Thursday, August 18, 2005
We definitely deserve some foot massages tonight! This afternoon, over 100 of us marched three miles from Camp Casey to the gate of President Bush's ranch in 90 degree heat, all to deliver hundreds of letters written by women to Laura Bush. Our marching group ranged from infants to octogenarians, and was led by some really gutsy moms.
Despite the heat (and I know we keep talking about the heat, but man it's hot!!), we were totally energized by our goal. As we walked along singing "This Land is Our Land" and "God Bless America," we couldn't fathom that we were about to do what no one had done before: march up the entrance of the President's ranch, special delivery in hand, without shots being fired. But we definitely did not expect what was there waiting for us... emerging from behind the beefy Secret Service agents was a Bush staffer ready to personally accept our letters to the First Lady!
Medea Benjamin of CODEPINK and Mimi Evans, whose son is about to deploy, presented baskets full of letters to Bill Burke just outside the Bush ranch. The two mothers and peace activists reiterated our appeal to Mrs. Bush to persuade her husband to end the war in Iraq. Mimi implored, "From one mother to another, we ask Mrs. Bush to help us bring our children home safe and sound." Mr. Burke was very kind, saying, "It is an honor to receive these letters from you. I will make sure they get to the First Lady." Medea added afterwards, "Mr. Burke, thank you for being so gentlemanly and respectful and coming out to meet with us" (as in, "coming out to meet with mothers is the gentlemanly and respectful thing to do".)
Hundreds of women sent in letters to through the website and the e-mail address (firstname.lastname@example.org), and we are so grateful. Medea and I spent this afternoon before the march reading through some of them, and so many moved us to tears. You wrote beautifully about your love for your children and your desire to protect all children from harm. If you didn't get a chance to send one today, please take a moment to write one soon-- we are thinking of publishing a book of these letters titled, "Dear Laura: Women's Letters to End the War."Photograph by Emily Sharpe, copyright 2005.
Here are some of my favorite pics that are streaming in from last night's vigils. This first one (left) is just outside of President Bush's "other" residence in D.C. More than 450 showed up on Pennsylvania Ave to stand with Cindy.
(right) We don't know where this one is from but I think it's how many of us feel.
Message from Cindy
Cindy wanted to pass this message on to her supporters, both here in Camp Casey and and around the world:
"I'm going to take care of my mother right now, but I hope to be back before the end of August. Meanwhile, keep the camp together, and keep your spirits high. I may have started this camp out, but I'm counting on you to continue the movement. The call to end the war must be made by everyone!"
Cindy, we're thinking of you and praying for your mother's health. Do what you need to do and we'll see you soon! We'll move our camp early tomorrow morning before the Interfaith service at noon, and we're really looking forward to having more space and security (and being closer to Bush's ranch ;) The camp will be even bigger and better by the time you return to us.
Cindy To Los Angeles
We got word a few hours ago that Cindy's mother had a stroke. We dont' know how serious the stroke is and cannot tell you whether she is in stable condition or not. Cindy and her sister left a hour ago to take a plane to LA from Waco. Our thoughts and prayers are with her and her immediate family.
We are still here. Over 300 people are on the grounds right now. Over 200 mothers are marching right now. Its Thursday. We will have thousands here by Saturday. We need your help in sending this message to President Bush: Get out sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, neighbors and schoolteachers, husbands and wives out of Iraq.
This stand will continue. The Iraq Veterans Against the War are still here. The Veterans for Peace are still here. Military Families Speak Out are all still here. Goldstar Families, founded by Cindy and her sister, are still here. And you're still here. Come to Crawford. Stand with us.
Request for help
A request from the fantastic volunteers who are trying to ensure the efficient operation of Camp Casey and the Crawford Peace House:
"WE NEED YOUR HELP!!! The magic of the Crawford Peace House can't happen by itself. As more and more people come into Crawford, the greater the need for volunteers. Be a PART OF HISTORY-- sign up to volunteer!! For those you you already in Crawford or planning to arrive soon, the 1st meeting of Peace House volunteers will take play TODAY, Thursday August 18th at 8 p.m. at the Crawford Peace House. For further inquiries, please call 254-486-0099."
We assure you, volunteering here is an incredible experience. Every person who has come through here has been able to apply his or her skills for the benefit of all. Doctors and nurses attend to medical concerns; tech people set up the wireless network and printers; cooks feed the masses; postal workers handle the incoming and outgoing mail; carpenters repair the house and build shelves; lawyers provide legal advice; massage therapists care for our achy bodies; gardeners landscape the house's yard; and people who have just finished their senior theses write the blog (well, that would be me ;) So when you come to Crawford, look forward to meeting Cindy, talking to fellow citizens against the war, and using your skills and training to support our group's well being here in Crawford!
