"Be the change you want to see in the world." - Mahatma Gandhi
The 2008 American Peace Award is awarded to Cindy Sheehan for her tireless activism to end the war in Iraq. The American Peace Award committee believes that in this contemporary political climate in America, it requires more skill to 'wage peace' than it does to wage war. Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a fallen soldier, made the courageous decision to stand against a war that she felt was unjust. Her individual protest led the way to public protest, resulting eventually in an increasing majority of Americans who view the Iraq invasion as a mistake.
“It's not patriotism when you say 'my country, right or wrong'.”
- Cindy Sheehan
Cindy Lee Miller Sheehan was born on July 10, 1957. A longtime resident of California, she is one of the strongest, most personal and persistent voices in the movement against the war in Iraq. Patrick and Cindy Sheehan had four children – Casey, Carly, Andy, and Janey. Casey was the eldest. The whole family was active in the church – Cindy was once a Youth Minister. They were a tightly knit family, which, according to Cindy, “did everything together.”
Cindy’s world changed forever when, on a mission on April 4, 2004 to help other troops in Sadr City, Spc. Casey Sheehan was tragically killed. She and other military families met with President George W. Bush in June of 2004. By October, Cindy decided her son’s death would spur her into action. She wrote, “I was ashamed that I hadn’t tried to stop the war before Casey died…Well, I now felt that if I couldn’t make a difference, I would at least try.”
During the January 2005 Presidential Inauguration of George W. Bush, Cindy was speaking at the opening of Eyes Wide Open: the Human Cost of War. The American Friends Service Committee had created a traveling exhibition of combat boots, each pair representing a U.S. military casualty. From this experience, the idea for Gold Star Families for Peace was born. In an interview, Cindy describes the organization as one that “I founded in January 2005. When a mom has a child killed in a war, she becomes a Gold Star Mom. Well, we expanded the idea to include all family members because an entire family is affected because of the death.” It is an activist and support group.
In August of 2005, Cindy camped in a ditch near President Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas. She was requesting a second personal meeting with the president, who had declared that the fallen soldiers had died for a “noble cause”. Cindy wanted to know exactly what that cause was, and to demand an immediate end to what she viewed as an unjust and immoral war. So many people, activists, and celebrities stopped by or joined in to show their support, that her somewhat spontaneous demonstration became known as “Camp Casey”. A neighbor offered the Camp Casey participants some land to use as their base. Camp Casey became a regular protest event, gathering when President Bush is in Crawford for holidays and vacations. Later, Cindy purchased land in Crawford where the protesters could camp. Cindy Sheehan has been called the "Peace Mom".
Sheehan has traveled extensively, meeting with people and leaders from around the world, and been featured in many protests and rallies. She is credited with having revived the anti-war protest, and providing a name and face for the peace and justice movement. Her quest to end the war, bring soldiers home, and hold politicians responsible for the decisions that sent the troops to Iraq initially, has been indefatigable.
Her published works include Not One More Mother’s Child – an account of her first year of activism, Dear President Bush – a collection of writings and speeches, and Peace Mom: A Mother’s Journey through Heartache to Activism.
(Biography courtesy of Robert Shetterly; https://www.americanswhotellthetruth.org )