You could feel it was going to be a scorcher almost before the sun came up. Most of us were already suffering from sunburns and fire-ant bites from a few days of Texas sun. The interview requests have been overwhelming so we organized afternoon and morning pools. Cindy was tired from an unexpected call very early in the morning from the Today show and the heat and sun exhaustion from the day before.
The first question of the morning pool came from a young soldier who had just returned from Iraq. He was polite, addressing her as Ms. Sheehan. Surrounded by cameras he told her he was sorry for her son's death -- he said he had lost many friends in the Iraq war also. "Death is a part of war and what we are doing is more important, bringing freedom to the world. Think of all the people who died for the freedom we enjoy. So your son's life is just a drop in the bucket."
Those of us standing behind the cameras gasped, but Cindy continued to listen to him calmly and openly. Caught short by the gasp, the soldier quickly added, "But I feel for your son." At this moment Cindy put her arm on his shoulder and, holding him to her side, walked with him out into the field. She asked the press to give them some privacy. They honored her in a way that I have never seen before. They were still shooting photos as the two walked away. Like a mother, Cindy drew the young man close, and they spoke for about five minutes -- during which the shift in his feeling was palpable. He stepped away and pulled out a book he had written about his experiences in Iraq and gave it to her. Then they hugged -- a long deep embrace. You could see the conversation continuing.
Cindy walked back toward s us and the press as the soldier left. Yet again, this woman had made me cry with her strength, her love and her courage. (Everyone else in the camp had tried to keep this young man from confronting her.)
As we walked back to our makeshift office in Casey's camper, she told me, "Do you know what that young man said as we were hugging? He said his mother agrees with me, and that if he had been killed in Iraq she would have done the same thing. And then he called me Mom."