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For Whom the Bell Tolls: Camp Casey's Newest Recruits

By ilona

No man is an island, entire of itself...any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee. -- John Donne

No woman is an island either. Even if she's a powerhouse of a woman named Cindy Sheehan. This diary is a collection of news clippings to celebrate some of those who've heard the bell toll, and are now answering its call by descending on Camp Casey.

First, a good introduction:

The Chattanoogan [TN] Bart Whiteman:
Bush Backs Down from Encounter with Mrs. Sheehan [whole article highly recommended]

George W. can probably safely duck one woman for awhile, maybe forever. But what if another mother with a son killed in the Iraq War joins Cindy Sheehan? What if two join? Three? Four? Five? Six? What if some children whose fathers aren't coming back join the crowd? What if all the people in Iraq who have needlessly had family members killed by George's actions find a way to get to Texas? Crawford could start looking like a big city.

The metropolis grows.

Meet some of its newest arrivals and supporters below the fold...

ilona's diary :: ::
San Francisco Chronicle [CA]: A Vacaville Woman Whose Son Was Killed in Iraq Attracts Nationwide Protest

The pilgrims flocking to see her, some driving hundreds of miles after hearing one of the 200 interviews she has conducted this week, are different from the usual suspects who have been protesting the Iraq war for more than two years.

There's Rick Green, a 28-year-old trucker from Moody, Texas, who isn't sure about the war but lost his 13-year-old boy last year. There's Jonathan Read, a retired hotel executive from Arizona who ditched three days of golf to come here, donated $4,000 and then offered to pick up all of Sheehan's meals. There's Tiffany Strause, a 29-year-old computer consultant who arrived Tuesday from San Diego because it was time to "do something."

Unlike the bullhorn-wielding activists marching down Market Street in San Francisco or the armchair activists on, Sheehan is connecting with many Americans on the most human level.

Houston Chronicle [TX]: Protest By a Grieving Mother Gains Momentum

Some who have joined Sheehan say they made impulsive decisions to come here after learning about her protest on Web sites and other media. Matt Rosine, 29, a minister at the First Colony Christian Church in Sugar Land, said since he had the day off Wednesday he decided to jump in his car and drive to Crawford."I wanted to meet her (Sheehan) and say 'way to go,' " he said.

USAToday: Mother Who Lost Son in Iraq Inspires Swell of Bush Protestors

Trucker Craig Delaney, 53, was in Georgia on Monday when he heard numerous radio shows discussing Sheehan -- some criticizing her. He altered his route to California, heading for Texas, and got to Sheehan's site Wednesday morning. "I felt compelled to come and tell her I support her," said Delaney, a self-described hippie from Sly Park, Calif. "The way they were bad-mouthing a mother whose son was killed in the war is un-American."

Quad City Times [IL]: Area Mother Joining the Fray in Bush Country

A couple of books on tape, a cell phone and some junk food are the only things keeping Caryn Unsicker company on the long road. The Silvis, Ill., woman set out Wednesday morning on a 1,000-mile pilgrimage from her home to President Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas. She probably won't get but a few miles from the entrance to the sprawling retreat.

But she has to go.

Unsicker is adding her voice to the demand. After all, her son, a Marine, could be next. "He's in San Diego right now, but he's looking forward to going to Iraq, bless his heart," she said. "These kids are so full of good intentions and love of country, but they're too young to see the big picture. "His father was a Marine -- a real patriot who's always said of this country, `Either love it or leave it,' " she added. "And now even he is against this war. "This war is immoral, illegal and wrong. It's important our voices are heard, that more of us make it clear that we do not agree with this war."

MercuryNews [San Jose, CA]: Mother's Vigil at Bush Ranch Galvanizes Movement

``Cindy Sheehan has become the Rosa Parks of the anti-war movement,'' said Rev. Lennox Yearwood, leader of the Hip Hop Caucus, an activist group. ``She's tired, fed up and she's not going to take it anymore, and so now we stand with her.''

Seattle Post-Intelligencer [WA]: Mother's Peace Vigil Gains Support

"We're all Cindy Sheehan," said [Lietta] Ruger, [from Bay Center, WA] who plans to stay at the makeshift encampment until Monday. "When I left Seattle yesterday my 5-year-old grandson said, 'Grandma's going to talk to the president so Daddy doesn't have to go away again,' " said Ruger, whose son-in-law and nephew have already served in Iraq.

