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Your policies have created a
hole in my heart and in our family that can never be filled

January 9, 2005

To the Secretary of Defense:

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld at a recent news conference made a plea for understanding of his concern for the lives of U.S. soldiers in Iraq. He stated that, "I hope and pray that every family member of those who have died so bravely knows how deeply I feel their loss," and that he "stays awake at night for concern for those at risk." And that the grief of their loved ones "is something that I feel to my core." Letter to the editor: Vacaville Reporter: Jan. 9, 2005.

You claim that you deeply feel our loss and you are trying to appear very compassionate and caring. It is my feeling since my son, Spc Casey Austin Sheehan, was killed in Sadr City in an ambush on 04/04/04, that the soldiers that have been sent over there to die for your administration's lies and betrayals, are the least of your concerns. If you really cared about our brave young men and women who have been put into harms' way for no reason, you would have brought them home months ago when it was proven that Iraq had no WMD's; no connection with 9/11; when Saddam was captured and the Iraqis were given freedom from him; etc. If you cared about our soldiers before the falsehoods were exposed to the light, you would have sent them over to fight a war with the proper planning, training, armor, equipment and supplies. You would have been more realistic and planned better for the occupation.

Now the big story that you and yours are telling is that America has troops over in Iraq to bring Iraqis democracy and to give them control of their own country. One of our questions for you would be: if this is true, after the sham elections and after you all have your puppet government installed in Iraq are you going to bring our troops home? After the elections, what's going to be the reason to keep our young people in danger? What's going to be the reason to keep millions of innocent Iraqis in danger?

My son was told that he would be going to Iraq to rebuild schools, sewer systems and relationships with the people of Iraq...he was lied to, also. He was told that he would be welcomed as a "liberator" with "chocolates and flowers." Well, he was killed two short weeks after he arrived in Iraq and he wasn't killed by chocolates and was RPG's and small arms fire. Since you all have tried to equate Saddam and Osama and make we citizens of the USA believe that they are the same two people, are you trying to convince us that chocolates and flowers are the same as grenades and bullets? Using double-speak are we to believe that "liberator" and "occupier" are one and the same?

Mr. Rumsfeld, you tried these politics of fear in the Ford administration, and you are playing them again with us. I just want to let you know that there are some people who aren't afraid...we are fighting to bring our children home from this illegal and immoral war and we are fighting to bring peace and democracy back to our country.

There is a group of Gold Star families who are going to be in Washington, DC for the Inauguration between January 19th and January 21st. We have requested a meeting with you and we haven't received one yet. My challenge to you would to be for you to meet with us if you care so much for and feel our losses so deeply. It would be an excellent opportunity for you to prove that you have compasssion for our children and truly do care about our losses. We, as families, have many other questions for you, also For example: The DOD still says that my son's death is "under investigation." When I request information, I do not even get a reply. My son was killed due to the lack of proper training, proper armor, proper equipment and proper planning...why? Your public answers to questions such as these have been inadequate and very flippant and instead of bringing peace and assurance to many of us Gold Star families, your statements hurt us more deeply.

In requesting our meeting, we the families gave you a deadline to respond to us...that deadline is January 10, 2005. We come from all over the country and we all have numerous media contacts. As I stated last week, if we do not hear from your office regarding this meeting, we are going to the media. I think your attitude about the safety of our troops and lack of compassion for not signing the so-called "death" letters has been a very big news story and I think the media would be interested to know that you won't meet with us. I think the media would also be interested to know that you will meet with us if a meeting is set up.

Mr. Secretary: In the above quote you stated that you "stay up at night" with concern for those at risk. Well, I haven't had a good night of sleep, free of nightmares since 04/04/04. My nights are full of grief and my days are full of pain. My family just passed our first Christmas without Casey and it was so depressing. I couldn't even bring myself to get my decorations out. I couldn't bear to see Casey's stocking which has been hung in joyful anticipation for the last 25 years. We just passed the nine month "anniversary" of his death: he was in my womb for his first nine months and the last nine months he has been in the womb of our mother earth.

I wish I could convey to you in person the pain and devastation your reckless policies have brought to my life: the grief is so profound and primal that it can't easily be described by the written word. You can't see my red, swollen eyes or my grief-etched face. At this point, I have the feeling that you think that my son was a spendable resource for you, like a bullet or a bomb...but my son was an indispensible part of our family and my heart and soul. Your policies have created a hole in my heart and in our family that can never be filled. Never.

I think it is your responsibility to meet with us and our right as Americans and families of heroes to be granted this meeting. I know it would ease our minds to have the answers to our questions and the assurance that you really do feel our losses deeply. A meeting with us would be a chance to put your words into action. This will be my 3rd and final request.

Cindy Sheehan

Casey Sheehan's website