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Cindy Sheehan and Rose Gentle: Two Women Changing the World

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Message Missy Beattie
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I have often remarked to my husband that if more and more families of the fallen would speak out against the war in Iraq, the mainstream media, might, just might, begin to give them airtime. My 81-year-old mother was interviewed by Pacifica Radio host Deepa Fernandez ("Wakeup Call") soon after my nephew died in Iraq. Her words and pain are still vivid in my mind and heart. She speaks the same way today about the death of her grandson.

Soon, we will mark the first anniversary of the death of Marine Lance Cpl. Chase J. Comley, killed in action on August 6, 2005. We received the news early Sunday morning, the day after he died, that day our lives changed forever.

When I hear or read that a devastated family member has said, "He died doing what he loved," or "protecting our freedoms," or "she was fighting them over there so we wouldn't have to fight them over here," I turn to my husband or call my parents with complete understanding of the tragic loss, and we discuss that, while it might be some small comfort to believe all this, we simply can't. And we wish that more parents and relatives of the dead would say, "This is an illegal, immoral war that took our child, our loved one. So, now, what are we doing to do to prevent others from hearing the words that no family should have to bear?"

Early on in the war, I saw a man in the news who loudly said into the camera, "George Bush killed my son." I talked with my mother about this and commented that it received little attention. This, of course, is the failure of our mainstream media-those journalists who used to be essential to our system of checks and balances. Now, for the most part, they have been rendered superfluous.

But Cindy came along. Sheehan, of course. And she arrived with such presence-this tireless woman with more courage than anyone in our chickenhawk administration could ever dream about having. Traveling to Crawford, Texas, she tenaciously sat, stood, and waited for the president to acknowledge her pain and answer the question: "For what noble cause did my son Casey die?" All he had to do was walk outside, listen to this grieving mother who became the peace movement's mover and shaker and answer her question. Instead, he rambled about having to get on with his life, one of the many stupid statements that underscores his dumber than a box of doorknobs description. But the truth is that the president could never give a satisfactory answer because not only is there nothing noble about war, this particular one is not just wrong-it is criminally, insanely so. It is a crime against our troops, their families, the coalition, everyone lied to by the president, and the Iraqi people.

And despite the opinion that a majority of Americans now have about the calamity of mass destruction that is Iraq, the war machine rolls on with its unacceptable denial and its decision to send more of our young to die. Note that the warmongers have no children in harm's way.

Finally, finally, today, I received an article from Gold Star Families for Peace, the organization founded by Cindy Sheehan and her husband to protest their son's death, the continued carnage in a war based on lies, and to provide support to others suffering immeasurable loss. The facts in the piece give hope to all of us who believe that the president and his administration should be held accountable for its crimes against humanity and the essence of life-the quality that separates us from those who find it so effortless to declare war. In other words, people without consciences. This is the article:

27 July 2006 By Robert Verkaik, The Independent UK

The families of four British soldiers killed in Iraq have won an important round in their legal battle to force the Government to hold an independent inquiry into the decision to go to war.

Three judges sitting in the Court of Appeal in London ruled that the families should be entitled to argue their case at a new hearing later this year.

Lawyers for the families, whose relatives died in Iraq between 2003 and 2005, called the ruling 'a stunning victory.' 'The Government now have to
produce evidence to a full hearing in the Court of Appeal,' said Phil Shiner, the families' solicitor. 'That evidence needs to establish once and
for all whether the decision to invade was lawful.'

The Court of Appeal ruled they were entitled to apply for a judicial review of the Government's refusal to hold an independent inquiry into the decision to go to war. It reversed a ruling last year when a High Court judge said that the families did not have an arguable case.

In their ruling, the Court of Appeal judges, led by Sir Anthony Clarke, Master of the Rolls, said: 'It is at least arguable that the question whether the invasion was lawful, or reasonably thought to have been lawful, as a matter of international law is worthy of investigation.'

After the ruling, Mr Shiner said: 'In particular, the Government must finally explain how the 13-page, equivocal advice from the Attorney General of 7 March 2003 was changed within 10 days to a one-page, completely unequivocal advice that an invasion would be legal.'

Yesterday's appeal was brought by Peter Brierley, the father of Shaun Brierley; Beverley Clarke, the mother of David Clarke; Rose Gentle, the mother of Gordon Gentle, and Susan Smith, the mother of Phillip Hewett.

Lance Corporal Shaun Brierley, 28, whose family are from Batley, West Yorkshire, was serving with 212 Signals Squadron when he was killed in a crash in Kuwait in March 2003.

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Missy Beattie lives in New York City. She's written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. An outspoken critic of the Bush Administration and the war in Iraq, she's a member of Gold Star Families for Peace. She completed a (more...)
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