Cindy Sheehan to speak in Charlottesville

Famous grieving mom, Texas ranch squatter, peace activist, and general thorn in President Bush’s side, Cindy Sheehan will speak in Charlottesville on May 17 at the Martin Luther King Jr. Performing Arts Center. Sheehan made national news when she camped outside Bush’s Texas home to ask him why her son, Casey, who was killed in action in Baghdad in 2004, had to die. Since then, Sheehan has become a powerful, and controversial figure in the anti-war movement. The event is being organized by the Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice.


I will get this out of the way first- With regards to the Iraq War, I was personally against it (The forgotten war in Afganistan I support entirely). However the time to stand up in opposition to the Iraq war was *before* it started. Now that we broke it, I think we are obligated to fix the mess that *we* created.

I feel sorry for Ms. Sheehan's loss. However I think she's milked the grieving mom angle a little too long, and managed to turn her loss into a second career. The words "Sponsored By:" on the flyer suggest that they aren't doing this for free. Not to mention that this new round of public appearances also will coincide with the launch of her new book on May 1st. The website of her organization Gold Star Families For Peace details a whole list of related speaking events. And I wouldn't be surprised if she doesn't give her book a plug at this event either.

You gotta hand it to the folks at the Center for Peace and Justice. Easily dismissed as those honk-for-peace protesters who seem to assemble at least once a month in front of the federal courthouse, this event shows that they really know how to put on an event. Way to go, CPJ!

Bill Wells writes that "we are obligated to fix the mess that *we* created" in Iraq. I am one of a growing body of people (by some reports, even the majority of people) who question how our continued presence in Iraq is going to "fix" anything.

I've been outraged by our invasion of Iraq from the begining, but I have my life to lead and a family to raise, so I channeled my frustration into postings on my blog. Yeah, that helped. A few months ago, I attended a Town Hall Forum on Iraq, also sponsored by the Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice, and was driven to become more involved. I am now a member of the speaker's committee that helped bring Cindy Sheehan to town. Bill, I infer from your comments that you think this is simply a money-raising event for the CCPJ and a book tour for Cindy, and I have to assure you that nothing could be further from the truth.

CCPJ *is* sponsoring this event because someone has to arrange for the venue, generate publicity, hire security, etc. All of this does costs, but Cindy has not asked us for a dime. If this is her "career" now, I assure you that she is not in it for the money, but is driven by her passionate commitment to saving lives.

CCPJ will be asking for a $5 suggested donation at the door, but no one will be turned away. *After* Cindy agreed to come to Charlottesville, her publisher contacted our committee and asked if we'd be interested in selling some books. Although we can return any unsold copies, we'll still need to pay for shipping both ways, so one of the committee members has offered to send a personal check to the publisher to get this taken care of.

I'm telling you all of this so that you, and the rest of our community, will understand our own passion for bringing Cindy Sheehan to our city. There is no ulterior motive, no one is in this to make money. We are hopeful that enough people do donate that CCPJ will recoup its costs, and any extra will go back into the fund to make future events like this possible.

I truly hope that you will be there on May 17. I am inviting everyone I know, even my grade school children. Our presence in Iraq is *the* most important issue facing our nation today. I invite everyone who wants to engage in a reasoned discussion about these issues -- including and especially those of you who think we need to stay the course, but also people like me who feel we need to do *something* new -- to come to the Martin Luther King Performing Arts Center on May 17, listen to Cindy Sheehan, listen to Ann Wright, rock on with Terry Allard, and *most* importantly, talk to your neighbors, your family, your co-workers, or members of your church, and let's start a national dialogue on what we need to do NOW about the Iraq problem.