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A Bereaved Mother's Crawford Vigil
TIME reporter visits an antiwar protest outside the President's ranch
By Hilary Hylton/Crawford, Texas
Wednesday's rains are gone, now, and Cindy Sheehan, who's been ensconced outside President Bush's ranch since last weekend protesting what she calls the needless death of her son in Iraq, shades her eyes as she sits on the roadside along Prairie Chapel Ranch Road. She's doing two interviews simultaneously, one on her cell phone and another with a reporter on the scene. Sheehan is surrounded by some 60 supporters and a small roadside field of white crosses. Signs saying "Jesus Wept," "Bush: Meet with Cindy" and "Iraq = Arabic for Vietnam" line the country road, along with bongo drums and small lean-tos for shade.
The protestors are supplied with large jugs of water and iced tea by a volunteer shuttle service based at the Crawford Peace House, in this tiny Texas town some 20 miles south of Waco. Tracy Sivacek, the 40-year-old wife of an Army Apache helicopter pilot, delivers water to Sheehan's busy outpost. Sivacek left behind her husband and disabled five-year-old son on Monday and drove nonstop from Fort Rucker, Alabama to Crawford, pausing only to sleep in a Waffle House parking lot. Her husband served one tour in Iraq and, she says, he has not been handling the adjustment back home well. Despite his reservations, she felt she had to support Sheehan's anti-war protest.
"It's not unfair for us to ask questions,' Sivacek says, adding she'd been concerned about the war even before her husband was posted to Iraq. "(War) is just too much for any person," she says. In addition to the pressure of raising a disabled child, Sivacek says her uncle, a Vietnam veteran, had committed suicide in June of this year, compounding her fears about America's fighting forces and military spouses.
Sivacek's concerns about the war led her to start posting on antiwar web logs, though up til now she had never even joined any protests. As she watches law enforcement officers drive by periodically to ensure protestors remain in a designated area about two miles from the Bush ranch, Sivacek says she's become more confident now that she's met up with some of her virtual friends. She intends to stay at the protest site at least until Saturday — or until she and her fellow protestors are arrested or run off.