By Jodie Evans Huffington Post
August 16, 2005
The day was hot and hard, but as the sun set so did the tension of the day. More interview request than Cindy can fill, new family members arrived, and even they couldn't take up the slack.
Everyone was finally turning in for the night, when someone came through camp in their pickup and mowed down all the crosses from Arlington West. The Sheriff says about 503 crosses were damaged. Whoever it was ended up with a flat and cross remains in his truck, he is now in custody in Crawford for property damage. Otherwise the day was hot, muggy and full of more than could be responded to. Rumor has it, the county will be closing down the camp tomorrow, so we will be looking for a new home. On the move, staying light on our feet.
DAY 9 AT CAMP CASEY By Cindy Sheehan Huffington Post Monday, August 15, 2005
The ninth day ended in the most awesome way. We were out at Camp Casey and it was sprinkling a little bit and it really looked like the rain was going to start pouring down anytime. We looked over into the next cow pasture and there was a full rainbow. Rainbows are supposedley God's sign of hope. When Casey was killed on 04/04/04, I thought that all of my hope was killed, too. Being involved in the peaceful occupation of Crawford and meeting hundreds of people from all over the world has given me so much hope for the future.
We had a lovely interfaith prayer service this morning. It was truly beautiful and we were all weeping while we were singing "Amazing Grace." But, during the service, one of our neighbors fired off a shot gun. He said he was shooting at birds, but he is tired of us being there and he wants us to leave. I didn't get to talk to him, but I told the media that if he wanted us to leave so badly, why doesn't he tell his other neighbor, George, to talk to me. We are good neighbors and we are cooperating with everyone. By the way, in case I forgot to blog it last night, the Sheriff has requested that I stay down in Crawford during the night, because he is afraid for my safety after he leaves. He said he would "sleep better" himself at night if I came into town to sleep. Judging from the shooting guns, I guess he was right.
George Bush took a 2 hour bike ride on Saturday, and when he got back, he was asked how he could go for a two hour bike ride when he doesn't have time to meet with me, and he said: "I have to go on with my life." (Austin Statesman, August 14) WHAT!!!!!????? He has to get on with his life!!! I am so offended by that statement. Every person, war fan, or not, who has had a child killed in this mistake of an occupation should be highly offended by that remark. Who does he think he is? I wish I could EVER be able to get on with my life. Getting on with my life means a life without my dear, sweet boy. Getting on with my life means learning to live with a pain that is so intense that sometimes I feel like throwing up, or screaming until I pass out from sorrow. I wish a little bike ride could help me get on with my life.
I need to focus on the positive, though, and there is so much. I had so many amazing things happen today. I couldn't walk through Camp Casey or the Crawford Peace House today without hugging people and getting my picture taken. Now I know how Mickey Mouse feels at Disneyland. I had a soldier from Ft. Hood come out today and he brought me a small stone with a First Cavalry insignia painted on it and the pictures of three of his beautiful buddies who were murdered there by George's reckless policies. It was such an incredible moment for me when he said: "Keep on doing what you are doing. We are so proud of you. Casey would be so proud of you."
I just wish George had as much courage in his entire body as Casey had in his little pinky, then he would meet with me. Crawford, Tx. is beautiful prairie land, but I could think of dozens of other places I would rather be right now. However, if George or anybody else thinks I am leaving before my mission is "accomplished" they have another think coming. I will stay the course. I will finish the mission. I will take no prisoners.
By the way, we had about 7 counter protesters today and hundreds at Camp Casey...don't let the mainstream media say differently.
LIGHTS! CAMERA! ACTIVISM! PEACE DIVA MEETS MEDIA, NOT BUSH By Nathan Diebenow The Lone Star Iconoclast August 16, 2005
CRAWFORD ‹ She is in a director¹s chair getting made up before her next photoshoot. Though there might be water standing next to her, this woman is no swimsuit model. No, the sad-looking lady in the blue raincoat and fisherman¹s hat is Cindy Sheehan, 48, of Vacaville, Calif., the newest star of the peace movement.
It might seem that she found that chair all by herself, but in reality it took teamwork and infrastructure that was already in place to aid her attempt to meet President Bush face-to-face at his Prairie Chapel ranch this August. A number of groups whose members count in the thousands have helped provide transportation, communications, logistics, food, water, and financial and emotional support for her.
For starters, a small cadre of U.S. military veterans bused Sheehan to Crawford as their annual Veterans for Peace conference in Dallas concluded last Saturday. Then, as news of her defiance there grew, the founding members of CodePink, a women¹s peace and justice group known for disrupting Bush¹s inauguration and a host of other corporate interests, flew in to perform odd jobs aimed to launch Sheehan into the mainstream media spotlight, much like how the NAACP took Rosa Parks, a secretary of that organization¹s Alabama chapter, and turned her into a saint of the Civil Rights movement.
