28 December 2005
You have asked recently what the noble cause was for which your son died. As I sat down, pen in hand to answer this question I suddenly realized that I didn’t even know his name. What a terrible injustice it seemed that like most Americans, I suspect, I knew your name but not that of your hero son.
So, laying aside my pen I began to do a little research. In the process I learned that Army Specialist Casey Austin Sheehan, a devout Catholic and former Eagle Scout, assigned to the Army’s 82nd Field Artillery Regiment of the 1st Cavalry Division, was killed in action on April 4, 2004. On that fateful day, he volunteered for a mission in the then volatile insurgent hotbed of Sadr City, near Baghdad. There, his unit came under small arms and rocket-propelled grenade fire and along with seven other American soldiers Casey fell. I learned also that for his gallant sacrifice he was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.
You asked, Cindy, what noble cause your son’s death served. Allow me to answer that question as a humble and grateful tribute to the selfless sacrifice made by Casey and the many other men and women like him. Heroes whose honor and courage are all too often drowned out by certain shrill voices full of bitterness and animated by self-aggrandizement.
Casey died so that 25 million human beings in Iraq might have a small chance to breath the fresh air of freedom that many of us in America take for granted.
He died to right the wrong of decades of “Real Politic” foreign policy in the west which, however necessary at the time (to avert World War III), nevertheless condemned those same Iraqis to the despotic rule of “Our tyrant”- Saddam Hussein.
Casey died to end the bloodletting and carnage wrought by the brutal Baathist regime that, mercifully, is no more. He died to avenge the hundreds of thousands of mostly anonymous victims being found in mass graves in what was the cradle of civilization.
Your sons sacrifice forestalled the acquisition of chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons by a bloody tyrant who had shown an eagerness to use them. And in the wake of the inefficacy and corruption of the U.N. sanctions program, his possession of such nightmare weapons was, otherwise inevitable. In light of the clear nexus between the dictator and various terrorist groups with a burning hatred of freedom, Casey died to prevent those horrendous weapons being unleashed in our cities.
The U.S. military presence in Iraq, of which Casey was a part, also serves as a magnet drawing Islamic terrorists bent on murdering Americans away from we vulnerable civilians and into the teeth of our collective and righteous might.
I’ll leave it to you to judge the nobility of this reason, Cindy, but in the final analysis I believe Casey died for someone who is both eternally grateful and pitifully unworthy. I believe he died for me.
Sometimes memories fade quickly, but it was just a few short years ago, on a clear autumn morning, when the smoldering ruin of two great towers served to awaken a mighty, yet complacent nation. On that dreadful day this nation awoke from its slumber to the stark reality that there exist in this world men of pure evil and malice, unhindered by conscience, whose clear intent is to subjugate the entire world, or destroy it.
In that knowledge I thank the Almighty that in his magnificent beneficence he, by his grace, bestows upon our nation at every crossroads of history where liberty and peace are threatened, good and valiant men such as Casey who, like the great martyrs, stand willing to refresh God’s tree of liberty with their heroic blood.
As the adoring father of three young children I can only imagine the grief you must feel at the loss of your son in the prime of his young life. May the Lord, in his mercy, assuage your sorrow, temper your bitterness, soften your heart that you might see, as do your countrymen, the selfless sacrifice made by men such as your son upon the altar of freedom, for all mankind.
As I pen this little note, safe in my home in a sleepy suburb, I do so knowing that, as George Orwell said, “rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence upon those who would do us harm.” Your son, Cindy, was one of those men; our Guardian Angel, a Christian warrior of old who selflessly answered his country’s call to arms and marched forth into battle; he was a much better man than I.
You should take great comfort in knowing that Casey today sits astride a majestic mount, gleaming sword in hand, taking his rightful place amongst the great host of St. Michael. And all the faithful should rejoice that when the final battle is joined, Casey would follow his Captain, the Prince of Peace to glorious victory over the minions of darkness.
May God bless Casey Sheehan and all those noble warriors who have fallen in the service of freedom; that a righteous people may live, under God, in liberty.