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Another Gold Star Mother for Peace

Reported by Judy - August 23, 2005

More than anyone else in America, Peg Mullen probably knows exactly how Cindy Sheehan is feeling right now. Like Sheehan, Mullen lost a son to war, and instead of keeping her grief at home, she became a symbol of opposition to that war.

As strange as it seems, however, Peg Mullen was luckier than Cindy Sheehan. Peg Mullen lost her son Michael in Vietnam back in 1970, before rich white men had fed millions of dollars into a far-right noise machine fueled by falsehoods and phony outrage.

Peg Mullen could take out an ad in the Des Moines Register in 1970 condemning the war in Vietnam without being attacked by scum-in-patriot's clothing like Bill O'Reilly, Michelle Malkin, Sean Hannity, or Rush Limbaugh. Peg Mullen had to endure being avoided by her friends in La Porte City, Iowa, who did not want to hear her talk about the war again or did not approve of her letter-writing and newspaper interviews, but she was never swift-boated from coast-to-coast by people who never met her.

Cindy Sheehan is not so lucky. Every red-neck who knows how to dial the phone number of a talk radio show can accuse her of violating her dead son's memory and disgracing her family. Every freeper who knows how to post a comment to a blog can assess the state of her psyche and her marriage.

Peg Mullen was lucky. When C.D.B. Bryan wrote about her family's ordeal in the best-seller Friendly Fire, he sounded sympathetic. ABC-TV could make a movie about her ordeal and actually show it, instead of caving into pressure from Republicans who disliked its message.

Cindy Sheehan is not so lucky. She is being covered by a mainstream media that cowers before the powerful, that grills grieving mothers and gives a pass to our cowboy president, that takes her words out of context and then forces her to defend what she never said.

Peg Mullen was lucky. She was from Iowa. She lived on land that her husband's family had farmed for four generations, since before Iowa was even a state. She had anti-Vietnam War Democrats like Iowa Senator Harold Hughes standing beside her.

Cindy Sheehan is not so lucky. She is from California, not Middle America. She has the support of easy targets for the right-wing such as Michael Moore and Code Pink, instead of salt-of-the-earth Harold Hughes.

Peg Mullen was lucky. When she and her husband, Gene, finally located Lt. Col. Norm Schwarzkopf and asked to speak to him about how their son died, he said, "Fine. Come on out. Let's sit down and talk about this thing. You look at me, and I'll look at you and we'll talk this thing through."

Cindy Sheehan is not so lucky. She wants to meet with a chicken-in-chief who has never actually commanded, who has never been under hostile fire, seen his own soldiers bleed, or heard their cries of anguish. Unlike Schwarzkopf, he has never tiptoed across a mine-field to kneel by the side of a wounded private.

Cindy Sheehan is lucky in one small way. She has Peg Mullen on her side.

"I would give my right arm to be there," with Sheehan, Mullen told the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier on August 18, 2005. "I mean, somebody's got to stop this thing. I was wondering how I could get in touch with her, I really was. I bet she probably needs some money.

"I read all about what she was doing on the computer this morning, and there were two people came on (line) and said, 'Why isn't Peg Mullen (there)?' Oh, I think it would be the most fun, to upset Bush like that."

Now 88, Mullen is unable to make the trip because of her health.

And in that, it's George Bush who is lucky.

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