My son, Casey
Austin Sheehan, was born on May 29, 1979. After a long labor,
he was born on Memorial Day. I would look into his eyes and see
a depth of wisdom there from the time he was born. He was born
with an "old soul." As a proud mom, I knew, and I would tell everyone
who would listen to me, that he was going to be a great man. I
was right. I just didn't realize how great he was going to be
... or how much his moment of greatness was going to hurt me.
a very good baby. From the time he was about 7 months old and
had gone into his own room, he would wake up in the morning and
talk to himself and play with his crib gym. His dad and I would
lie in our room and listen to him play. When he learned to walk,
he would come up behind me when I would be doing the dishes and
he would throw his arms around my legs, kiss me on the butt, and
say: "I wuv you mama." He had a little teddy bear that he called
"Bear." He ate all the fur off of it and he ate all the fuzz from
the inside of it. He wouldn't go to bed without it though. I still
have his bear and it is now sitting on the shelf by the flag that
was draped over his coffin.
our first born. We had three more children after him. Carly, Andy,
and Janey. Their dad, my husband Pat, made our family of six complete.
We did everything together. The kids went to Catholic school together.
Even when one of us would want a frozen yogurt, we would all pile
into "Vanna White," our white chevy Astro Van, and we would go
to Bellflower, to Yogurt Lee, together. There was no such thing
as one of us going and bringing yogurt home for everybody. We
all just went.
On most Friday
nights, we would have "Chicks and Dudes" night. After a long week
of work, school, and other activities, we would go out to dinner.
Usually at Chris and Pitts in Bellflower, where you could get
a good and filling barbeque dinner for about 25 dollars for our
entire family of six. Anyway, we would go home and watch TGIF
on ABC. Full House and the show that Steve Urkel was on were among
the shows on TGIF. The "Chicks:" me, Carly, and Janey, would go
in the parent's room to watch TGIF; the "Dudes:" Pat, Casey, and
Andy, would stay in the living room and watch the shows. The kids
still remember those nights fondly. The boys having some quality
time with their dad and the girls doing the same with their mom.
assumed Casey was
going to be a priest, because he was
so faithful to God and to the church.
He never missed mass, even when he
went into the Army. If he was on post,
he went to mass. He served his church
in every capacity that a lay person can.
He also was very involved with the
youth ministry of our parish, especially
when I was the Youth Minister.
always a good boy. He could play for hours by himself. He loved
Nintendo, G.I. Joes, World Wrestling Federation, baseball (especially
the Dodgers), his church and God. He joined Cub Scouts when he
was in 1st grade and he eventually earned the rank of Eagle Scout.
He became an altar boy when he was 8 and he continued serving
his church for the rest of his life. He loved to act and was in
the International Thespian Society when he was in high school.
Before he joined the Army, he earned an A.A. degree in drama.
He was a reporter for his college newspaper. He never talked back
to his dad or me. He rarely fought with his brother and sisters.
He loved our animals and he loved little children.
assumed Casey was going to be a priest, because he was so faithful
to God and to the church. He never missed mass, even when he went
into the Army. If he was on post, he went to mass. He served his
church in every capacity that a lay person can. He also was very
involved with the youth ministry of our parish, especially when
I was the Youth Minister. Even after he graduated from high school,
he stayed active in the ministry, helping me as a young adult
Casey confided in me, though, that he wanted to get married and
have children. He hoped one day to be a permanent Deacon in the
church. Deacons can get married and serve the church in various
ways. Casey also confided to me that he was a virgin and he wanted
to save himself and give his virginity to his wife as a wedding
present. He took lots of heat for that in the Army. Pat and I
always wondered why he would even tell anyone he was still a virgin,
but he did. His buddies would say: "Sheehan, you gotta get laid."
He would just say: "Naw, that's okay."
such a good Christian and good Catholic, that when his chapel
on Ft. Hood started a new Knights of Columbus Council, they named
it the "Spc. Casey Austin Sheehan Council." The brother Knights
told Pat and me that he embodied everything that they want to
stand for: Love of God, Country, Family, Church, and Service.
Pat and I were honored that they would name their Council after
Casey. Casey's name and what he stood for will always be remembered
in Ft. Hood. The Knights were going to name their new Council
after a Priest who had served there for quite awhile, but after
they heard about Casey's heroic sacrifice they decided to name
the Council after him. They all voted unanimously to do this.
I hope this war ends before
other mothers have to go through this.
I hope that our planet and world
survives four more years of the lies
and betrayals of this president.
In the beginning
of this essay, I told you the day Casey was born, but I bet you
have guessed from the body of the essay that Casey is no longer
with us. Casey joined the Army in May, 2000. His recruiter told
him that he would be able to finish college, be a Chaplain's Assistant,
receive a $20,000 signing bonus, and most insidiously and heartbreakingly,
that he would never see combat. Casey scored so high on the ASVAB
(military competency test) that he would only be in a support
role and he would never be in a battle. Well, every promise that
Casey's recruiter made to him, he broke. The only promise that
I care about, though, is the one where Casey would never see battle.
the First Cavalry Division, out of Ft. Hood, was sent to Iraq
in March, 2004. He called home once from Kuwait on March 14th.
He said he was hot, they had been busy getting ready to convoy
to Baghdad, and he was on his way to Mass (naturally). His company,
Charlie Battery, convoyed peacefully to Baghdad and reached their
post F.O.B. War Eagle in Sadr City on March 19th. On April 4th,
Palm Sunday, we got the word that Casey had been killed in an
ambush. The first chance he got, my brave, wonderful, faithful,
sweet, gentle and kind boy volunteered for a rescue mission as
a Combat Life Saver.
He was a Humvee mechanic who never should have gone on a mission
like that. Casey and 20 of his buddies were sent into a raging
insurgent uprising to rescue wounded soldiers. Only 13 of them
returned. Casey was riding in the back of a trailer with no protection
when they were ambushed. He was killed within minutes of the ambush.
He was able to return fire and buy some time for his unit. His
actions that day saved lives. Casey is a hero who belongs to history
now, but I wish he were a living breathing coward. So I could
still talk to him, e-mail him, send him care packages, Christmas
Presents, hug him and never let go when he got back from War.
has devastated my family, but especially me. My sweet boy who
never passed up a chance to kiss my behind and tell me he "wuvs"
me is gone forever. God, I hope this war ends before other mothers
have to go through this. I hope that our planet and world survives
four more years of the lies and betrayals of this president. Eventually,
this war will end, as all wars end. This president will either
bumble through four more years, or he will do something so egregious
that he will be impeached. But when this nightmare is over for
the world, it will go on for me. Forever, and ever, without end.
Cindy Sheehan is a co-founder of Gold Star Families for Peace.
Her son was killed in Iraq on April 4th, 2004. This letter was
first published at www.truthout.org.