Cindy Sheehan, the soldier’s mother who galvanized an anti-war movement with her monthlong protest outside President Bush’s ranch, says she’s done being the public face of the movement.
“I’ve been wondering why I’m killing myself and wondering why the Democrats caved in to George Bush,” Sheehan told The Associated Press by phone Tuesday while driving from her property in Crawford to the airport, where she planned to return to her native California.
“I’m going home for awhile to try and be normal,” she said.
In what she described as a “resignation letter,” Sheehan wrote in her online diary on the “Daily Kos” blog: “Good-bye America ... you are not the country that I love and I finally realized no matter how much I sacrifice, I can’t make you be that country unless you want it.
“It’s up to you now.”
Sheehan began a grassroots peace movement in August 2005 when she set up camp outside the Bush ranch for 26 days, asking to talk with the president about the death of her son, Army Spc. Casey Sheehan. Casey Sheehan was 24 when he was killed in an ambush in Baghdad.
Protests grew in size Cindy Sheehan started her protest small, but it quickly drew national attention. Over the following two years, she drew huge crowds as she spoke at protest events, but she also drew a great deal of criticism.
“I have endured a lot of smear and hatred since Casey was killed and especially since I became the so-called “Face” of the American anti-war movement,” Sheehan wrote in the diary.
Kristinn Taylor, spokesman for FreeRepublic.com, which has held pro-troop rallies and counter-protests of anti-war demonstrations, said dwindling crowds at Sheehan's Crawford protests since her initial vigil may have led to her decision. But he also said he hopes she will now be able to heal.
"Her politics have hurt a lot of people, including the troops and their families, but most of us who support the war on terror understand she is hurt very deeply," Taylor said Tuesday. "Those she got involved with in the anti-war movement realize it was to their benefit to keep her in that stage of anger."
On Memorial Day, she came to some “heartbreaking conclusions,” she wrote.
When she had first taken on Bush, Sheehan was a darling of the liberal left. “However, when I started to hold the Democratic Party to the same standards that I held the Republican Party, support for my cause started to erode and the 'left' started labeling me with the same slurs that the right used,” she wrote.
“I guess no one paid attention to me when I said that the issue of peace and people dying for no reason is not a matter of 'right or left', but 'right and wrong,'” the diary says.
Sheehan criticized “blind party loyalty” as a danger, no matter which side it involved, and said the current two-party system is “corrupt” and “rapidly descending into with nary a check or balance: a fascist corporate wasteland.”
Harsh national assessment
Sheehan said she had sacrificed a 29-year marriage and endured threats to put all her energy into stopping the war. What she found, she wrote, was a movement “that often puts personal egos above peace and human life.”
But she said the most devastating conclusion she had reached “was that Casey did indeed die for nothing ... killed by his own country which is beholden to and run by a war machine that even controls what we think.”
“Casey died for a country which cares more about who will be the next American Idol than how many people will be killed in the next few months while Democrats and Republicans play politics with human lives,” she wrote. “It is so painful to me to know that I bought into this system for so many years and Casey paid the price for that allegiance. I failed my boy and that hurts the most.”
“I am going to take whatever I have left and go home,” Sheehan wrote. “Camp Casey has served its purpose. It’s for sale. Anyone want to buy five beautiful acres in Crawford, Texas?”
Sheehan told the AP that she had considered leaving the peace movement since last summer while recovering from surgery.
She said she was returning to California on Tuesday because it was Casey’s birthday. He would have been 28.
“We’ve accomplished as much here as we’re going to,” Sheehan told the AP. “When we come back, it definitely won’t be with the peace movement with marches, with rallies and with protests. It will be more humanitarian efforts.”