By Darla Shelden
Remember Cindy Sheehan? She made national news when she became an anti-war activist after her son Casey was killed in Iraq, on April 4, 2004.
Sheehan, a Gold Star mom, was in Oklahoma City on Mother’s Day speaking to a group of supporters at the First Unitarian Church while on her cross country “Tour de Peace” bike ride.
In 2005, Sheehan established Camp Casey outside President George W. Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas. Thousands made their way there to protest the Iraq war.
Today Sheehan, 55, is an author who is busy with her blog “Cindy Sheehan’s Soapbox” while on her cycling tour.
Last April, on the 9th anniversary of Casey’s death, Sheehan’s 3000 mile bike ride across America began at the gravesite of her son in Vacaville, CA.
Sheehan plans a mass mobilization on July 3 at Arlington National Cemetery, ending her tour at the White House to present a list of demands posted on her website.
“Our goals include ending all the wars, ending America’s dependence on fossils fuels, and stopping subsidies to the oil companies,” Sheehan said. “That would allow us to invest in clean, renewable, sustainable forms of energy.”
Sheehan has Oklahoma roots. Her father was born in Sand Springs. “This is the first time I’ve spoken as an activist in Oklahoma. I’m very excited to be here,” she said.
Two other Oklahomans, both Gold Star fathers and anti war activists were in attendance.
John Scripsick, a farmer from Wayne, lost his son Marine Cpl. Bryan Scripsick, on September 6, 2007, while serving in Iraq.
“If it’s somebody else’s kid who gets killed, nobody cares,” Scripsick said.
“It’s a pleasure to meet Cindy because she knew the war was wrong before most Americans knew it,” Scripsick said. “It’s a shame that there are not more people concerned about what the government is doing with our kids.
“If your son or daughter is a freshman or sophomore in high school and they might be killed in four or five years, you’re going to pay more attention to what our foreign policies are.
“Our government put a recruiter in a high school to talk my son into joining the military, which Bush turned into his own personal gun club. Then they used him to get the oil.
“If a recruiter talks these kids into joining, then they better use them for our freedom and not just for getting another countries’ natural resources to benefit just a few.”
Warren Henthorn, from Choctaw, lost his son Army Spc. Jeffrey Henthorn in Iraq on Feb. 8, 2005.
“Cindy Sheehan is a true American hero,” said Henthorn. “Cindy, John and I have paid for these wars with the loss of a family member.
“Cindy has pointed these things out for many years. The people that got us into this mess should be held accountable or history will repeat itself.
“Who made out from these wars. The arms industry, oil industry, the super rich – not the soldiers that fight the wars, and not regular folks.”
Along the way Sheehan stopped at the Arlington West Cemetery on Santa Monica beach, at 29 Palms Military Base, and to protest the opening of the Bush Library in Dallas.
“When you step outside your comfort zone, a huge ripple effect happens that can make a positive change in society,” said Sheehan.
The bike tour is following Route 66 to Chicago with a quick detour to Tulsa, holding public events organized by local groups along the way.
A support van carries Sheehan’s sister, Dede Miller and longtime friends Malcolm Chaddock and Dan Levy, from Portland, Oregon.
“We have the opportunity to be local activists on a global scale because of technology,” Sheehan said. “People should get involved to make the world that’s closest to you a better place.”
Sheehan made unsuccessful bids for Congress in 2008 and for vice president in 2012. Her future plans include running for governor of California.
“I think we have to rely on ourselves more than the politicians because we have our own best interests at heart,” said Sheehan.
Also present was three tour Afghanistan war veteran Jacob George, coordinator of A Ride Till the End, a veteran-led perpetual bicycle ride for recovery and healing.
This month, two more Oklahomans, 1st Lt. Brandon Landrum from Lawton and Private 1st Class Charles P. McClure of Stratford, have been killed in Afghanistan.
“They accomplished everything they wanted to accomplish when they did away the draft,” Scripsick said, “That took the public out of the war picture.
“I’m 100 percent for the draft. That’s the only thing that’s going to stop these eternal wars.”
For more information visit www.tourdepeace.org.
Cindy Sheehan still protesting America’s wars with cross country bike tour. Two Oklahoma Gold Star fathers speak out
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