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Monday, August 22, 2005

They Ain't Going Away Anytime Soon and Momma G meets Joan B

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Momma and Mr. G in Crawford again.

We arrived at the Crawford Peace House about 12:30 and
the first thing we noticed as we pulled up was that
the parking was better organized and cars were parked
in neat rows on vacant strips of land next to the
railroad tracks. My first thought was, “Wow, they’ve
been doing some strategizing and learning how to
manage these crowds.” There was a HUGE U-Haul truck
with a sign on the side: “One Mother’s Grief,
America’s Pain.” In the front yard, Pax Christi was
taking care of the guest book and offering tee shirts
for sale. Looks like a lot of on-the-job learning
has taken place in the last five days. It’s even more
evident at Camp Casey II, the new encampment set up on
the land loaned by good neighbor Fred Mattlage.

There in the Peace House yard some volunteers were
making more crosses; there’s more room for them out at
Camp Casey II, and every soldier now will have one
eventually. While there, we heard one of the
volunteers tell an alternative newspaper that the man
who ran over the crosses on Monday night has expressed
deep remorse. She said that the man is a Vietnam
veteran with PTSD and all of this just creeped him out
and he lost it and now regrets it. By the way, do you
know that 30% of our returning Iraq veterans are being
diagnosed with PTSD?

Drove our car on out to the original Camp Casey, now
called Camp Casey I. Saw about 50 people still
encamped there. None of the original tents have been
moved, and Camp Casey II (corner of Prairie Chapel &
Canaan Church Rd. in the middle of nowhere!) is a
totally new tent city. But more on that in a minute.
I counted about 15 counterprotesters across the road
(and believe this — they sent the sheriff over to ask
if they could use the Camp Casey I port-a-potties, and
of course the kind folks consented). The memorial
crosses are now decorated with the roses that started
coming to Cindy last Tuesday after the news got out
about the vandalism.

Mr. G and I checked out the US map again to see
where everyone was coming from. It was a LOT more
filled in that it was five days ago when I last saw it
(I hope Mr. G’s pictures come out—we just had a
cheap little disposable camera with us). The
volunteers there said that every single state in the
Union was accounted for—all 50 of them. Moreover,
there were signatures from London; Toronto & Quebec,
Canada; Glasgow, Scotland; Karachi, Pakistan;
Istanbul, Turkey; Bogota, Colombia; Poland, Austria,
Japan, Brazil, Mexico, and Paraguay—and probably
others that I missed. Just today we saw license
plates from Texas, Ohio, West Virginia, Louisiana,
Kansas, Indiana, Florida, and California—and of
course, we didn’t see them all.

Took the shuttle from there out to Camp Casey II and
my, oh, my! Out in the middle of the prairie there’s
a HUGE party tent equipped with tables & chairs,
lights & sound, and a modern camp kitchen serving food
and drinks 24/7 (no alcohol allowed!). There’s a
field of crosses and flags there too and some of the
military families who are supporting Cindy are camped
all around the perimeter in small tents; others
remained encamped at Camp Casey I. Both camps are
immaculate—not a scrap of trash is left lying around,

This is a very fluid crowd with people coming and
going all the time, but my best guess is between 50
and 60 at Camp Casey I at any given time and between
200 and 300 at Camp Casey II with room for a lot more.
That big tent was nowhere near full! Those news
reports that are talking about “dozens” of protesters
are just silly; a more accurate representation would
be “hundreds.” I saw old people—way older than me
and Mr. G—and tiny children. One mother was there
nursing her baby and I thought about that poor woman
in Iraq who could not hold her newborn baby to nurse
because her arms were blown away by the war. There
were lots of dogs there too; one looked like Jen’s
Lewis. We made phone contact with Fr. Greg’s friend,
the Rev. Bacon, who is rector of All Saints
Episcopal Church in Pasadena, California, but we never
did find each other. We were in shuttles going
opposite directions when we hooked up, and then my
phone quit working—no service on the prairie.

Think this is going away any time soon? Not according
to Mimi Evans of “Military Families Speak Out.”
According to her, from this point on wherever GWB goes
there will be a military family camped out on his
doorstep until he answers their questions—the Capital,
Utah, Minnesota, Maine—wherever, they’re ready to go.
I had heard whispers of following him to Washington DC
as early as last Tuesday, but this is the first I
heard it announced in public. I hope they stick to

And as early as last Tuesday I had also heard whispers
that Joan Baez “might” appear. Well, dear hearts, she
is in Crawford at this minute. We couldn’t stay to
hear her—we had to come back home and tend to our
elderly and frail dog who had been alone all day—but
we heard that she had arrived at the Peace House (our
shuttle driver had a cell phone that worked) and we
went back there to see if we could get a glimpse of
her before heading for home. Well, Mr. G turned his
back at just the wrong moment and missed a GREAT
picture. I was walking in the front door of the Peace
House at the very moment she was walking out and we
surprised each other. (She is very petite, beautiful
skin, and her once-black hair is now short and
streaked with gray on the top and sides—just
gorgeous!). For lack of anything better to say I
said, “Oh! It really is you,” and added hastily, “God
bless you for being here.” She smiled, squeezed my
hand, and said, “Ditto.” And then she got into a van
and headed out to Camp Casey II to sing for those
military families and their supporters.

Heard very hopeful news on Cindy’s mom. She’s
beginning to get some gripping power back in her hand,
and while she still can’t speak she is able to laugh
and respond appropriately. This suggests that speech
is likely to return with proper therapy. Cindy is
expected back in camp on Wednesday.

Our next planned visit is Tuesday, so we’ll miss her
by one day. We may just have to miss church next
Sunday if we’re to get back out there before camp
breaks up here and moves to Washington DC. Peace
and love to all.

[reproduced with permission from MommaG]


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