About 30 people gathered at the Jackson Federal Building in downtown Seattle Wednesday evening to support Sheehan's demand to speak with Bush and to protest the war. "This mother has called (Bush) on (his reason for going to war) and we need to support her," said protest organizer Judith Shattuck, a member of Progressive Democrats for America. That organization called for solidarity protests nationwide on the eve of when it thinks Sheehan will be removed from her roadside vigil, Shattuck said.

Teri Barclay, a Duvall mother who works in Seattle, said her son served two tours with the Marines in Iraq before he was discharged in September 2004. She's been against the war from the beginning but has grown increasingly angry that U.S. troops have not had the equipment and supplies they need to protect themselves, and that the Department of Veterans Affairs has not had the money to properly help them when they return home. Barclay was especially upset that Bush has gone on vacation while the nation is at war and men like her son are dying in Iraq. "Our sons have sacrificed a lot, and where is his sacrifice? Where is his support?" Barclay asked.

Sheehan's support includes a caravan of people who left Wednesday from Houston to join her roadside encampment near Waco. And some Swedes have even donated portable toilets that were set up outside the Peace House in Crawford.

Scottsdale Republic [AZ]: Scottsdale Moms Joins Crawford Anti-War Protest

Determined to keep "the pressure up," two Scottsdale mothers have joined a vigil outside the President Bush's remote ranch near Crawford, Texas where protestors are demanding that he pull troops out of Iraq. Sherry Bohlen and Rebecca Bahr, of Scottsdale arrived in Crawford Wednesday afternoon, joining about 200 people, many of whom are camping in tents on muddy grounds about a mile from the ranch.

"This is a real pivotal moment in the anti-war movement," said Bohlen, who has a son in Iraq. "We want to raise public awareness." The protest is spreading to Phoenix, where Bohlen said anti-war groups are expected to gather at noon Friday at 24th Street and Camelback Road.

San Diego Union Tribune [CA]: Local Women Join War Protester

The idea of making a spontaneous trip to President Bush's vacation ranch was born when Julie Decker read a newspaper article a couple of days ago and immediately called her good friend Tiffany Strause. The story was about a Northern California woman whose son had been killed in Iraq and who subsequently decided to camp out in front of Bush's Texas ranch until she got a face-to-face meeting with him.

Yesterday morning, a day after reading the piece, Strause, who lives in San Marcos, and Decker, who lives in Carlsbad, were on a plane to Crawford, Texas, to join the woman in her vigil. They intend to stay, they said, until Bush - who is on vacation at the ranch for the next five weeks - agrees to meet Cindy Sheehan of Vacaville in person. Neither of the two women knows Sheehan, whose 24-year-old son, Casey, an Army specialist, was killed in Baghdad in April 2004. Neither has a child, much less one who has been killed in Iraq. And neither had been active in the anti-war movement. They hadn't attended any "protests or peace rallies or anything like that," Strause said. "Both of us are very busy."

But they share with Sheehan the firm belief that the war is a colossal mistake. And when they heard about Sheehan's story, "it was like the straw that broke the camel's back," said Strause, 29, who works as a consultant in the computer industry. "We just want to do something," she said. "We're so sick of being on the sidelines. Being busy isn't an excuse anymore."

She called the war "this generation's Vietnam."

After reading the news article, Decker, 40, a health care executive, tracked down Sheehan with her cell phone number, obtained from the Associated Press reporter who wrote the piece. Decker asked what she could do to help. "I need bodies," replied Sheehan, who had been camping for several days in a sleeping bag not far from the president's compound. So Decker and Strause booked a flight, packed some clothes and told the men in their lives - Decker is married and Strause is engaged - they'd be gone several weeks.

"I support you," Strause's fiance told her. "I'll take care of the dogs. You just go."

The women landed in Texas yesterday afternoon, rented a car and headed to Crawford, where they intend to stay in a hotel near where Sheehan is camping out. A half-dozen other people had already arrived to camp alongside her.

News-Leader [Springfield, MO]: Bound for Texas to Ask Questions

I am the mother of an active-duty Marine who will shortly be deployed to Iraq. I'm packing my bags to head down to Crawford, Texas, to join Cindy Sheehan, a Gold Star mother who lost her son in Iraq. She is sitting outside our president's home, waiting to meet with him so he can explain to her what the "noble cause" is that her son died for.

I have a few simple questions I would like to ask him myself.

Our troops are for the defense of this country. There are no WMDs. Why are we still in Iraq?
Has he read the Downing Street memo yet? I have. I would like to know why, if they knew there were no WMDs there, they didn't bother to inform the American people of that at the time.

