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Thanks, Peter
I want to thank Peter Eichenberger for teaching me a few things about myself. After reading "Booze, drugs, guns and football" (Aug. 10), I now know that since I like football, and actually have the audacity to attend some games every now and again, I must be some drunken, drug-crazed, gun-loving lunatic.

And of course, the fact that one person acted despicably in the parking lot outside of a stadium means that the institution of college football as a whole needs to go down. Never mind the fact that 56,000 other fans managed not to kill anyone. Never mind the fact that parents take their children to these games. Never mind the fact that, contrary to popular opinion, athletes graduate at a higher percentage rate than do college populations as a whole. Nope. One unstable person kills two people outside of a football stadium, and clearly the game of football itself is to blame (just imagine what the people who actually made it inside the stadium must be like). Had I not read Eichenberger's column, I would never have been so enlightened.
Dawne Howard
Chapel Hill

Cindy's supporters
Thank you for the article "Cindy Sheehan may take protest to D.C." (Aug. 17) There are many citizens who are against this war and this administration. I support her efforts and many others do also. She has courage and is a true "patriot."
Sandra Yubwannie
Durham

Terrible beauty
I just returned from Crawford, Texas, where I spent the last five days encamped on the side of a road on a small piece of ground close to the Bush ranch.

My reasons for traveling to Crawford to join Cindy Sheehan in her vigil are pretty straightforward. I have always opposed the war in Iraq and believe that the Bush administration lied to the American people to justify invading and waging war in a country that was proven not to have WMD or any connection to 9/11.

Camp Casey, where the vigil is being held, is named in honor of Casey Sheehan, who was killed on April 4, 2004. Casey was 24 years old and had been in Iraq less than 2 weeks when a bullet tore through his Kevlar helmet and into his skull.

I went to Crawford to join Cindy in the hopes that I could give something to this cause. Instead, I was the one to whom so much more was given. Cindy and the other grieving families members who were there allowed me, for that moment, to share in their grief, to witness their courage and to feel their generosity of spirit. The Bush administration has denied the American people an opportunity to publicly mourn their wounded and war dead by refusing to acknowledge them. How well I remember the image of President Reagan greeting, with full military honors, the returning coffins of marines killed in Beruit.

Camp Casey evolved on the side of a road, off a hot, wind-swept, lonely stretch of prairie outside Crawford, Texas. And it has a terrible beauty.

Hundreds of small white crosses line the side of the road each bearing the name of a dead service member, many of whose families do not support Cindy Sheehan or what is happening there. Last week, George and Laura Bush drove past that long line of white crosses on their way to a neighboring ranch for a picnic with some of the Republican Party's largest donors. They also passed a mother standing in the dirt under the hot Texas sun, where she had been waiting for a very long time, holding high a white cross in honor of her fallen son, Casey Sheehan.

Today, Aug. 16, I learned that 600 of the 800 crosses that had been placed in remembrance were knocked down by a man who tied a pipe to his pick-up truck and dragged it over the markers.
Ann Bernstein
U.S. Army vet
Durham

Grief and courage
Cindy Sheehan is a Gold Star mother, a grieving woman who lost her son in Iraq. Sheehan has been holding a vigil outside the Crawford ranch ever since George W. Bush arrived for yet another one of his very long vacations. Sheehan has one simple demand: that George W. Bush walk down from the ranch, look her in the eye, and tell her what her son really died for. For this crime, the Bush administration planned to quietly lock her up as a "threat to national security."

Cindy Sheehan has not been locked up, and it's now looking increasingly unlikely that she will be. That is because more than 100 other people, some of them Gold Star mothers like Sheehan, have taken up positions on the road leading to the ranch to show their solidarity. The fact that the event is swarming with media has also probably played a big role in the about-face.

The closest the Bush administration came to even acknowledging that Sheehan and the others were there was the act of sending a couple of White House bureaucrats down the road to see what it was she wanted. While his functionaries met with Sheehan, George W. Bush no doubt anxiously peeked out through the lace curtains up at the ranch, wondering why the mean lady wouldn't just go away and leave him in peace.

But Cindy Sheehan isn't going away.

Bush and his people are, quite justifiably, terrified of this one woman. Her open heart and grief-stricken authenticity show Bush at his worst as a moral coward and a strutting braggart, with his cries of "Bring 'em on" and his schoolyard-bully antics. Our hyper-macho "war president" lacks the simple moral courage to walk down that road, look that grieving mother in the eye, and take his medicine like a man. What a sad, laughable figure this country elected to the highest office in the land.
Stephen Gallagher
Youngsville

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