RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Peace activist Cindy Sheehan got a standing ovation last night as she took the stage to address a standing-room-only crowd at Church of the Crossroads.
Anti-war activist cheered
Sheehan urges about 750 to help stop the war and impeach Bush
Peace activist Cindy Sheehan urged a standing-room-only crowd at the Church of the Crossroads last night to unite to stop the war in Iraq, impeach President Bush and "see justice" for those killed since the war started in 2003.
"If you don't want the war machine to invade your island, don't let it happen," said Sheehan, whose 24-year-old son died in Iraq and who gained international attention for staging an anti-war demonstration outside Bush's ranch in Texas.
"Anybody can do what I do. We are the checks and balances for our country. We would like to see justice," she told the crowd of about 750.
The two-hour event at the University Avenue church also featured former U.S. Foreign Service Deputy Chief and Honolulu resident Ann Wright, who participated in Sheehan's protest in Crawford, Texas.
"I think it's important that people learn the truth," said Mark-Anthony Pascua, a member of Not in Our Name, which organized the event. "You don't fight unjust wars."
After Sheehan spoke, the father of a Hawaii soldier who died in the war brought the audience to tears and spurred a standing ovation.
Paul Wessel, father of Pfc. Kevin Wessel, said his son "really loved this country" and "really loved being a soldier." He went to war, his father said, to take the place of a married man and because he did not want to leave his friends behind.
"Kevin sacrificed himself for the soldiers he was with," Wessel said, tears choking his speech. "We are losing this war via the death of a thousand cuts. We are losing two soldiers every day, and no matter how many we kill, they are being replaced."
Kevin Wessel would have been 21 years old today.
Before Sheehan's speech, two supporters of the U.S. war in Iraq held signs on the church lawn.
"I feel that people need to hear the other part of the story," said Judy Jones, who held a sign that read, "Support Our Troops."
"I feel we've really made some successes in Afghanistan and Iraq. I disagree with bringing the troops back before the job is done," she said.
Since her Texas demonstration, Sheehan has been traveling around the world, making speeches at conferences and leading anti-war protests.
Over the past week, Sheehan has been vacationing on Kauai. She was set to fly out of Honolulu last night, hours after the speech.
Last night, she told audience members that she never got involved in anything before her son's death because she believed she could not make a difference.
"But we are the ones that have the power," she said. "We have a voice."
She said Bush should either resign or be impeached for leading the country into war, and she promised to "fight to bring down the war machine in this country."
After the speech, Sheehan got a roaring round of applause. Many said they were happy that she was able to make an appearance in the islands.
"She's got a story to tell and the courage to tell it," said Scott Allen, an administrator at a private school.
Wright, who resigned in 2003 to protest the U.S. invasion of Iraq, told audience members that the anti-war movement "needs help" from more citizens.
"We have to be really, really, really tough right now," Wright said. "This is a very serious and deadly time."