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Monday, August 22, 2005

Mr. G's Thursday in Crawford or Camp Casey: Flying by the Seat of the Pants

Thursday, August 18, 2005

On this day I had to go to my office and prepare for
the upcoming semester, so Mr. G returned to Crawford
alone. He drove his truck so that he could carry more
tools and materials “just in case.”

Before I tell you more of what he saw on Thursday, I
want to backtrack to Tuesday the 16th for just one
moment. Some detractors have been muttering on the
blogs and elsewhere that the Gold Star families’
protest in Crawford is being coordinated by big name
celebrities or national political organizations.
From what we saw together on Tuesday and Mr. G saw
on Thursday, we doubt that this is the case. Rather,
the movement that Cindy Sheehan began when she arrived
in Crawford on August 6 seems to have sprung up out of
the ground overnight like mushrooms. The atmosphere
at the Crawford Peace House and at Camp Casey is
spontaneous, ad hoc, flying by the seat of the pants.
This thing began with a handful of people and grew so
big so fast that the folks are having a hard time
establishing control over personnel and other
resources.

Let me give you an example of what I mean. Before we
went up on Tuesday morning we had read about the
memorial crosses (and stars of David and crescents)
being mowed down overnight by the guy in the pickup.
We called the Peace House, said we were bringing
tools, and asked if they needed anything else. The
woman I talked to mentioned battery powered
spotlights, but she was unable to tell me size or
wattage and her description was altogether vague.
When we got there, the scene was happy and friendly
and welcoming, but complete chaos; the few people who
seemed to be trying to maintain order were overwhelmed
on every side. We again tried to find out about the
spotlights. We told at least three people that we had
a Lowe’s charge card with a credit balance in excess
of $500 and were prepared to use it if we only knew
what to get. We were thanked profusely and
repeatedly, but no one seemed to know what to do with
us or our charge card.

We never did find out what kind of spotlights they
needed, but someone at the Peace House was certain
that Mr. G’s carpentry skills and tools would be
useful at Camp Casey. When we got out there,
however, the memorial cross repairs were almost
finished. Clearly there was no reliable communication
between the Peace House and the camp about labor and
materials needed. The Peace House itself could have
used several repairs that Mr. G could easily have
performed, but nobody seemed able to make a decision
or provide directions even if there had been space to
work (which there was not—the tiny house was bulging
with people).

Now folks, you know that if this had been a
professionally run event, there would have been an
overall event coordinator, several communications
specialists, a volunteer coordinator, and somebody in
charge of gifts and donations. NO WAY would we have
gotten off the grounds until every last penny of
credit on that charge card had been spent. I say this
not to detract from the wonderful work being done
under very arduous conditions. Rather, I offer this
experience as evidence that the protest in Crawford is
an authentic grass-roots phenomenon and not some slick
political snow job made up to look like the real
thing.

Now, back to Mr. G’s Thursday in Crawford. He was
greeted at the Peace House by Barbara, the same lovely
San Diego lady who had greeted us on Tuesday—she was
still at her post managing shuttle traffic out to Camp
Casey. He had driven his truck with even more tools
and supplies, and still nobody knew what to do with
him, although as before he was profusely thanked and
told how desperately he was needed. (According to the
Crawford Peace House community blog a meeting was
scheduled on Thursday night to try to figure out how
to coordinate volunteer resources, although I don’t
know what came of it).

My assistant had written a prayer that she
asked Mr. G to deliver to Cindy if he could. He
took the envelope with him and when he got to Camp
Casey, sure enough, at one rare moment when she was
not surrounded by people asking her questions he
walked up to her, handed her the envelope and told her
it was from one of his wife’s co-workers. She
thanked him and hugged him; it seemed to mean a lot to
her.

While at Camp Casey Mr. G also met a woman named
Faith who had originally gone into Iraq before the war
as a “human shield.” When that effort failed to stop
the war, she stayed on and worked in an Iraqi
hospital. She told the story of a young Iraqi woman
who showed up at the hospital full-term pregnant. One
of her arms was gone and the other badly damaged. She
gave birth very soon thereafter, and the one arm she
had left could not be saved. The young woman looked
into Faith’s eyes with utter grief and said, “I can’t
hold my baby.”

There was a Code Pink volunteer who came all the way
from Australia to be at Camp Casey, and Mr. G met
her but didn’t get to visit with her for very long.
She and Faith seemed to know each other well. People
are coming to Crawford from everywhere: the Midwest,
the East and West coasts—even Honolulu—and several
foreign countries. Next time I go back I’ll look more
carefully at that cloth map.

Mr. G did spend time with a young man, an American,
who volunteered for the Army and was sent to Iraq.
When he got there and saw the reality of combat (as
opposed to training drills) he realized that there was
no way he was going to be able to use deadly force
against another human being. He turned in his rifle,
told whoever was in charge that he could not and would
not fight, and applied for conscientious objector
status. Eventually he did get it and was shipped
home. Mr. G didn’t think to ask him what kind of
discharge he received, if he did any time in the brig,
or other details. This same young man was also
present on Tuesday, but we didn’t get to talk much
with him then.

Mr. G had left Crawford and was on his way home when
the news came that Cindy’s mother had become ill and
she would have to leave camp. He didn’t know about
that until he got to church that night for our Peace &
Justice Affinity Group meeting. His impression, and
mine, is that Cindy will be missed for however long
she’s gone (and of course everyone wishes her mother a
fast and full recovery), but this quest for truth that
she began will not be deterred. If the Masters of War
think that the movement is going to dry up and blow
away, they had better think again.

That’s it for the report of Mr. G’s day on August
18. It’s actually Sunday the 21st as I write this,
and we wanted to get this out before heading back out
again this morning so that the stories of Thursday and
today don’t get muddled together. We’ll have more to
say later. Love and peace to all.
Momma G


[reproduced with permission from MommaG]

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