Wednesday, August 17, 2005
In Crawford, Texas, anti-war protesters led by American Cindy Sheehan, mother of a fallen soldier, have found a new place to demonstrate. “A kind gentleman from down the road, closer to the Bush ranch, has offered us the use of his property,” said Sheehan to the reporters, as the camp prepared a move to private land.
The property owner, U.S. Army veteran Fred Mattlage, said, “I just think people should have a right to protest without being harassed, and I’m against the war. I don’t think it’s a war we need to be in.”
Sheehan continued to tell the reporters, “He offered it because he heard about the shots fired at us the other day and he didn’t think that was right. He happens to be the third cousin of the person that fired the shots and so he came down and he said he supports us 100 percent.”
The “shots fired” were those of nearby resident Larry Mattlage, whose land borders the protesters at their current location. After complaining about the proximity of the protesters, he fired a shotgun twice into the air Sunday – in order to prepare for duck hunting season, he said. Mattlage says at no time was he ever threatening the protesters with his shots.
Not all Americans agree with Mrs. Sheehan’s position. On Monday, a man was arrested and charged with vandalism of Camp Casey’s memorial for troops lost in Iraq. Around 10pm the previous night, authorities say the accused used his pickup truck to run over hundreds of small wooden crosses bearing names of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq.
In comments to the press, Bush offered sympathy to Sheehan, “I sympathize with Mrs. Sheehan. She feels strongly about her — about her position. And she has every right in the world to say what she believes.”, he said. However, he has still declined to meet her. “I think it’s important for me to be thoughtful and sensitive to those who have got something to say.” Bush told reporters, “But, I think it’s also important for me to go on with my life, to keep a balanced life.”
Others have commented that Sheehan is being used by those with their own agendas, “What started out as a grieving mom that we all sympathized with has now turned into … an orchestrated far-left campaign,” commented Greg Mueller, a conservative public-relations executive.
A former FBI special agent, Rowley, and Becky Lourey, whose son was killed in Iraq, will leave for Texas on Thursday and camp at the site for a few days.
Rowley said, “It puts a human face on this issue; many people, if they don’t have a personal connection to the troops, it’s so easy for this to become a discussion that lacks seriousness and urgency. I think it’s good to show that there are real people that are being affected.”
“Our children are dying and I think it’s time to go support Cindy and see if Bush will come out and we can say, ‘President Bush, what is the mission exactly?’,” Becky Lourey added. “Truth has been shifting all around and I think we need to rejoin the world community and not occupy another nation.” Lourey said.
Sheehan wants the withdrawal of all troops from Iraq. President Bush claims that leaving Iraq now wouldn’t be helpful for Iraqis or Americans, but only for terrorists.