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Cindy Sheehan: Number 3,291

Number 3,291

By Cindy Sheehan
t r u t h o u t | Guest Contributor

Tuesday 17 April 2007

Out of war nations acquire additional territory, if they are victorious. They just take it. This newly acquired territory promptly is exploited by the few - the selfsame few who wrung dollars out of blood in the war. The general public shoulders the bill.

And what is this bill?

This bill renders a horrible accounting. Newly placed gravestones. Mangled bodies. Shattered minds. Broken hearts and homes. Economic instability. Depression and all its attendant miseries. Back-breaking taxation for generations and generations.
- Major General Smedley Butler, "War Is a Racket"

I met the aunt of Number 3291 today. I was sitting in seat 11E and a flight attendant gave me a note from a woman in seat 33C: "My nephew was killed in Iraq yesterday. I would like to meet you."

Seat belt light or not, I headed back toward the rear of the airplane. We held each other and she said: "What can I do? My brother was in the Army and he initially supported the effort. Yesterday, he made a sign with a picture of his son saying: 'Murdered by George Bush.'" I prayed for the Universe to give the families strength yesterday, as I do every day our soldiers are killed, as I pray for the Iraqis and their families, who are also murdered unnecessarily. I don't often get to meet the people I pray for in such a timely manner.

Four of our brave and abused troops were killed in King George's escalation of the conflict in Iraq. Ten over the Easter weekend while George was hiding out at his ranch in Crawford. George Bush and his bloody gang of war bandits have caused so much pain and heartache in the world without so much as a blink of the eye. Number 3291's aunt recounted how she heard her sister "screaming for her son," on the other end of the phone. Number 3291's family is just beginning to realize the true meaning of broken heart and betrayals.

Number 3291 has a name: Brian. The only thing I know for sure about Brian was that he was in the Army, he was probably blown up by an IED (which could have been avoided with an IED detector in his vehicle), and he has a loving aunt named Sheryl. His family lives in North Carolina, and that's where his body will be returned - under the cover of darkness to hide the shame of the Bush regime.

Brian will never be a number to his family or friends. To the few people in this country who still, incredibly, support this horror and his war, Brian's sacrifice will be noted as "freedom isn't free," or "he volunteered." To the antiwar movement, Brian will be commemorated in a candlelight vigil when the 4000th troop is killed in Iraq. To the man sitting next to me in seat 11D, Brian is a nonentity because he has no opinion on the occupation one way or the other, because he has "no time to worry about it." Trust me, though, that's all Brian's mom did for the entire time he was in Iraq, and there are 160,000 moms who lie awake at night worried about their child, and Iraqi moms who never know when the last "I love you," is the last one forever.

To me, Brian represents a failure. I have been struggling with all my energy and resources to ensure that Brian's mom never had to fall on the floor screaming in agony, or that Aunt Sheryl would never have to take a sad and lonely trip across the country to be with her family in this terrible occasion for mourning. Every death since Casey's has hit me with a fresh assault of suffering. How can my wounds heal, when so many new ones are being opened up on a daily basis in three countries that are being devastated by the Bush doctrine of inflicting immeasurable damage, with his war for profit being masqueraded as a war on terror?

The antiwar movement is failing in many areas. First of all, like the man sitting next to me, there are too many apathetic people in this country. How can anyone still be so indifferent to so much death and destruction? Even the people who are still confused and support the war have an opinion. The antiwar movement is also failing in its lack of influence on the policymakers. When such pro-occupation entities as MoveOn are being hailed as the "antiwar left" and our Congressional leaders are listening to them and using their corrupt polls as tools to hammer theoretically antiwar reps into voting for a bill that would extend our troop presence in Iraq indefinitely, then the true antiwar movement has not been effective in getting our message out.

Another goal that the antiwar movement should have would be to move the overwhelming majority of Americans who are against the occupation of Iraq off their couches and into the streets. The leaders of our country are in the obscenely deep pockets of the war machine and are exceedingly comfortable there. Only a massive electoral revolt will be able to pick the pockets of the war profiteers and force our elected officials to represent us, not the wealthy.

Brian's family, my family, 3293 other families, our military families who are financially and emotionally strapped by the constant deployments and getting ready for deployments are sacrificing too much on the altar of greed. The Iraqi people who did not ask for Bush's help are sacrificing horribly on this imperial altar. The rest of this nation is not sacrificing the way that so many others have. I am working so you don't have to.

But if we, as a nation, want to end the farce of false patriotism to justify wars for profit and empire, we will have to sacrifice until it hurts. In this cleansing act will come redemption, because then we can be assured that all of the children of the world are safe and sound. If we don't work to end the absolute stranglehold of violence we are clutched in, then we deserve what we get.

Our movement has to move toward peace ... at all costs.

Please go to The Camp Casey Peace Institute for info on things we can do to end this occupation!


Cindy Sheehan is the mother of Spc. Casey Sheehan, who was killed in Bush's war of terror on 04/04/04. She is the co-founder and president of Gold Star Families for Peace and The Camp Casey Peace Institute.

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