Sincere Person Easily Becomes a Pawn

President of Gold Star Families for Peace, Cindy Sheehan (R) of Vacaville, California, is hugged by Father Luis Barrios from New York who had given a Sunday morning service near the ranch owned by U.S. President George W. Bush in Crawford, Texas August 14, 2005. Sheehan's son, U.S. Army Specialist Casey Austin Sheehan, had died while serving in Iraq. Sheehan and dozens of other protesters prayed at the service as they begin their second week camped near Bush's ranch to protest against the U.S. military presence in Iraq. On the left is Juan Torres, whose son, also named Juan, lost his life serving in Iraq. REUTERS/Jason Reed
Sheehan hugged by Father Barrios REUTERS/Jason Reed
The Vacaville, CA woman, Cindy Sheehan, who is "making hay" wanting to talk to the President will probably become a pawn. Her campaign started out as grief over the loss of a son in Iraq.

Now, of course, she has become the darling of the anti-war ideologues. And, in the media circus, probably her message will be lost. Already some communications companies have arrived to coordinate her media efforts. Give me a break! Here's is a simple message: "Mr. President, I want to tell you face to face how much this hurts. How many more of our loved ones need to die in this senseless war?"

Her Son Is Dead

What can not be denied is that her son is dead. However she wants to display her grief ought not to be condemned but accepted. I mean, come on, the women has lost her son and the President is on a three week vacation.

I read where some guy who lost a son said, "I'm not even sure I have an opinion on the war yet, but I know what it's like to lose a child." Now, that's empathy. Another guy donated $4,000 to her and is paying for her meals. Who knows what their motives are, but I think I understand: When you are in grief, you want to do something.

She said on NPR that she wants an explanation from the President on the War. Somewhat ambiguous, to say the least: What can he say? Well, here's about it for the President, "You're in good company Ms. Sheehan, 23 Marines killed in one week, 5 more U.S. soldiers this week, 7 Pennsylvania National Guardsmen killed in 4 days. All total, more than 1850 soldiers killed. So, don't feel so bad. Your son has died for a noble cause."

For those of us who are middle of the road types, it is not that the soldier's cause is not noble, it is that the cause has been mismanaged. Ambiguous. Impossible. No exit time frame and no over all strategy other than hoping it is going to be OK.

Politics Screw Up Most Good Motives

I don't doubt Ms.Sheehan's motives in the beginning, but they can go to hell in a hand basket fast when politics get involved. The right, the left: the red, the blue- they all have a position and lost in translation is a grieving mother. She becomes lost herself. Sad.

I think my buddy from Vietnam said it best, "Sheehan's son and all the others may have died in vain, but they lived in honor." As far as this mother is concerned, my heart is broken for her as all the others from Iraq as it just gets worse. When you have an ideology like O'Reilly or Drudge or Michael Moore, it really doesn't make any difference other than their desire to promote themselves and their views. Their motives are always suspect.

We Need An Exit Stragedy

Any thinking person doesn't doubt that the President and most Americans empathize with Ms. Sheehan or anyone who has lost a son. What we have an obligation to do is figure out how to bring our conventional troops home as quickly as possible and learn lessons from what we've done. We didn't learn from Vietnam; so maybe, for future generations, we can learn from this debacle. God bless in particular all those who grieve over this war.
Kelly Thomas
vietnam movie-beautiful country
Beautiful Country. Very heavy movie. I think it had to do with the fact that somehow in every Vietnam combat vet's psyche, all the problems of the Vietnamese are laid at our feet. At least I have felt that way. Not true, but have always felt like we let the Vietnamese down. We made all those promises and then ran out on them.

Vietnam was not like Iraq, we actually had a moral purpose and were operating at the behest of a legitimate government although corrupt; but still, for the time, it seemed to be the right thing to do. But, like Iraq, Nam was mismanaged to the max.


It is the early 1990's in Vietnam. Binh, an Amerasian (Father was American soldier in Nam and Mother was Vietnamese) is an outcast, a child of the dust. He goes through an entire series of mishaps in leaving Vietnam. Just when you think it can't get any worse and your heart is weighted down, it gets worse! Binh's mother flees to Siagon leaving him behind in the country side. Unaccepted, he finally leaves when the mother's sister decides to marry and there's no room for Binh in the home. Binh travels to Saigon and finds his mother. (interesting thing here is that the word, Saigon, is used and not Ho Chi Minh City). The Mother is very accepting and gets him a job shining shoes and other menial tasks. He is tall, unlike the Vietnamese, and all know he is a "child of the dust." He is abused by employers. Finally, he has an accident which kills the employer; he escapes with the help of his Mother who sends his half brother, Tam, with him to become one of the "boat" people. Amazingly he and his brother survive; they finally get to Malaysia and become slave laborers.