My father was occupying the seats of one of those airplanes in Vietnam that our president didn't have the time to fill. He didn't make it back. I refuse to watch my son go off for a very bad replay of Vietnam without a fight.

This president has wrapped himself in the honor of our armed forces to advance his agendas and deflect legitimate questioning of his policies. I think it's way past time he was held to account for this. So I'm headed to Texas to join Cindy.

Valarie Fletcher, Seymour

WISH-TV [Indianapolis, IN]: Local Military Wife Supports Cindy Sheehan

"I believe that the war in Iraq has done nothing but fuel the fire of the hatred. And it's like putting a stick in a wasp's nest. I think that's what we're doing in Iraq," said Jari Sheese, whose husband was in Iraq for a year. Sheese is part of a group called Military Families Speak Out. She says President Bush should pull American troops out of Iraq and make time to speak to Cindy Sheehan. "I'm very proud of her. I wish that I could be there by her side right now."

Seattle Times [WA]: Anti-war Voice Resonates in Mother's Texas Vigil

Charlie Cook, an independent political analyst, said: "Anything that focuses media and public attention on Iraq war casualties day after day -- particularly [something] that is a good visual for television, like a weeping Gold Star mother -- is a really bad thing for President Bush and his administration. "Americans get a little numb by the numbers of war casualties, but when faces, names and families are added, it has a much greater effect," he said.

Washington Post: Bush Says He Sympathizes With Protester

Celeste Zappala of Philadelphia said her son, Sgt. Sherwood Baker, was killed in Baghdad while looking for nonexistent weapons of mass destruction. "This war is a disaster," Zappala said. "It is a betrayal of our military. It is a betrayal of our democracy." The protesters have strung placards along the roadside saying things such as "Who would Jesus bomb?" and "Who lied? Who died? Who paid? Who profits?" They also drove dozens of small, white wooden crosses into the ground along the road, in honor of those killed in Iraq.

AP/Decatur [GA]: Grieving Mothers Speak Out Against Iraq War

Mary Ann MacCombie blinked through her tears Thursday and took a very public stand against the war in Iraq that cost her son his life. Surrounded by TV cameras and reporters, MacCombie blasted the U.S. involvement in Iraq in honor of her son, Sgt. Ryan Campbell, who was killed in April 2004 in a car bombing in south Iraq. "It's too late for my son, but not for his best friend and thousands of other soldiers," said MacCombie, who was part of a procession of mothers that protested the war outside a veteran's hospital.

"It is time to answer the call and say no more pain, no more false leadership and no more war," said Patricia Roberts, whose son, Spc. Jamaal Rashard Addison, was killed in Iraq in March 2003.

Some demonstrators hoped Sheehan's stand would further illuminate what they called an "illegal war." "My only wish right now is that I could be in Crawford, Texas now with Cindy," said Howard Wolf, a Vietnam veteran and member of Veterans for Peace.

MacCombie said she's disagreed with other mothers of soldiers in online chatrooms over her stance. But she and other demonstrators, some who brought their toddlers, said speaking against the war is just maternal instinct. "I think they took the only stand you can take if you're a mother that has any conscience," said Ronda Reynolds, a protester.

Voice of America: Grieving Families Demand Answers from President

Rosemary Palmer says she's tired of hearing about dying soldiers. "Either we got to fight this war or we got to get out. We all have to be aware that if we don't stand up and say that, this war can drag on forever. The politicians are not over there. They are not fighting. They are not losing their kids."

Kansas City InfoZine [MO]: Military Families Gathering in Crawford

Monica Benderman is the wife of Sgt. Kevin Benderman. She said yesterday: "Kevin has been imprisoned for refusing to participate in war by filing a Conscientious Objector application against the wishes of his command." She has written a letter to Bush and Rumsfeld available at the above web page. She said today: "Obviously the Iraq war is where Kevin had his experiences that motivated him to request CO status and not return to participate in this war. We want the war over, and we want to work toward finding an alternative to solving our differences so that war never has to happen again."

