Today I went to see Cindy Sheehan, the famous mother of Casey, a US military personnel killed in Iraq. Cindy spent a month camping outside GW Bushs ranch in Crawford Texas in an effort to speak to the President and ask him some questions from her mourning mother POV. She drew quite a crowd of mothers and media and supporters (and detractors). But Bush refused to meet with her. I’m not surprised because I think she would’ve said some things he wouldn’t want to hear. But I’m glad I heard what she had to say. She’s a powerful, plainspoken women who speaks what she feels. I’m glad she’s carrying on her work through Gold Star Families for Peace and travelling the world to bring attention to her cause: matriotism, peace and the impeachment or resignation of GWB.

I showed up late to the proceedings yesterday and things were already underway in the Sala de Pace of the Comune di Roma building just off Piazza Venezia. Piazza Venezia is where Mussolini declared war on the allies and got Italy into WWII. Anyway Cindy was with a panel of folks including another American grieving mother and some Italians representing other like minded organizations. She looks in person, even more like any woman who could be a friend of my mom’s or the mother of a kid on your soccer team from Anytown. She seems guileless, though of course, her successful management of the media proves otherwise. At any rate, it was a small room with a small audience of about 60-80 sympathetic attendees. I myself was moved to get a little watery on more than one occasion so much did her simple message resonate, and so much does she wear her broken heart on her sleeve.

She called Bush a traitor and a war criminal and said she hoped to see him impeached or at least resign in disgrace. On this and other occasions she drew enthusiastic rounds of applause, both after she spoke (in English) and after the translator translated her words into Italian.

A key idea she introduced was her idea of “Matriotism.” It’s different than Patriotism in that it’s love of country superceded by a love of peace. It’s a simple, yet powerful, idea that pushes back at those who call her unpatriotic. She explained emphatically that she’s clearly not: she loves America, she loves American, heck, she gave birth to four Americans, how could she not love America. Her beef is with an unjust war that cost her her son.

I confess I went not only because I support her and what she’s done, also because she’s a celebrity of sorts, but also because I wanted to make up my own mind about her greedy grabbing of media spotlight and public attention. I was quickly moved by the sincerity of her grief, the simplicity of her message, and her devotion to drawing and keeping attention on the injustices of the Iraqi war and occupation.
She spoke to those who try and discredit her by saying simply that she can’t be discredited because she speaks from her heart, and honest feelings can’t be discredited. I tend to agree with her. And she brought me too into her cause well before her motherly hug at the end of the event. She didn’t even mind that I’m Canadian… us Peaceniks have to stick together.

That’s me on the end. That’s Cindy in the middle.