In an odd set of circumstances, he escapes the horrific slave labor camp with a Chinese prostitute and wannabe singer, Ling, and his little brother. They board an old freighter. There's an unscrupulous boat captain and slave trafficker. They have a portion of money to pay their way to the United States. What they don't have, they must agree to work off in New York through indentured servitude. Many die on the voyage where there is little food, to include his little brother, Tam. Binh finally gets to NY; the prostitute, Ling, who he loves, goes back to plying her trade. Binh works and finally heads out to find his father; he has a picture.


Binh goes to Texas. Steve, Nick Nolte, who is blind works on a ranch. After some bungling attempts, father, Steve; son, Binh; are reunited. By this time, I am exhausted; all this drama really gets to you.


This movie is very symbolic; Beautiful Country is America ; Binh is America; thus Beautiful Country is Vietnam. Impossible to do justice to all the allegory, the symbolism, and the metaphors in this movie. It should be about four hours long to explore all of the above. I'm serious! I doubt many Vietnam veterans will see the movie as distribution is very limited and such a shame. It was heavy and any sane person would avoid it, but most of us Vietvets are hardly sane. We should see it and then discuss and tell war stories and start a buzz about it.

Other interesting facts, include:1) the movie is about Vietnam, and an Amerasian's struggles, but it is a Norwegian production 2)The film has English subtitled Vietnamese dialogue gradually becoming American English as Binh's language skills improve. jhl
August 16 2005
Army Maj. Gen. Rodney Kobayashi presents the Purple Heart and Bronze Star to Cindy Sheehan, standing left, in this Tuesday, April 13, 2004 file photo, during a funeral service for her son, Army Spc. Casey Sheehan, 24, in Vacaville, Calif. Sheehan was killed in action south of Baghdad Sunday, April 4, 2004, when the convoy he was in was ambushed. Seven other soldiers also died in the attack. (AP Photo/The Vacaville Reporter, Rick Roach, File)
AP/The Vacaville Reporter, Roach/file
Grief is a title wave that overtakes you, smashes down upon you with unimaginable force, sweeps you up into its darkness, where you tumble and crash against unidentifiable surfaces only to be thrown out on an unknown beach, bruised, reshaped.

Grief makes what others think of you moot. It shears away the masks of normal life and forces brutal honestly out of your mouth before propriety can stop you. It shoves away friends and scares away so called friends, and rewrites your address book for you.

Stephanie Ericcson, Compassion through the Darkness.
Land owner Larry Mattlage looks out from his ranch across the street from Cindy Sheehan's camp near Crawford, Texas, Sunday, Aug. 14, 2005. During a prayer service, Mattlage came out and fired his hunting shotgun into the air then put up a no parking sign. Mattlage says that the protestors should go home and he will continue to fire his gun until they do. Mattlage's gun play, although legal in Texas, did get him a visit from Secrete Service and local sheriff deputies. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
(AP Photo/LM Otero)
“The Sheehan Family lost our beloved Casey in the Iraq War and we have been silently, respectfully grieving. We do not agree with the political motivations and publicity tactics of Cindy Sheehan.

She now appears to be promoting her own personal agenda and notoriety at the expense of her son’s good name and reputation.

The rest of the Sheehan Family supports the troops, our country, and our President, silently, with prayer and respect.”
Casey Sheehan’s grandparents, aunts, uncles and numerous cousins.” - Casey Sheehan's paternal family

Cindy Sheehan's response:

"We have always been on separate sides of the fence politically and I have not spoken to them since the elections when they supported the man who is responsible for Casey's death."... "The thing that matters to me is that my family: Casey's dad and my other three kids are on the same side of the fence that I am." She also noted that she and husband were separated and dealing with their grief differently.

Note : Sheehan's husband filed for divorce August 12.

What can't be denied is that Ms. Sheehan's son is dead. What the President really ought to do is if he wants to get her out of Crawford is get the Swiftboat Vets after her. Those guys know how to accomplish a mission. KT

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