Friday, August 19, 2005

komo news | Local Mom Joins Cindy Sheehan's Protest In Texas

Local Mom Joins Cindy Sheehan's Protest In Texas

August 19, 2005

By Tracy Vedder

SEATTLE - The military mom who started a national anti-war movement outside President Bush's Texas ranch has touched people here in our state.

In fact, one woman was so compelled by Cindy Sheehan's protest, she was compelled to travel to Texas and join her.

Lietta Ruger just got back from a week spent camped outside the Bush ranch. Ruger grew up a military brat, was a military wife and now has a son-in-law and a nephew in the Army.

She says it's that military connection that compelled her to travel to Texas and join in Sheehan's vigil.

"I just felt that I needed to get down there and stand with her because I'm fully in support of what she's attempting to do," Ruger said.

Sheehan's son Casey was killed in Iraq last year. She's been camped outside the President's ranch hoping to meet with him and ask him to bring the troops home.

Sheehan flew home to California Thursday night after her mother suffered a stroke, but hundreds of protesters remain, including relatives of other soldiers.

Ruger, of Bay Center, Washington, says she's never been an activist, until now. Over the past year she's protested the Iraq war locally, but going to Crawford, Texas, sleeping in a tent, and being a part of something she believes is growing, just felt right.

"For us as military families, carrying the disproportionate load of the Iraq war, it's our troops and our families affected."

Ruger knows other military moms disagree, but she insists the protest does not dishonor those who have lost loved ones. Yet nationally there's been criticism of Sheehan's vigil, including from other Gold Star moms who've lost sons in the war in Iraq.

Rosemary Palmer, whose son Bryon was 25 when he was killed said, "Sheehan has become a lightning rod. We want to open up the conversation -- you can support the troops and not support the way that this war is being waged right now."

And Janet Norwood lost her son Augie earlier this month. She said, "it breaks my heart to see all the coverage and something I consider to be negative and (the troops) might think that they are not being supported over there."

But Ruger believes it's military families' responsibility to speak out for those who can't.

Like her son-in-law, a soldier who asked to remain anonymous: "I can look back on this one day, and say I served in the U.S. military," he told KOMO 4 News, "and I take great pride in that."

In spite of that pride, this soldier doesn't feel safe showing his face. He's done one tour in Iraq and expects to do another. He also thinks the war is senseless. But it's not something he feels free to say publicly.

"If we say too much, then we can get in trouble for it. So, as a troop, we need people to speak for us."

As a soldier, he supports the right of protesters to speak.

"Not only do I support it, but there's thousands of soldiers out there that support it. We know what they're doing here in the states; they're speaking for us - we have no voice."

He may have no voice, but his mother in law does. And she vows to continue speaking on his behalf.

komo news | Local Mom Joins Cindy Sheehan's Protest In Texas


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