An Argument Against Cindy Sheehan

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Commentator Diane Layfield remembers her son Travis, a Marine killed in Iraq, and explains why she finds Cindy Sheehan's protest dishonorable. Layfield is a volunteer for Operation: Mom, a support group for members of the military and their families.

ED GORDON, host:

I'm Ed Gordon, and this is NEWS & NOTES.

An encampment of anti-war activists continues to grow outside President Bush's vacation ranch in Crawford, Texas. The woman leading the protest, Cindy Sheehan, says she plans to stay put at least three more weeks unless the president schedules a face-to-face visit with her. Sheehan's 24-year-old son was killed last year in Iraq. Yesterday we presented a commentary in support of Cindy Sheehan's protest. Today, military mother Diane Layfield offers an opposing view.

DIANE LAYFIELD:

I'm speaking out today in honor of my son, Lance Corporal Travis Layfield. He was 19 years old when he was killed in Iraq on April 6th, 2004. Travis died in a hostile ambush with 11 other Marines and a Navy medic. He enlisted in the Marine Corps 10 days after he graduated from high school, and he'd been a Marine only nine months when he was killed. My son, as did all the others, died with dignity, courage and love of their country.

I could never protest against what he stood for, believed in, dreamt of and died for. To me, that would dishonor his and all of their heroic sacrifices. I certainly don't want Travis or any of the other soldiers to have died in vain. None of these soldiers were drafted. All of them chose to enlist. They knew and believed in what they were doing.

Many Marines write letters to their loved ones in case they don't come home alive. In the letter I received nine months after Travis' death, he wrote: `I have so many good memories, so many laughs, and that's what you all need to remember, too. I had a good life.' It sounded to me as if Travis knew he might die, but he was not afraid to give his life.

These days I stay very involved in supporting our troops through non-profit organizations like Operation: MOM that collect donations and send packages containing a little touch of home. I know Travis would be proud of me for helping to keep up the morale of his brothers and sisters.

What kind of message does our fighting among ourselves in this country relay to the soldiers? What does it do to their pride? I know Travis would never forgive me if I supported those who would let the names and lives of our fallen be used this way.

GORDON: Diane Layfield is a volunteer for Operation: MOM, a support group for military families. She lives in Sunnyvale, California. To hear our previous commentary about the protest, log on to our Web site at npr.org.

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