TomPaine.com seldom runs open letters. This week, however, we're making an exception. In only a few days, Christians around the country and the world will be celebrating the birth of Jesus—also called the Prince of Peace. The backdrop to Christmas this year, of course, is the war in Iraq that a majority of Americans now believe was a mistake. Sheehan's heartfelt rebuke to Time offers a perspective we hope the nation will hear more of in 2005 as we contemplate the consequences of our leaders' recklessness.
Cindy Sheehan lives in California.
Dear Time Editors:
My son, Spc. Casey Sheehan was killed in Iraq on 04/04/04. This has been an extraordinary couple of weeks of "slaps in the faces" to us families of fallen heroes.
First, the Secretary of Defense—Donald Rumsfeld—admits to the world something that we as military families already know: The United States was not prepared for nor had any plan for the assault on Iraq. Our children were sent to fight an ill-conceived and badly prosecuted war. Our troops were sent with the wrong type of training, bad equipment, inferior protection and thin supply lines. Our children have been killed and we have made the ultimate sacrifice for this fiasco of a war, then we find out this week that Rumsfeld doesn't even have the courtesy or compassion to sign the "death letters"—as they are so callously called. Besides the upcoming holidays and the fact we miss our children desperately, what else can go wrong this holiday season?
Well let's see. Oh yes. George W. Bush awards the Presidential Medal of Freedom to three more architects of the quagmire that is Iraq. Thousands of people are dead and Bremer, Tenet and Franks are given our country's highest civilian award. What's next?
To top everything off—after it has been proven that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction, there were no ties between Saddam and 9/11 and over 1,300 brave young people in this country are dead and Iraq lies in ruins— what does Time Magazine do? Names George W. Bush as its "Man of the Year." The person who betrayed this country into a needless war and whom I hold ultimately responsible for my son's death and who was questionably elected, again, to a second term, is honored this way by your magazine.
I hope we finally find peace in our world and that our troops who remain in Iraq are brought home speedily—after all, there was no reason for our troops to be there in the first place. No reason for my son and over 1,300 others to have been taken from their families. No reason for the infrastructure of Iraq to be demolished and thousands of Iraqis being killed. No reason for the notion of a "happy" holiday to be robbed from my family forever. I hope that our "leaders" don't invade any other countries which pose no serious threat to the United States. I hope there is no draft. I hope that the five people mentioned here (and many others) will finally be held responsible for the horrible mistake they got our country into. I hope that competence is finally rewarded and incompetence is appropriately punished. These are my wishes for 2005.
This isn't the first time your magazine has selected a questionable man for this honor—but it's the first time it affected my family so personally and so sorrowfully.