In the G.W. Bush era, hers became almost a household name -- and she famously was a burr under the saddle for that now ex-President -- when she camped outside the Bush ranch in Texas in 2005 to protest the tragic and needless loss of her son, U.S. Army Specialist Casey Sheehan, and the war in Iraq.
This raggedy collection of tents and sleeping bags that housed a loyal army of supporters known as "Camp Casey" attracted national attention -- both to her as well as to her anti-war cause.
It could be argued that Cindy Lee Sheehan was that decade's Occupier: she went where she wasn't welcome, claimed a patch of land that wasn't hers, found herself surrounded by surly, and unfriendly forces, but tenaciously continued to exercise her first amendment rights to "speak truth to power."
Fast-forward to today and we find Cindy as the (almost) U.S. Vice Presidential candidate of the Peace and Freedom party -- she declined her nomination this month over her dissatisfaction with running-mate Roseanne Barr's lackluster commitment to campaign for the presidency -- and still annoying the powers-that-be.
The Peace and Freedom experience? "The campaign was a huge disappointment for me," Cindy says, adding that, in her view running-mate Roseanne Barr was on the ticket primarily as a "vanity issue."
Harsh words, but not unexpected from a woman who has no problem ruffling feathers and is more than ready to call people out without regard for her own popularity or for the social position or status of the person suffering her indignation.
She has her own soapbox with which to do this -- literally
Her Internet radio show called "Cindy Sheehans's Soap Box" exists to provide counterpoints to the Mainstream Media pap and to entertain subject that get little, if any, attention there. Examples: Her take on the VP and presidential debates, the "left-right paradigm" and even movie reviews (Argo).
(I caught up with Cindy just prior to her departure to the east coast and a book tour at the end of October to complete a "15 Minutes of Fact" interview. Once she dispensed with her views on Roseanne, she laced into the throttling of third-parties in California and our participation in wars in the middle east and so much more.)
As for the Occupiers? She described herself as thrilled and heartened when the tents first went up in Zuccotti Park and not at all surprised that they were torn down. The encampment featured all the things she holds dear: people embracing aspects of socialism, equality, feminism, anti-war and anti-capitalism stands -- all huddled together in that cold, concrete Manhattan public space.
Cindy offers suggestions, some of which Occupiers may not want to hear but must definitely to take to heart. Other than that you must be tireless and that you must not stop, you must also focus on primarily one or two important issues. Her recommendation: draw attention to the terrible effects that America's wars are having on our society.
It's not just Wall Street, it's the financing of wars by and for the benefit of Wall Street.
Oh yes, another admonition that Occupy has heeded from its beginnings. It makes no difference to an activist as to which political party is in power as both are held in thrall by lobbyists and their deep-pocket employers.
You may also have to give up any thoughts of personal comfort and a home in the suburbs. You will likely have neither. Activism can be a painful contact sport.
In Cindy's case, it was not an easy road to travel from being a grieving gold star mother to "Peace Mom" and ceaseless advocate for the change needed to create a better world. If you have a weak stomach or spine, Occupiers, you may just want to rethink your commitment.
On the other hand, there are rewards and satisfactions if you can treasure, as Cindy does, each and every win, however small or large. With no intent to write an early epitaph, it is not a stretch to predict that warrior may one day be acknowledged as a patron saint for the OWS movement.
Cindy's supporters and fans continue to contribute to her expenses and her campaigns and her speaking and travel schedule -- including her upcoming east coast visit -- can be found at her "soapbox" website as well as on Facebook as CindyLeeSheehan, and on Twitter as @Cindy_Sheehan.
If not yet the "patron saint," she still deserves to be the North Star by which Occupy can set its sails.
Follow Jerry Ashton on Twitter: www.twitter.com/WrittenOffUSA