in 2000 at age 20. The country was at peace. When he was asked to reenlist four years later, he knew that he would probably be sent to Iraq. He reenlisted anyway. In March 2004, he was sent to Iraq as a mechanic attached to the artillery division of the 1st Cavalry Division. When a convoy was attacked in Sadr City a month later, he volunteered to join the rescue mission — although he had no obligation to take part in combat. He was awarded the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star.

Did he intend to say, "I love my country?" Or was he tricked into saying it? He volunteered to reenlist with the war underway — as an experienced young man, not a teenager. Then he volunteered again, for a dangerous mission above and beyond the call of duty. And one thing more, from his sister, Carly: "That's all he wanted to do was serve G-d and his country his whole life." (He was a devout Roman Catholic.) What message emerges? What it sounds like to me is: "I devote my life lovingly to my country and my G-d."

And his mother's message? The FrontPage website noted her comments to a reporter. "The biggest terrorist is George W. Bush." And: "We are waging nuclear war in Iraq, we have contaminated the entire country." And most important: "America has been killing people on this continent since it started. This country is not worth dying for."

The news media have done Cindy Sheehan no favor. They only let a grief-stricken mother embarrass herself; it has been painful to watch. It's past time to shift the spotlight back to her brave son and his surviving comrades, where it has always belonged.


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