Fact Check

Cindy Sheehan's Son's Grave

Casey Sheehan's grave is as yet unmarked with a standard headstone.

Published April 29, 2006


Claim:   Casey Sheehan's grave is unmarked with a standard headstone.

Status:   Multiple:

  • Casey Sheehan's grave lacked a headstone for the first two years after his death:   True.
  • Casey Sheehan's grave is not now marked with a headstone:   False.

Example:   [Collected via e-mail, 2006]

This will never make the NY Times!!!!!

Thought this might just interest some of y'all.. I think it's noteworthy!

Obviously, it's a picture in a cemetery. What cemetery and whose grave? Yes, it's sadly the grave of Casey Sheehan. After two years, and a DOD payment of $250,000 life insurance to the "Peace Mom", she has not had the time or bothered to have a headstone placed on this young hero's grave. And, she doesn't even have to pay for one, the DOD will provide one:

"The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) furnishes upon request, at no charge to the applicant, a government headstone or marker for the grave of any deceased eligible veteran in any cemetery around the world. For all deaths occurring before September 11, 2001, the VA may provide a headstone or marker only for graves that are not marked with a private headstone.

Flat markers in granite, marble, and bronze and upright headstones in granite and marble are available. The style chosen must be consistent with existing monuments at the place of burial. Niche markers are also available to mark columbaria used for internment of cremated remains."

She can find time to protest on at least 3 continents, get arrested various times, go on vacation in Hawaii, have photo ops with the Marxists in Venezuela but can't seem to find the time to properly mark her son's grave.

oh yea — Cindy Sheehan recently treated herself to a brand new Volkswagen Beetle convertible. She still can't be bothered to buy a grave marker for her son though.

Origins:   Casey Austin Sheehan was a 24-year-old U.S. Army Specialist from California who served as a mechanic with the First Cavalry Division out of Fort Hood, Texas, and was killed in an ambush near Sadr City, Iraq, on

4 April 2004. His mother, Cindy Sheehan, is an anti-war activist and outspoken critic of the Bush administration, engaging in protests such as holding a 26-day vigil outside President George W. Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas, while the President was vacationing there in August 2005.

For two years after Casey Sheehan's death, his burial site in a Vacaville, California, cemetery remained unadorned with a formal headstone (although it was marked by a simple placard). In April 2006, Cindy Sheehan attempted to articulate the reasons for the lack of a headstone at her son's grave, citing her grief and unwillingness to acknowledge her son's death with a tangible symbol:

For the first year after Casey was killed, I didn't want to believe it. I didn't want to place a TOMBstone on my son's grave. I didn't want one more marble proof that my son was dead. I couldn't even call where he was buried a "cemetery," I had to call it "Casey's Park." I placed fresh flowers in the cup every week and journaled there almost on a daily basis, and often laid on it and fell asleep and dreamed of my needlessly killed son.

In the same explanation, she also suggested that part of the reason for the lack of a headstone might be a dispute over monies paid to the mortuary that handled Casey's funeral services:

We had a Casualty Officer who abandoned us when our mortuary refused to pay the cemetery and told us that the "government sent the money to the mortuary, so now it is your problem. You may have to sue the mortuary."

The owner of the mortuary, Steve Nadeau, disputed this statement:

Steve Nadeau, the mortuary's owner, said that not only did he properly pay the cemetery, but that he subsidized the process with his own money.

Nadeau expressed hurt and disbelief at Sheehan's comments. He said that the amount of money the military gave the mortuary for Casey's funeral service and cemetery arrangements didn't even come close to covering the costs.

"Several kind citizens made donations," said Nadeau. "I absorbed the rest."

This was not the only way in which he went above and beyond his responsibilities following Casey's death, said Nadeau. He also provided a stretch limousine and a driver at his expense, he said, and invited the family to go to the airport with him so that he could accompany them. None of this was required, said Nadeau.

"Having known the Sheehan family for many years through St. Mary's Catholic Church where Ms. Sheehan had previously been the youth director, it was my desire to provide care and dignity to Casey and the family. I did this in every respect."

Nadeau also refuted Sheehan's statement that the mortuary finally paid the cemetery only after the family threatened to bring the story to the media.

"This never happened," said Nadeau. "I would stop by the family home as I do most families' homes and check with them on necessary needs, etc."

Nadeau said the military provided his mortuary $5,736 in funding to pay for the funeral service and cemetery arrangements. The funding came in May 2004, said Nadeau, and he paid the cemetery as soon as the costs had been totaled

On 25 May 2006, a headstone was finally placed at Casey's grave, one described thusly by the Vacaville Reporter:

The elegant marble slab is thick and emblazoned with a cross and delicate thickets of trees on both sides.

"Our Casey," reads an inscription on the front. "Ever faithful, kind, and gentle, good son, beloved brother, brave soldier, dear friend, you loved your family and lived your life serving others to the end." Six icons grace the other side, representing a military insignia, the theater, Eagle Scouts, Van Halen, the World Wrestling Federation and Superman.

That same publication also contacted Cindy Sheehan via e-mail for her comments on the placement of the headstone:

Sheehan said she had paid for the tombstone herself and was part of a family effort to put it up, even though its installation saddened her.

"It is important for the rest of Casey's family to have one," she wrote. "I guess the pain of seeing it etched in marble that he is dead is another pain I will have to deal with."

The headstone was very expensive, Sheehan wrote. She said that the government should have paid for it because of its responsibility for his death.

Last updated:   28 May 2006

  Sources Sources:

    Kay, Julie.   "Grave Concern: 'Peace Mom' Defends Tombstone Choice."

    The [Vacaville] Reporter.   16 April 2006.

    Kay, Julie.   "Sheehan Refuted: Director Rebuts 'Peace Mom's' Story."

    The [Vacaville] Reporter.   18 April 2006.

    Kay, Julie.   "Casey Sheehan's Grave Receives Its Headstone."

    The [Vacaville] Reporter.   27 May 2006.

    Sheehan, Cindy.   "A Markerless Grave in Vacaville."

    truthout.org.   11 April 2006.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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