Marine Cpl. Matthew Matula, killed in Iraq April 9, 2004
The continued focus by the nation’s media on Cindy Sheehan, the so-called “Peace Mom” who’s demanding a second meeting with President Bush in the wake of her son’s death, is sparking a backlash from parents of other American servicemen and women in Iraq.
One Texas family of a fallen Marine became so enraged with Sheehan’s use of their son’s name on a protest cross, they drove from the town of Spicewood to Crawford to remove it.
“I went there and had Matthew’s name taken off of there,” said Matt Matula, whose son, a 20-year-old Marine, was killed by hostile fire last year. “It’s fine for people to grieve their own way. It aggravates me to see them using other people’s names to further their cause.”
“He’s not a victim, he’s a hero,” he told KXAN-TV, “and I think that everybody that’s serving our country [are] heroes.”
Cpl. Matthew Matula, whose wife, Julie, was pregnant when he was killed in action, had planned on bringing his wife and baby back from his base in Southern California to Texas to get a ranch and build a house.
Stephanie Williams, 11, Karina Lopez, 9, and Brittney Conrad, 10, pay tribute at a 2004 candlelight vigil in Murrieta, Calif., to Cpl. Matt Matula (photo: Mike Norkin/for the Californian)
He earned a host of decorations, including the Purple Heart, Combat Action Ribbon, Presidential Unit Citation, National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Operation Iraqi Freedom Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and Sea Service Deployment Ribbon. His younger brother youngest son just recently joined the military and is also heading to Iraq.
“Matthew was very proud of being a Marine and proud of his unit and what they were doing,” his mother, Toni, said.
Her feelings are echoed by another war mom, Debbie from Indianapolis, who called radio host Rush Limbaugh today to say her own son was wounded in Iraq when his vehicle ran over a land mine twice in one day, and he’s now serving his second tour of duty.
“I would never dishonor his actions by doing what this woman is doing,” she tearfully said, referring to Cindy Sheehan. “What she’s doing is not only dishonoring her son, she’s dishonoring mine. … [Casey Sheehan] didn’t die for nothing, he died in the United States Armed Forces.There’s nothing more honorable than that. These kids volunteered, they were not yanked from their cradle by an evil government to send them someplace they didn’t want to go … My son knew what was in store for him, and my son stepped up to the plate.”
Lee Miller, who has a long list of family members in the service, wrote the China Daily newspaper to blast Mrs. Sheehan, while at the same time heaping praise on her son, Casey.
“He is a better person then you will ever be. So go home and honor his name instead of dragging it in the dirt. Make a difference instead of trying to be in the limelight. You’re making an a– out of yourself. I know your pain. I have been down that path – it hurts, but don’t blame someone for a choice a person makes when it doesn’t work out. Build a bridge and get over it. Your son was proud of what he did, so be proud of him.”
The event is being promoted by MoveAmericaForward, and is led by Deborah Johns of Northern California Marine Moms. Her son, William, is a Marine serving in Iraq.
Deborah Johns of Roseville, Calif., stars in commercial supporting her son and others fighting for freedom in Iraq
“I am deeply sorry for Ms. Sheehan’s loss; however, Ms. Sheehan’s actions are only causing pain to those of us who have loved ones serving in the war against terrorism,” Johns said. “We understand the need to fight the terrorists overseas rather than face attack here at home. We understand that it was the terrorists led by al-Qaida in Iraq who are responsible for the deaths of U.S. service members, including Casey Sheehan.”
“William is helping to bring about freedom, and people are realizing that freedom is a gift,” she says in the spot. “He supports what we’re doing over there.”
The backlash is not going unnoticed by Cindy Sheehan.
“The right wingers are e-mailing me and spewing filth about me on the radio and on the television saying that I am dishonoring my son’s memory,” she writes. “The right wingers are really having a field day with me. It hurts me really badly, but I am willing to put up with the cr–, if it ends the war a minute sooner than it would have.”
She’s also disputes allegations her anti-war protest is all about her.
“I was just the spark the universe chose for some reason to spark this off, because, like I said, the movement was already there.”
President Bush kissing Cindy Sheehan in family photo dated June 18, 2004