In other words, this is no fly-by night arrangement. No-sir-ree-bob! It¹s as professional as grassroot activism comes.
There¹s Jodie Evans, one of CodePink¹s founding members. She¹s on her cellphone headset talking to her PR team to line up future media interviews with Sheehan.
There¹s Col. Ann Wright, who started working with CodePink after resigning her position as a U.S. foreign service officer in protest over the invasion of Iraq. She¹s playing good cop to Diane Wilson¹s bad cop with the McLennan County Sheriff¹s Department trying to make sense of the right-of-way laws here in the countryside. Wilson, a fisherwoman from Seadrift, Texas, is also a CodePink co-founder on a hunger strike until Sheehan¹s roadside vigil ends.
There¹s Medea Benjamin, yet another CodePink co-founder, getting jiggy to the tunes of singer/songwriter Eliza Gilkyson who took the stage at Tonkawa Falls Park Saturday. Then, there¹s Lisa Fithian, a highly-experienced organizer with United Peace & Justice, occasionally moving in and out from the background to work the cops like a coach would work the refs.
Then, there¹s the Crawford Peace House, which is serving as a drop-off point for supplies sent with tsunami-like accuracy from Cindy¹s sympathizers around the country since her arrival at Camp Casey, her campsite five miles from Crawford named after her son, Casey, an Army specialist killed in an ambush in Iraq in 2004. Activist Johnny Wolf of Dallas co-founded the Peace House in 2002 as a base for staging press conferences, rallies, and vigils against the politicies of the Bush administration whenever it knows that the commander-in-chief is in town.
Due to Sheehan¹s recent actions, the Peace House has received gifts, such as a wireless Internet system, computers, and six vehicles donated by Air America radio talk show host Randi Rhodes to shuttle people to and from Camp Casey. The social justice organization also has boomed with financial aid, going from $3 in the bank to ³all debts paid² in less than a week¹s time. Pretty much its only problems now are finding parking for guests in Crawford, preparing meals, and maintaining proper plumbing.
As a whole, these groups, as well as Iraq Veterans Against the War, Gold Star Families for Peace, and Military Families Speak Out, make sure that no one steals Sheehan¹s thunderous story: a disgruntled mother of a U.S. soldier slain in Iraq travels to Crawford wanting to speak with President Bush face-to-face. Her only wish is to ask him for what ³noble cause² her son died in Iraq and why his daughters, if this war was so just and needed, haven¹t enlisted in the U.S. military yet? Their point is to bring the U.S. troops home now, return complete power to the Iraqi people over their nation, and see that no more blood is spilled for the U.S. oil industry to swipe black gold underneath the Iraqis¹ feet.
The international media has been eating up this drama: the anti-war soccer mom versus the most powerful man in the world. The right wing, needless to say, is fuming over the peace movement¹s weeklong hijacking of the U.S. media ‹ the same media in fact that prefers questioning scientists over space shuttle foam to questioning President Bush on the invasion of Iraq in
2003 a la the Downing Street memos which were released here a month after the British press did so.
But let¹s not confuse things, alright?
Dueling Military Moms
Right away, the Right intitiated a smear campaign designed to discredit Sheehan and her supporters in the media. First, the Drudge Report claimed that since an article in her hometown paper, The Reporter, was published, Sheehan changed her opinions about President Bush whom she met yet did not criticize over the Iraq war at the time. The Reporter came out later, though, and defended its story and Sheehan, saying that, "Drudge ... didn't explain that [a quote in the story] referred to sharing time with her family, not the president."
Then, the pro-Bush side of Sheehan¹s family stated that they wanted her to stop her vigil, to which Sheehan replied that they certainly were entitled to their opinion, but they ³barely knew² her son. Her husband, Patrick Sheehan, it should be noted, has reportedly been separated from Cindy since the death of their son. He has not commented on her actions.
Other smears included that Sheehan has taken $20,000 for her stance against the war; she is an anti-semite for saying, ³My son joined the Army to protect America, not Israel;² she is a traitor, as FoxNews pundit Bill O¹Reilly said on his show; the groups supporting her are anti-America, communist sympathizers who have brainwashing her ‹ oh, just to name a few.
At least two conservative groups attempted to steal back the political football from Sheehan in Crawford and run for higher moral ground. They had their day in the media sunshine, and stood behind Bush¹s pledge to ³stay the course² in Iraq because they believe their family members in the military are doing good there. Perhaps the most direct confrontation between the two rival factions was when Mike Gallagher, an 8th-rate conservative radio talk show pundit, and his group from the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex placed American flags in front of a religious memorial for the fallen U.S. soldiers installed by Cindy¹s suppporters.
Otherwise, it was a case of dueling veterans and military moms screaming for the media¹s attention, though both groups agree that the U.S. soldiers in Iraq fight for the guy next to them and that the soldiers¹ welfare is their top priority.