Letters to Laura
Thursday is Women's Day here at Camp Casey. Reflecting Cindy's role as a mother and woman promoting peace, we have organized events for other women to join her in this effort. Women play such a vital role in peacemaking because we often bear the greatest burdens of war- the loss of spouses and children; the crippling anxiety of having a relative far away in battle; the hardship of running households single-handedly; and the financial strains of a war-time economy. Even if we have never had a relative or friend in war, we can sympathize with those mothers and grandmothers and sisters who have suffered.
We are also appealing to one mother in particular today: America's First Lady and Mother, Mrs. Laura Bush. Her husband may not have responded to our call for peace and justice, but we are hoping that Laura will act in her capacity as a woman and mother to persuade her husband to meet with Cindy and other military mothers, and work to bring America's sons and daughters home as soon as possible. Women of America, help us encourage Mrs. Bush to join our efforts by writing to her at email@example.com. We will be printing all of your letters out by 3 p.m. today (central time) and then at 5 p.m., the women of Camp Casey-- daughters, sisters, mothers, grandmothers, aunts-- will march three miles to the Bush ranch to deliver these letters to her. We know it's short notice, but the act is so important, and above all, we want you women of America to be able to express your sentiments against the war.
Thu Aug 18th, 2005 at 10:02:17 PDT
Our candlelight vigil at Camp Casey was beautiful tonight. There were hundreds of people here and we are hearing that hundreds of people were involved in vigils around the country. We at Camp Casey are so amazed and gratified that there were almost 1700 vigils around the country.
CNN followed me around for the morning to do a "Day in the Life" of Cindy Sheehan. I kept asking them if they were falling asleep from boredom yet. I was on Anderson Cooper and it was pretty good. Anderson didn't ask me about the Israel thing because he had checked with Nightline. But he followed with a talk show, hate monger host, Darrell Ankarlo who I have had problems with in the past. He said that I have said that I believe all of the troops are murderers and I have never said that, either. Darrell Ankarlo wanted me to be on his show, but I don?t think so.
Another thing is that the Israel thing has not died. I did not say that my son died for Israel. I have never said it, I don?t think it, I don?t believe it. It is just another lie, smear tactic from the right. It needs to die right now. It?s not the truth. I stand by everything that I have said. But I will not stand by things that I haven?t said. I am not anti-Semitic. I am just anti-killing. George Bush is responsible for killing so many people, but nobody scrutinizes anything he says, especially leading up to the war. Since there is nothing to smear me about with the truth, they have to tell lies. A former friend who is anti-Israel and wants to use the spotlight on me to push his anti-Semitism is telling everyone who is listening that I believe that Casey died for Israel and has gone so far as to apparently doctor an email from me. People have to know that he doesn?t speak for me. ABC Nightline can?t confirm his email is real and therefore any reporting on it is irresponsible. That is not my issue. That is not my message and anyone who knows me knows it doesn?t sound like me.
I'm focused on my mission in Crawford: to meet with the President and demand answers. That?s it. I have spent enough time on that. Enough is enough.
So, tonight was a great night with the vigil capping it off. There are so many good things happening around the country. I love the people of America, especially after seeing the most amazing stories from the vigils across the country.
Strength in numbers
While we were keeping vigil here in Crawford, 103,000 of you were lighting candles in over 1,600 locations across the United States. Move On is collecting pictures from the nation-wide vigils-- you can add your own by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. They ask that you include the city, state, and any other details in the body of the e-mail.
Our vigil was, despite intense media presence, incredibly moving. It began with Iraq war veterans Hart Viges and Charlie Anderson flanking a flag-draped coffin, standing at attention, while fellow Iraq vet Aidan Gonzalez spoke about the cost of war: "Whether we win or lose the war, the loss will still be measured in the deaths of thousands of Americans and Iraqis." As a group of supporters began to sing, we lit our candles and started to walk in a procession around the triangular piece of land bordering the camp. Cindy remained by the coffin, holding Hart's hand in her's. When she spoke later at the vigil she said, crying, "When I was walking holding Hart's hand, I pretended that it was my son's hand. But I'll never get to hold Casey's hand again."
The vigil was very emotional for all of us. Being here at Camp Casey is thrilling, because we know we are acting to end the illegal war in Iraq. But it is also draining-- the heat, the pressure of organizing the hundreds of people who come here every day, and above all, the stories of loss that come from military families and vets, can sometimes combine to push us to our limits. That's why it's so important for us to know that outside of our little world that is Crawford, TX, millions of other Americans and people around the world are supporting our efforts through their thoughts, prayers, donations of money and supplies, and pledges to travel down here.
Photo by Emily Sharpe, copyright 2005.