I didn't vote for the president in the 2000 election. I didn't trust his politics. When he was elected in 2004, he was my choice only as a protest vote. . . . Yet after 9/11 (I am a former New Yorker), I thought he demonstrated that he was a leader. When he decided to fight terrorism abroad, I was encouraged. My son then decided to enlist in the Army. As a former Marine, I couldn't oppose him, yet I wanted him to wait until the heat of the conflict passed. He refused; he was resolute; he wanted to go.
My understanding is that Mrs. Sheehan's son volunteered three times, including the mission that finally took his life. My son didn't volunteer for the mission that took his life. Her son was killed in the line of duty and should receive all honors that go with that sacrifice. My son was killed (28 Jan 05) protecting the Iraqi people during the preparation leading up to the elections in Iraq. My son died four days shy of his 21st birthday, and he was killed by friendly fire.
Now let me ask you, who has more of a right to go barnstorming around the country vilifying the president than I? Friendly fire, Larry. How dare she insult and degrade the memory of her son, my son and all the men and women killed there by her shameless politicking! I understand better than most the depth, breadth, width and length of her grief at the loss of a child. I am reminded every day of his loss; I miss him more than words could ever express. I, however, would never dishonor him or others by a selfish, self-serving display of radical politics wrapped in false pain.
I carry a unit pin from the 25th infantry division with me constantly, as a reminder of my son's service. I wear his dog tags along with mine as reminder of his sacrifice. Every time I see Mrs. Sheehan I cry out of anger, rage, disappointment and frustration at the dishonor she has levied on those who have fallen.
My son Stephen (pronounced Steven) Castellano, and dare I say all others who have died providing for the freedom of Iraq people, deserves better. . . .
By the way, I supported the president in his decision -- and still do.
Sincerely, Paul A. Castellano
Mr. Castellano, thank you for your family's sacrifice -- a sacrifice that ensures our freedom, including that of Cindy Sheehan.