³Not one more dead. Not one more dying. No more lies. No more deception. End the occuption. Bring the troops home now, and most importantly, take care of them when they get home,² said Sue Niederer of Pennington, N.J., a co-founder of Gold Star Mothers for Peace whose son 1st Lt. Seth Dvorin was killed in action in Iraq in 2004. ³For all of those people who say that we are the ones who don¹t know what we are talking about, I have two questions for them: When is Mr. Bush going to volunteer his children? And when is the opposition going to volunteer their own children for this war?²
³We¹re not here to bash anybody. I¹m a mom, and I can try to associate with [Cindy Sheehan¹s] pain. I hope I will never feel that pain, but I think it¹s gone a little too far,² said Gale Muskiet, a Marine mother from Houston whose son, Cpl. Matthew Muskiet, might reenlist in Iraq after his tour ends. ³We did not send our children. They volunteered,² Muskiet added. ³None of us would send our children willingly, but you know what? When they get to legal age, they can make their own mind. We raised them to be responsible, God-fearing American adults. They made the choice.²
Linda Waste of Hinesville, Ga., and her husband, Phil, two of the 2,500 members of Military Families Speak Out, questioned the basis for the opinions of Rightist pundits and worried for the troops¹ mental health at the pro-peace rally at Tonkawa Falls Park.
³Who is sacrificing? It is we the people who are sacrificing. Not the House. Not the Senate. Not the Bush administration. It is we the people, and enough is enough,² said Waste, whose three sons and two grandchildren are on active military duty in Iraq. ³So the question should be asked, ŒWhat are our troops going through? What stresses and anxiety are they going through?¹ Their lives are changed forever. Their family¹s lives are changed forever.²
At a rally organized by Free Republic, a conservative news webforum, Linda Price, a pro-Bush mother of three Marines stationed in Iraq, also spoke of the health of the troops: ³You hear the horror stories about a wife going in there to wake him up, and he almost chokes her because he¹s right in the middle of battle.²
Living In History
Still, Sheehan¹s supporters ‹ the average Lefties ‹ have sacrificed much while propelling their peace diva into the international spotlight. Several of them have spent their own money and time to get to Camp Casey, taking off work and temporarily leaving their friends and families at home.
Tiffany Strause, a TI consultant from San Diego, Calif., for instance, flew to Central Texas with her friend, Julie, not only to support Sheehan but also to take more action than just ³adopting² to a self-described conservative, Republican Marine and sending him equipment that the U.S. government should have provided before the Iraq war.
³When I read Cindy¹s story, it was head-to-toe shivers. I was so moved. It really put a face on it,² said Strause, whose future in-laws are Bush supporters. ³I think this war was a choice. It wasn¹t a necessity, and for that reason, my impatience got to the point where I had to take a stand.²
Strause, like other peace activists, thinks that Sheehan¹s vigil is not only about getting President Bush address her this time as a person, not under a generic moniker like ³Mom,² but it¹s also about showing the American public his humanity and ability to change.
³It would be so easy for him to do. So easy. He¹s right here. We¹re right here. Just to be real for five minutes, but to me, it¹s always been my feeling that it¹s a case of the emporer has no clothes. You know, he doesn¹t read the paper. he doesn¹t watch the news. His handlers keep him insulated. He really is disconnected with the pulse of this country and what people are feeling and what they are going through,² she said.
Still, Bush has said that he has met with people ‹ military families ‹ who disagree with his war stance, and he has said repeatedly that he won¹t ever change his mind about his policies. He certainly has a clear track record, too. When he doesn¹t have protestors corralled and then arrested, Bush has his limos drive past their demostrations, like he did on the way to raise money for the Republican National Committee last Friday, as Sheehan carried a poster by the roadside that said, ³Why do you make time for donors and not for me?²
Four recent Crawford High School graduates did express interest and visited the Peace House last week to see what all the hub-bub was about. Although the two that the Iconoclast interviewed requested that their identities be protected, it reveals that that curiosity is still valued in the Lone Star State.
³I¹m just interested in seeing other people¹s points of view on what all is going on in the country right now. We¹re living in history, you know, everyday. We live in Crawford, Texas, and to not be involved, that would be ridiculous. If you¹re living in this town, why not get out and see what¹s going on?² said John Doe¹s buddy, Jeff Doe, in that interview.
Maybe these boys, instead of bull-headed politicians and celebrity activists, can inspire the regular joes on the Left and the Right to chit-chat over a cup of coffee. It¹s just a thought, but an iconoclast can always dream.
Until then, the public, according to both Bush and Sheehan supporters, is more than likely going to hear more shouting across the stadium between pro-peace and pro-war advocates, and the only players on the field will be an angry military mom and a dove hunter who, though annoyed, empathizes with her, while the President is nowhere in sight.