Dear Mrs. Sheehan,
You have asked me to identify the noble cause for which your son died. I have not answered you personally out of respect for the nobility of your son's sacrifice.
Being president forces me into the spotlight, but I would rather stand in the shadows of men like Casey Sheehan.
Directing national attention on my response to your protest creates a distraction from what matters. The focus of our attention, and our admiration, should rest on people like Casey Sheehan, who stand in the breach when evil threatens to break out and consume a helpless people.
The running story on the news networks should be the valiant efforts of our troops -- the merchants of mercy who export freedom and import honor. They trade their own lives for the sake of others.
As a result, we live in a nation where a woman can camp outside of the president's house and verbally attack the president for weeks on end without fear of prison, torture or death. And the number of nations where such protest is possible has multiplied thanks to the work of our military.
You ask for what noble cause your son died?
In a sense he died so that people like you, who passionately oppose government policies, can freely express that opposition. As you camp in Crawford, you should take off your shoes, for you stand on holy ground. This land was bought with the blood of men like your son.
Now, 25 million Iraqis cry out to enjoy the life you take for granted. Most of them will never use their freedom to denigrate the sacrifice of those who paid for it. But once liberty is enshrined in law, they will be free to do so. And when the Iraqis finally escape their incarceration, hope will spread throughout that enslaved region of the world, eventually making us all safer and more free.
The key is in the lock of the prison door. Bold men risk everything to turn it.
Mrs. Sheehan, everyone dies. But few experience the bittersweet glory of death with a purpose -- death that sets people free and produces ripples of liberty hundreds of years into the future.
Casey Sheehan died that freedom might triumph over bondage, hope over despair, prosperity over misery. He died restoring justice and mercy. He lived and died to help to destroy the last stubborn vestiges of the Dark Ages.
To paraphrase President Lincoln, the world will little note nor long remember what you and I say here. But it can never forget what Casey Sheehan did during his brief turn on earth. If we are wise, we will take increased devotion to that cause for which he gave the last full measure of devotion.
Our brave warriors have blazed a trail. They have entrusted the completion of the task to those of us they left behind. Let's, you and I, resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain.
Let's finish the work that they have thus far so nobly advanced.
George W. Bush