Slain Marine's father leads Atlanta rally
Texan critical of Sheehan's anti-war protests
By CARLOS CAMPOS
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 09/09/05
A Texas father whose son was killed in Iraq spoke at a small rally at Georgia's state Capitol on Thursday, criticizing the anti-war protests of Cindy Sheehan.
Gary W. Qualls of Temple, Texas, told supporters that Sheehan — a soldier's mother who staged a monthlong protest near President Bush's Crawford, Texas, ranch in August — does not speak for most of the families who have relatives fighting in Iraq.
Qualls, whose son, Marine Lance Cpl. Louis Qualls, was killed in Fallujah in 2004, said Sheehan's actions are "wrong, unethical, unjust" and "evil." Qualls said Sheehan is destroying troop morale by advocating a troop withdrawal that would harm the Iraqi people and hurt America's war on terror.
The gathering, which was promoted by the Georgia Republican Party, took place on the eve of a Sheehan visit to Atlanta. Qualls was joined by about 20 people holding signs in support of the troops and Bush. Their messages ranged from "God bless the soldiers that sacrifice for our country" to " 'W' is a Hottie."
Qualls held a white cross bearing his son's name that he removed from Sheehan's "Camp Casey," the headquarters of her protest. "She doesn't speak for us," Qualls said. The camp is named for Sheehan's son, Army Spec. Casey Sheehan, who was killed in Iraq in 2004. Qualls supporters opened up "Fort Qualls" in Crawford in response to Sheehan's efforts.
Sheehan's "Bring Them Home Now Tour" is scheduled in Atlanta today through Monday. She is expected to speak at a church in Stone Mountain on Saturday night.
Sheehan was traveling Thursday and could not be reached for comment. Andrea Buffa, a spokeswoman for Sheehan, said the deaths of U.S. troops in Iraq are more demoralizing than anti-war protests in the United States.
"Families respond to death differently and families have different opinions about the war," Buffa said of Qualls' remarks. "And she's just speaking for a growing number of military families that believe it's actually supportive of the troops to bring them out of a situation where there's no end to the devastation in sight."