Open Wounds

Blood is the fluid of life, coursing through our veins and providing oxygen to the body.

Army Spc. Casey Austin Sheehan’s blood was spilled in Iraq on April 4, 2004. That day began an odyssey for his mother, Cindy, who has worked diligently to stop the shed of war blood and to galvanize an antiwar movement. Tragically, more than 2,600 American soldiers have died in the war that claimed Casey. Almost 20,000 troops have been wounded, some with debilitating injuries that will impact their lives until they die and will affect their families as long as they breathe. Tens of thousands of Iraqis have perished in this bloodbath delivered by George Bush and his neo-con, criminal band of brothers who have DNA evidence all over their bodies, dripping from their clothing, and coagulating under their fingernails.

Cindy Sheehan has just been released from a Waco hospital where she was treated for exhaustion and dehydration and was transfused after losing almost five pints of blood. This ordeal is nothing compared to the heart-shattering agony of hearing the words, “We regret to inform you,” a message delivered over and over as more blood seeps into the Iraq sand each day.

Sheehan’s physical ailment is a metaphor for the condition of our country. The United States of America is collapsing, bereft of the fluid of life we’ve allowed to ooze and pour onto foreign soil under a banner of patriotism and a blanket of ignorance and denial.

Almost every single day, two of our troops die in Iraq and at least 100 Iraqis are killed in sectarian violence, a civil war the president still defends as part of a struggle between freedom and terror. He should be ashamed. He should be condemned. He deserves prosecution for the deception he designed to invade a country that had no weapons of mass destruction and no connection to the events of 9/11. Those in Congress continuing to support and fund this catastrophe should be Joe Liebermanized. All people who remain silent about the lies that have destroyed families here at home and in Iraq bear responsibility.

We live in violent times made more savage by an administration’s distortions. Every word from the mouth of George Bush is a rallying cry for terrorists. Each utterance is a challenge to Muslim youth for jihad against American imperialism.

Bush is exchanging our soldiers’ lives for oil. He is using our children to further his greed to dominate and control the resources of the Middle East. He is politicizing death.

We are bleeding as a result of the president’s insatiable lust for power.

The dangerous amount of blood that Cindy Sheehan lost has been replenished. But medical experts can do nothing to ease the grief Casey’s death has brought. There is no transfusion for the heart. Over 2,600 families in this country feel the never-ending pain that bonds Sheehan to the despair and suffering of the Iraqis whose lives and culture have been destroyed.

Casey Sheehan was nurtured for nine months in his mother’s womb. For the next 24 years of his brief life, this sustenance continued with unwavering and unconditional mother love.

Cindy Sheehan’s womb is bleeding.

Our country is bleeding.

Iraq is bleeding.

And our Democracy is losing its life’s blood, our civil liberties.

If we aren’t infused soon with compassion, tolerance, and a commitment to peace, our country will be as dead as the conscience of George W. Bush.

Missy Beattie lives in New York City. She’s written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. An outspoken critic of the Bush Administration and the war in Iraq, she’s a member of Gold Star Families for Peace. She completed a novel last year, but since the death of her nephew, Marine Lance Cpl. Chase J. Comley, in Iraq on August 6,’05, she has been writing political articles. She can be reached at:



Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail: