They Are Not Numbers
By Cindy Sheehan
t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Saturday 22 October 2005

I received this email the other day. I have removed the names:

Dear Ms. Sheehan
I wasn't sure how else to contact you, so am sending this thru the gsfp website. I just want to thank you for posting your essay entitled "A Peaceful Day," dated October 17th on the website, a site I visit every weekday.
My cousin, "brave soldier," 30, originally of Indiana, was one of the five US soldiers killed on Saturday, October 15th - Iraq's "peaceful day." He is survived by his wife, his two children, his parents, his sister, our grandma, his aunt, his two uncles and his two cousins. We are currently awaiting confirmation per DNA identification.
I thank you for taking notice. The loss of his life and that of his comrades does not make for a peaceful day - may their souls will rest in peace.
Thank you for your efforts.

I received this email today from a distraught Gold Star Mother:

I have so many questions ... How I do I stop the vulgar pain in my chest? How do I do this? How I do I continue to breathe but cannot live? How do I do this? How do I keep my soul in my body? How do I do this? How do I close my eyes wondering if sleep should come but yet knowing if I sleep I will awaken to know this is not a nightmare but my life? How do I do this? How do I love someone with my very being but cannot ever hold him again? How do I do this? How do I go on without that sweet face that brought more joy to my life than I ever deserve - never to be seen by my eyes again? How do I do this? How do I stop the scream that no one hears but me? How do I do this? PLEASE TELL ME ... how do I live without my child, my son, my heart, my soul, my joy, my validation to my life ... Please tell me ... how do I do this? How does the world go on without Steven ... how do I do this?

I received this email yesterday from a mom who doesn't "qualify" to be a Gold Star Mother (from the other org., she does belong to GSFP) because her son committed suicide. He suffered horribly from PTSD.

He (Gov. Mitt Romney, R-Ma) was asked about his five boys, and his answer was that they were grown, with families, and they made their own choices. He then reminded everyone that our children chose to enlist. Aggressively recruited would be a better phrase. And then not told the truth, only to discover like my son that he had made a big mistake. He went on to say that he had attended all the funerals. Kevin said simple, no you haven't ... Both Kevin and Debbie felt that the wall was up and that no change of attitude would be forthcoming from our Bush "yes" man. On the positive side, his chief of staff spoke to Kevin privately about veteran affairs and that they would like to improve the system.
I find that I can't get Jeffrey out of my mind. I can see him at 11-12 years old jumping in the car, when I'd pick him up at a friends. It's so real ... it's almost like you can reach out and touch him. What a world of hell this administration has put us in. One we will live in all the rest of our days ...

The 2000th tragically appalling death of American troops is, unfortunately, coming up rapidly in Iraq.

The official death count today from the War Department's Casualty site is 1992. The toll could reach 2000 within a couple of days.

Of the 1992, 13 are pending notification. I have written about "pending notification" before. 13 families are going through their normal lives today not even knowing that the other shoe is about to drop. They have been worrying about their loved one for days, weeks, or even months. Some of them may know that 11 of our children have been killed in the last 2 days, and they may be anxiously awaiting news. Will it be their lives destroyed today? Or is it another family who was randomly picked by the universe to suffer this violent assault on their homes?

There are so many people in our country today who are happily certain that their lives are not about to be turned upside down because their darling child will be killed in a meaningless war. This would include every member of this criminal administration and Congress and every person who puts headphones on and spews right-wing hate from their mouths. Not one of these people who mostly support the war, either out-spokenly, or tacitly by their silence in not calling for an end to the occupation of Iraq, have any idea of the horror of lying awake at night worried about your wonderful child, or walking around all day with an icy-cold stomach because you heard that soldiers were killed in Iraq today.

We know that George Bush and his supporters, who are crumbling like 3-day-old sugar cookies, care not one whit about the people they have sent to die and kill innocent people in Iraq. We know that George, Dick, Condi (who I believe is the Deputy Secretary of War ... she never thinks of the Diplomatic solution), Donny (in charge of the killing department), and the rest will never admit that they made a mistake, because guess what, folks? Things are going just as they have planned in Iraq! They are happy as clams in their shells that things are in chaos and turmoil in the Middle East. That means that they and their partners in crime can rake in more money, rape Iraq of its resources and empty our treasury of money and our communities of future leaders.

The little vignettes of pain that I have shared with you are just 3 stories out of millions. Out of the tens of thousands of mothers in Iraq who have had their children killed, how many of them remember their baby boy or pre-teen child with their innocent eyes reflected with the mom's hopes and dreams of their future?

Casey had such a bright future ahead of him. Someone asked me the other day what I miss about him the most. I just miss him. I miss everything about him. I miss his presence on this planet. I miss his naïve joy and heartbreaking hope for the future. I miss his future and I remember his past with love and pain.

On the sorrowful day of the 2000th soldier killed, I am sure there will be candlelight vigils all over the country to honor the ones who have been killed. That is nice, but that doesn't help bring our other troops home or insure the safety of the Iraqi people.

On the day of the 2000th, I will be in DC. I will go to the White House. Our house. I will sit on the sidewalk again and demand that the war criminals who live and work in there bring our troops home. I suggest, instead of candlelight vigils and singing "Give Peace a Chance," every person who cares about ending the immorality of the occupation of Iraq take signs and their presence to their Congressional offices near them and demand that each and every Congress person do everything in his/her power to bring our precious lifeblood home from the nightmare. It is time to get peacefully radical.

The day of the wrought-with-voting-fraud constitutional referendum in Iraq, George said:

"Democracies are peaceful countries."

Let's hold him and our other elected officials accountable for that hypocritical statement. If George won't make it so, we must!

Our young people aren't numbers. Our young people are confined to early graves because of criminals who should be confined to prison, who are profiting handsomely from the undeclared mess in Iraq. The Iraqi people are less than numbers. If they are counted or thought of at all, they are very often wrongly counted as "insurgents," when they are children and women.

If mere numbers will wake America up, think of Dr. and Mrs. Death (Donny and Condi) when they say that this occupation could last at least a dozen or more years.

What number are you comfortable with? One was too much for me.