Parents speak out on (the latest) war

Cindy Sheehan’s vigil in Crawford, Texas renews questions about why America has gone to war in Iraq. Her son, Casey, 24, was killed in combat in Baghdad in April 2004. Sheehan’s requests for an audience with George W. Bush to discuss the purposes of the American occupation have been rebuffed the President and administration officials.

The story reminds me of an experience from my past. Working as a student intern at the Pentagon during the summer of 1967, I took a lunch break to watch a ceremony presenting a Congressional Medal of Honor posthumously to a Vietnam War soldier who had died heroically in battle. Two military bands played, including one in Revolutionary War costume, and cannons fired several volleys. Civilian and military bigwigs gathered on the steps of the fortress to drone their solemn speeches. The father of the young man received the medal, thanking the government officials for recognizing his son’s valor. Much to their chagrin, however, he added that he was not certain his son had died for a good cause. As I recall, he spoke with Congressmen about his doubts later that afternoon. His comments brought a storm of controversy in the press and on television. The country was just then beginning to wonder whether or not the war and its costs were justified.

Have we reached a similar turning point in public sentiments about Iraq?