Did you know that “Scheisse” is German for “shit”?
Cindy Sheehan and her supporters have scheduled a protest walk in Germany from Landstuhl Regional Medical Center to the west gate of Ramstein Air Base, as well as a visit to American wounded in March. Where are the Generals now?
No hospitalized person, regardless of how they came to be hospitalized, deserves the kind of attention, directly or indirectly, that Ms. Sheehan and her camp intend to bring. Landstuhl Regional Medical Center is a hospital. It’s not a playground or a podium. The patients of Landstuhl are people, not pawns. Political affiliations, opinions, and beliefs are not part of a patient’s health, recovery, and treatment plan. Something as seemingly insignificant as finding a way to get a service member a smoke break is considerably more important than who is or isn’t against the war.
While I’m all about Ms. Sheehan’s constitutional rights, the reality is that those rights end where non-military American soil ends and another country’s soil and/or an American military installation begins. American military servicemembers’ constitutional right to free speech is limited and often non-existent on an American military installation. Ms. Sheehan cannot expect her rights to exceed those of an American service member or supersede the rules of an American installation. She can expect that her regard for the dead and wounded as the hottest commodity of her campaign to be dismissed completely and used as the very reason to deny her entry. Even if she gets on base and into the hospital, her fun will likely end there. Ms. Sheehan and her camp have scheduled a visit with the wards as if the hospital was a zoo and the wounded just animals in cages to be waved at and fed. Unfortunately, Ms. Sheehan is not alone in this regard. Several visitors to Landstuhl have referred to the wounded as little more than a line on their travel itinerary rather than as the people they are who can refuse, and have refused, specific visitors.
Protesting the very circumstances under which American servicemembers were wounded cannot reasonably be expected to be interpreted by the wounded, or the vast American military community that exists here, as a showing of “solidarity to the soldiers wounded in the Iraq” as touted by Ms. Sheehan’s event flier.
It can only be hoped that no one has told Sheehan and her camp just how far apart the hospital and the gate to Ramstein sit. It’s a 20-minute drive on the Autobahn when there’s no traffic and the weather is good. Aye, they’re walking. If they get the okay from German authorities, it’s a 10-12 kilometer walk (about 8 miles) using back roads. Maybe Sheehan and her -ites don’t know that everything in Germany is uphill and upstairs. While that light trek would be no big deal for any service member, it could test the will of even the most ardent protester, assuming no one gets lost, the weather is good, and someone thinks to bring along more than a copy of Wicked German.