Korean War veteran John Mockenstrum of Maumee and Cindy Sheehan embrace at International Park. She became an icon of the U.S. peace movement after her son was killed in Iraq in 2004.
A white van carrying two bicycles drove by hundreds of miniature American flags Sunday afternoon to visit the Vietnam War Memorial replica in International Park.
The van had just visited a Northwest Ohio Peace Coalition “Free Bradley Manning” demonstration and would later visit the Art Fair at One SeaGate, the Bike Co-op on Washington Street, and a potluck at the Occupied Garden.
The van’s driver and two bicycle riders were on a “tour de peace” to raise awareness for those individuals devastated by the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Cindy Sheehan, bicycle rider and U.S. anti-war activist, said new and old activist friends, including longtime Toledo peace activist Mike Ferner, have helped her make the tour possible by organizing these visits.
“It’s been an amazing thing to connect with people who you wouldn’t think you’d have anything in common with. I’ve learned on this tour that we have something in common with everyone,” Ms. Sheehan said. “Instead of focusing on what divides us, we should focus on what connects us. And people are making those connections. And we’re bringing people together to form these communities.”
Ms. Sheehan, 55, and her two travel companions, Malcolm Chaddock and Dan Levy, started their journey from her son’s grave in Santa Monica, Calif., on April 4, the ninth anniversary of his death. Army Spc. Casey Sheehan, 24, was killed by enemy fire in 2004 in Iraq and his mother became a national and international figure a year later, when she set up a makeshift camp to protest the war outside former President George W. Bush’s Crawford, Texas, vacation ranch.
Although denied a face-to-face meeting with Mr. Bush, Ms. Sheehan has not given up her anti-war activism, and she said the purpose of her tour is to bring people together and encourage them to consider principles not political parties.
Ms. Sheehan, who has a peace symbol tattooed inside her left wrist, described herself as someone who is “uncompromisingly for peace and against war no matter who is president.”
Jeff Zenz, right, of Providence Township speaks at a rally to support Pfc. Bradley Manning. At rear, from left, are Trudy Bond and Steve Miller of Toledo.
Ms. Sheehan’s Toledo visit Sunday marked the 66th day of her bicycle journey. With plans to reach Washington by July 3, she said her tour will culminate with a rally to present a list of demands to the White House.
Those demands — expected to include an end to “war and U.S. immunity for war crimes” and “the suppression of civil rights” — also will call attention to Pfc. Bradley Manning’s prosecution in Iraq, partisan politics, and the anti-war movement.
“When Bush was president, did we have an anti-war movement or an anti-Bush movement?” she asked.
Andy Christensen, 59, traveled from Port Clinton to meet Ms. Sheehan on Sunday and join the tour as far as Bowling Green.
“I’ve been following Cindy’s movement for about a year and a half now. I just sensed that she is a person with great passion and focus and strong convictions, and I thought what she was saying makes sense.”
Waterville resident David Greene, 59, who visited Ms. Sheehan during the Vietnam Memorial tour stop, said he has been inspired by her journey.
Before she visited the replica of the Vietnam Memorial, Ms. Sheehan met with the Northwest Ohio Peace Coalition at a demonstration to support Private Manning, the U.S. Army soldier accused of leaking national defense secrets to the activist group Wikileaks in 2010.
Ms. Sheehan said that after her bicycle tour ends in 23 days, she plans to return to California. She has been endorsed by the Peace and Freedom Party for governor of California, and expects to start preparing for her 2014 gubernatorial campaign.
Contact Danielle Trubow at: email@example.com or 419-724-6129.