David Cline, Friend of Peace, RIP

“We are not the first group to call for impeachment. We have decided to add our voice to the call. All the reasons given for the invasion have shown themselves to be half-truths or misleading. The conflict continues to drag on taking the lives of our soldiers and innocent Iraqis. It is clear that George Bush does not intend to change course in an effort to right this great wrong. He has had enough time in his second term to begin a shift and he has not. It is time to remove him from office.” — David Cline, then President of the VFP, March ‘05

I met Dave Cline on August 4th, 2005, just two days before myself and about 40 members of the Veterans for Peace (and about 2 dozen others ranging from Military Families Speak Out, Iraq Vets Against the War, Vietnam Vets Against the War, and my group, Gold Star Families for Peace and Texas peace activists) made our historic walk down Prairie Chapel Road on August 6th.

I regret that I made Dave’s life a wee bit harder those few days during that August. Being one of the main speakers at the VFP National Convention that year was just incidental to my determination to ask George “what noble cause” did he kill my son Casey for and what noble cause was keeping our troops in Iraq, dying and killing innocent Iraqis.

Dave got a hold of me that first night at the Bar-be-que and he told me that I was causing a division at the Convention because most of the Vets wanted to go with me and their very important annual business meeting was happening the same day I had decided to confront George in Crawford. I had already told the world I was going on August 6th, so Dave and I reached an agreement that a “platoon” of Vets would go with me (some defied “orders” and followed us to Crawford, anyway) and the rest would stay at the Convention. In fact, I rode from Dallas to Crawford (the first of what would become many such trips) on the Veterans for Peace Impeachment Bus.

The VFP and Dave turned out to be huge supporters of Camp Casey that year and throughout these past years, as they had supported me and Gold Star Families for Peace when I first learned of them at the Arlington West display in Santa Barbara. Dave spent a lot of time in Crawford that summer and his experience in the peace movement and beyond have always been a touchstone in my life as a budding activist.

Each time I have seen Dave since then, I have been troubled at the seeming deteriorating condition of his health, and amazed and inspired by his energy and resolve to see the end of the Iraq occupation. The last time I saw him a few months ago, I hugged him and was shocked at how thin he was and how tenuous his connection to life was. I am deeply saddened by his passing, honored by our friendship. Our country has sadly lost a true warrior for peace.

Many of you know already that Dave was wounded three times in Vietnam and was a major leader in the GI resistance to that horribly messy lie. I would recommend watching the film Sir, No Sir! to get a great historical perspective on that important movement which had a great impact on ending the war and which Dave Cline had an enormous impact on.

I have been contemplating how to honor Dave and his lifelong sacrifice for peace.

For myself, I will be making donations to two organizations: Courage to Resist (for Iraq war resisters) and Veterans for Peace to help continue their very important truth in recruitment work. I am continually puzzled that after 4 ½ years of a proven illegal and immoral war that our dreadfully abused troops are repeatedly allowing themselves to be misused and sent into a situation that is inherently evil. With over one million Iraqis dead and millions wounded, or displaced, our troops must have the courage to resist being used as pawns in a deadly game of genocide and destabilization of an entire region. A growing GI resistance movement would honor Dave’s memory. Preventing our young people from enlisting in the imperial forces of the USA is imperative for reining in a destructively out of control war machine which Dave fought against so courageously.

Dave’s death is also a wake-up call for how our veterans from Vietnam are still dying from war related causes (either directly, or indirectly). A friend of mine from Houston who is in MFSO just lost her Vietnam veteran husband this past week, too. It is abominable for a country to send its young people to die for lies and not care for those who come home broken in body and spirit.

It will be so hard to go to peace events and not see my friend Dave there. He worked so tirelessly to end the imperialistic occupation of Vietnam and prevent the corporate/military invasion of Iraq and I hope he passed knowing he did everything humanly possible and his life had high value, deep meaning, and his work honored the memory of Casey, almost 4,000 Americans killed in Iraq and almost 60,000 needlessly KIA in Vietnam. His work and inspiration has helped thousands of other veterans channel their anger and PTSD into positive activities for peace.

I also believe a way to honor Dave’s life would be for the present peace movement to recommit itself to this immensely important work and find peace within our ranks and put aside egos and personal agendas to achieve that for which Dave sacrificed so much:

True and lasting peace.

Cindy Sheehan is the mother of Spc. Casey Sheehan who was killed in Bush's war of terror on 04/04/04. Sheehan is a congressional candidate running against Nancy Pelosi in San Francisco. You can visit her campaign website at CindyforCongress.org. She is the co-founder and president of Gold Star Families for Peace and The Camp Casey Peace Institute. Read other articles by Cindy, or visit Cindy's website.