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Anti-war activist to speak

Katie Kohler | Thursday, April 12, 2007

Cindy Sheehan, the anti-war activist who lost her son in Iraq and generated international attention by protesting outside President Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas, will speak about the war today at 10:30 a.m. in Carroll Auditorium at Saint Mary’s.

“Sheehan’s visit serves to remind us of the events of the war and that we can effect change, even four years later,” said Bridget Hahn, president of Peacemakers – a social justice group on campus.

Following the death of her son, Casey, in Iraq, Sheehan demonstrated at a peace camp outside Bush’s Texas ranch during his five-week vacation there in August 2005. She created Camp Casey by pitching a tent at the ranch and demanding an audience with the president – a demand ultimately not granted.

She is also one of the nine founding members of Gold Star Families for Peace, an organization that seeks to end the U.S. occupation in Iraq and provide support for the families of fallen soldiers.

Sheehan is presently on a speaking tour of Indiana colleges and universities. The College Democrats, the main sponsors and organizers of the event, were contacted by Sheehan’s assistant, Kathy Liggett, and asked to host Sheehan. Liggett is also a member of Americans Against the Escalation in Iraq.

“We saw it as an incredible opportunity and did not want to pass it up,” Angela Rosato, vice president of the College Democrats said.

Sheehan is stopping briefly at Saint Mary’s before traveling to Indianapolis. Elaine Meyer-Lee, director of the Center for Women’s Inter-Cultural Leadership (CWIL), recognizes the visit as monumental for Saint Mary’s.

“We at CWIL are happy to be able to draw on relationships to contribute to our students’ engagement in dialogue around pressing and timely global issues,” she said.

Rosato is hoping of a turnout of over 200 people.

“This is probably a relatively small crowd for Sheehan, but I understand that she wanted a smaller audience due to the fact she has been traveling so much recently,” she said.

Sheehan’s visit is sponsored by the College Democrats, CWIL, the Women’s Resource Center, Peacemakers and Justice Education.

Jan Pilarski, director of the Justice Education program, recognizes Sheehan’s visit as a wake-up call for the past four years.

“We’ve now been in the Iraq war longer than we were in World War II,” she said. “The four-year mark is time for us to reflect on what we’ve done in Iraq and what it means for the future.

“As informed citizens, it is important for us to learn as much as we can about the war because it affects so many aspects of our lives.”

Sierra Campoli, an active member of the College Democrats and Peacemakers and one of the coordinators of the event, hopes Sheehan’s visit changes the opinions of many students about the war.

“I really encourage activism for peace as part of any group that is fighting for the same cause – to end this useless and senseless war,” she said.

Campoli also linked Sheehan’s visit to the overall mission of the College.

“We, as women of Saint Mary’s College, are here to train women who can make a difference in the world,” she said. “When we fight for a cause that changes the world, we are making a difference.”

Hahn noted Sheehan’s actions as personal, yet admirable.

“I feel that she did what she felt called to do, and there is nothing wrong with that,” she said. “I commend her on turning the devastating event of her son’s death into something positive. I support her anti-war efforts.”