She continued: "Kevin loved his fellow soldiers and he thought he could keep them safe by deploying with them and working on their vehicles. He couldn't save them by being there, even with countless hours maintaining equipment; still men died. ... We need to stop this war now, and we need to relegate war to the past, making the future more humane. "

Norman Solomon, executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, is the author of "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death." He said yesterday: "The Pentagon has indicated that it will increase the number of American troops in Iraq during the next few months -- but the looming 2006 congressional election campaign has spurred the Bush administration to begin a series of official statements and orchestrated leaks forecasting that American troop levels in Iraq might drop next year. A basic fault line has developed underneath the political ground where President Bush has pitched his rhetorical tent. From here to the horizon, in view of the actual military situation in Iraq, the president's Vietnam-War-style pledge not to 'cut and run' would logically preclude a substantive reduction of U.S. troops there. Yet, by a widening margin, most of the American public does not approve of Bush's war in Iraq. The administration is playing for time -- floating scenarios for sizeable troop withdrawals without making the slightest commitment that they will actually take place."


Helena News [MT]: Helena Woman Joining War Protest in Texas

The Helena wife of a U.S. soldier has joined a growing vigil outside the presidential ranch in Crawford, Texas, where she vows to remain until the end of the month, or until President Bush meets face to face with protesters.

Tammara Rosenleaf left Helena for Texas to visit her husband, Army Spc. Sean Hefflin, at a military base there before joining the vigil near the president's ranch. "Bush has asked our husbands and wives, our sons and daughters, to go and die for his war," Rosenleaf said. "We're here to hold Bush's feet to the fire until he gives us some honest answers. He's given us the reasons why we're at war, but they've turned out to be untruths." […]"We think the president owes it to the people of the United States to tell the truth," Rosenleaf said.

Beacon News [Suburban Chicago, IL]: Fallen Soldier’s Girl, Mother Are Vigilant

Amid the yelling [outside the gates at Caterpillar for President Bush’s appearance Wednesday] was 26-year-old Ph.D. student Sabrina Worsham, who represented one of the few common causes among the diverse dissenters. Most of the time, she stood quietly, holding up a picture of her high school boyfriend, a dead soldier whose mom has garnered national attention.

Army Spc. Casey Sheehan was killed April 4, 2004, when his unit was attacked by rocket-propelled grenades and small-arms fire. His family and friends, like former sweetheart Worsham, were devastated that he died at 24. "The mood is ... finally. Finally we have some momentum," Worsham said Wednesday. "It shows sometimes you have to give up family, everything, to get answers." Although Worsham and Casey Sheehan dated just briefly, she has stayed close to the family — "almost a surrogate daughter" — since his death.

"I think the populace has to wake up," she said. "The average person has to realize that the 30-second media clips about 14 people dying affect families forever."

Common Dreams: Sheehan Draws Tears of Support

When Robert DeLozier saw the story of Cindy Sheehan on television Sunday, he told his spouse right away: 'I'm going up there. We have to drop everything and go.' At the Sam's Club of all places, says Robert, he nearly broke down crying while he was shopping Monday morning thinking about what Sheehan was doing in memory of her son Casey, who was killed in Iraq last April.

'She's a strong woman,' says Robert via cell phone as he drives back home Monday night. 'She feels she has been wronged. She feels her son has been wronged. And she feels like this whole occupation of Iraq is wrong. She is strong and powerful enough to take a stand. When I see it, it just strikes a chord. She's speaking truth to power. That's it. David and Goliath.'

Austin American-Statesman [TX]: Austinites Voice Support for Fallen Soldier’s Mother

The mother of a fallen U.S. soldier got a show of support from a crowd of Austinites outside federal offices downtown Wednesday. About 50 people, including state Rep. Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth, huddled in the rain between the Thornberry Judicial Building and Pickle Federal Building to protest the war in Iraq and to support Cindy Sheehan, who has been camped out in Crawford requesting an audience with President Bush.

"The government should open (its) ears to hear the clamor of the people," said Josefina Castillo. "Not listening thickens the wall between those who want peace and those who make decisions."

"We love this country; we love this Constitution just as much as anybody else," said Burnam, who is a Quaker. "All of us are here today to thank Cindy for her role in drawing attention to this matter."

Editor & Publisher/Greg Mitchell: Cindy Sheehan, Bill Mitchell and the Lost Boys
[The Crawford Lone Star Iconcast] recounted in Q&A form [an] interview…with a man who had also lost a son in Iraq, and had flown in from California to stand with Sheehan. I read in [the] interview that Bill Mitchell’s son Mike had died on the same day, April 4, 2004, as Sheehan’s son Casey -- and in the same Sadr City incident.

Mitchell, who lives in Atascadero, Calif., explained that his life was still in turmoil because of his son’s death. But he felt he should continue to speak out because the parents of the dead “have a certain credibility. We’re not someone up there that’s just espousing some belief. We’re victims of the war like many other people are.


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