Mother, Anti-War Activist: b. 1957
Cindy Lee Miller Sheehan was born on July 10, 1957. She married Patrick Sheehan and the couple had four children--Casey, Carly, Andy, and Janey. Casey was the oldest. The whole family was active in the church; Cindy was once a Youth Minister. They were a tightly knit family that, in Cindy´s words, “did everything together.”
Cindy’s world changed forever when, on an April 4, 2004 missio in Sadr City, Iraq, Army Specialist Casey Sheehan was killed. Cindy and other military families met with President George W. Bush in June of 2004. By October, Cindy´s grief had led her to action. She wrote, “I was ashamed that I hadn’t tried to stop the war before Casey died…Well, I now felt that if I couldn’t make a difference, I would at least try.”
Sheehan became one of the strongest, most personal and persistent voices in the movement against the war in Iraq. Her quest to end the war, bring soldiers home, and hold politicians accountable for the decisions that sent the troops to Iraq in the first place, has been indefatigable.
The American Friends Service Committee created a traveling exhibition of combat boots, each pair representing a U.S. military casualty. They invited Sheehan to speak at the opening of the exhibit, titled “Eyes Wide Open: the Human Cost of War”, which coincided with President George W. Bush´s second inauguration in January 2005. At that event, Sheehan got the idea to start an organization called Gold Star Families for Peace. Cindy said this about the organization: “When a mom has a child killed in a war, she becomes a Gold Star Mom. Well, we expanded the idea to include all family members because an entire family is affected because of the death.”
In early August of 2005, Cindy, or “Peace Mom” as she came to be called, camped in a ditch near President Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas. She requested a second personal meeting with the president, who had declared that the fallen soldiers had died for a “noble cause”. Cindy wanted to know exactly what that cause was, and to demand an immediate end to what she viewed as an unjust and immoral war.
So many people stopped by to show their support or join her camp that her demonstration became known as “Camp Casey”. A few days later, one of Bush´s neighbors offered the Camp Casey participants some land to use as their base. Camp Casey became a regular protest event, popping up when President Bush was in Crawford for holidays and vacations.
Between Camp Casey operations, Sheehan traveled extensively to join anti-war rallies and to meet with activists and leaders from around the world. She is credited with having revived the anti-war protest, and being the face for the peace and justice movement. Her published works include an account of her first year of activism called Not One More Mother’s Child, a collection of her writing and speeches, Dear President Bush, and Peace Mom: A Mother’s Journey through Heartache to Activism.