Rarely does a book come along that touches the very essence of American culture. Even more rare is the book that does so while in the midst of that specific cultural phenomenon, as most are historical accounts of times past. “American Mourning” written by Catherine Moy and Melanie Morgan is such a book.
A personal story of two young men who worked, fought and died together in Iraq, “American Mourning” represents a nation torn by war. In this book, we find more than the personal tragedy of two families. We find a deep love of family and country. We find the very best in human beings and the very worst. And we find the conflicts created within the human condition when faced with loss, grief, love, heroism and fanaticism.
There is no question our nation is polarized by the war in Iraq and the war on terror. To this day, some don’t seem to understand the danger we face. Casey Sheehan and Justin Johnson, the two young soldiers portrayed in “American Mourning,” understood the threat to our nation, our freedom and our way of life. Their understanding ran so deep, and their commitment so strong, that both made the ultimate sacrifice.
The emotions and course of action of the Sheehan and Johnson families after the death of each of their sons exemplifies, on an intensely personal level, the struggle of our nation. Within the pages of “American Mourning,” the reader sees one’s self, a brother, a sister, a mother, a father and a neighbor. There is a personal connection one can’t ignore, making the book impossible to put down.
We all would like to assume that, under the same circumstances of extreme grief, we still would operate with honor and dignity. Fortunately, that is true of some. Unfortunately, it’s not true of others. This book challenges the reader to turn the magnifying glass on one’s self while viewing the world through the eyes of these two young men.
In “American Mourning,” we follow the extremely different paths these two families take in dealing with such grief.
Casey’s mother, Cindy Sheehan, became an overnight media phenomenon, the most famous anti-war, anti-American activist since Jane Fonda. She figuratively spat on her son’s sacrifice and everything he stood for as she blamed President Bush for his death, and called the Islamo-Fascists who murdered her son “freedom fighters.”
Justin’s father, Joe Johnson, embraced his son’s heroism and vowed to honor his son and his son’s sacrifice by joining the war on terror himself and by avenging his child’s death in Iraq.
The Sheehan family shattered as Cindy profited from her son’s death by accepting money to speak against the war on terror. The Johnson family drew closer together, have refused any money, but speak freely about the war.
For over two years, Moy and Morgan researched and investigated the stories of Casey Sheehan and Justin Johnson and the impact their respective deaths had on their families. This book follows Joe Johnson from Georgia to Iraq. And, with shocking twists, it exposes the real Cindy Sheehan as she parlays her son’s demise into fame from California to Crawford, Texas, and on to Washington, D.C. “American Mourning” hits directly at the heart of America. It’s an important chronicle of America’s pain as we fight an enemy that threatens our very existence.
“American Mourning” can be ordered now on Amazon.com.
Kathleen Antrim is a columnist for Examiner newspapers in San Francisco and Washington, D.C., is the author of “Capital Offense,” and writes for NewsMax Magazine. She can be heard regularly on Hot Talk 560 KSFO in San Francisco on “The Lee Rodgers and Melanie Morgan Show.” For more information go to: www.KathleenAntrim.com.