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by Lindsey Rowland

Zappala, from Philadelphia, Pa was part of the “Bring Them Home Now Tour” started by anti-war icon Cindy Sheehan. Zappala’s son Army Sgt. Sherwood R. Baker, 30, died in Iraq in April 2004.
Sheehan also lost a son in Iraq, Army SPC Casey Sheehan. She started her anti-war protest at “Camp Casey” outside President G.W. Bush’s Texas ranch and then went on the road with the, “Bring Them Home Now Tour.”

The tour consisted of three buses that visited 51 cities in 28 states, ending three weeks later, Sept. 24-26, in Washington D.C.

There Sheehan joined with a broader anti-war effort organized on Capitol Hill by United for Peace and Justice. They were joined by other organizations: Iraq Veterans Against the War, Gold Star Families for Peace, Military Families Speak Out, and Veterans for Peace.

Zappala helped Sheehan organize the tour. “I know Cindy Sheehan very well,” Zappala said. “She is a bold, courageous, intelligent person, with a great sense of humor. The tour came to Philly where I live, and I went with them to Baltimore, then onto D.C.”

“ The anti-war protest drew some 200,000 people to Washington,” Zappala said.
“ We went through the lawn of Congress, where we had a press conference interview with ABC in front of the White House, and then left a message for President Bush at the Washington National Monument,” she added. “We then circled the White House, which took about five hours for the whole parade route.”

Zappala is like 1,935 other American families whose stories have been brought to light, in recent days as the debate about the war in Iraq continues, and the U.S. death toll nears 2,000. Zappala’s son joined the Army National Guard in 1997. “He didn’t want to go to Iraq,” she said. “He joined the Army when the world was a lot saner.” He is survived by a wife and child.

Some Americans feel Zappala’s actions are unpatriotic. That her grief has taken her down the wrong path, and she has become disrespectful to our troops and other parent’s who have lost children. Deborah Johns, from Roseville, California, co-founder of Marine Moms, has a son in Iraq. “If God took my son and called him home, I would continue to stand behind our military men and women and I would continue to support our president of the United States” she said. Pro-war groups have sprung up in defiance of Sheehan, the “Move-Forward-America Organization”, which is Sacramento based, participated in a tour called “You Don’t Speak for Me Cindy.” And on September 25, a “We Support Our Troops and Their Mission Weekend” in Washington.

Zappala believes otherwise, “As far as being called unpatriotic for protesting, it’s an easy shot for other people to take. I consider myself pro-peace. I support the troops, but they need to come home now.

“ Nothing I say will bring my son back. I try to keep my anger productive. At least twice a day I stop in my tracks and think about my son, and I have to make myself keep walking, but it breaks me for those moments, and I have to pull myself back together. I realize he is never coming home,” Zappala said.

For now Zappala is back home, but the group is planning another anti-war protest on the day the U.S. death toll reaches 2,000.

Celeste Zappala speakes during the "Bring Them Home Now Tour" in Washington D.C. Sept. 24-26.
Web photo

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