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Camp Casey, Day 18
By Cindy Sheehan
I got up really early today to head back to Camp Casey. On the way, I had some amazing conversations with people. In one of those conversations, I was talking to Tyler who was sitting next to me on one of the planes.
We were not talking about me and what I have been doing. Randomly, he told me he had just been in Texas about an hour north of Crawford. I said: "Wow that's where I am going and that's where I have been all month." He said: "I know I own a television." I thought that was pretty cute.
I got to Camp Casey and I arrived with a mom whose son, John, was killed on January 26, 2005, and his wife and baby, who never met his dad. We arrived in Waco at about 4:30 to the local press. The White House Press Corps was still with the president.
When I arrived at Camp Casey II this afternoon I was amazed at what has changed since I was gone. Now, we have a huge tent to get out of the sun; caterers; an orientation tent; a medic tent (with medics); a chapel, etc.
The most emotional thing for me though was walking through the main tent and seeing the huge painting on canvas of Casey. Many things hit me all at once: That this huge movement began because of Casey's sacrifice; thousands, if not millions of people know about Casey and how he lived his life and the wrongful way in which he was killed; but the thing that hit me the hardest was how much I miss him. I miss him more everyday. It seems the void in my life grows as time goes on and I realize I am never going to see him again or hear his voice. In addition to all this, the portrait is so beautiful and moving and it captures Casey's spirit so well. I sobbed and sobbed. I was surrounded by photographers, I looked around until I finally found a friendly face, then the news people crushed in on me and I couldn't breathe. I didn't mean to have such a dramatic re-entrance to Camp Casey, but the huge portrait of Casey really surprised me.
I can take all of the right wing attacks on me. I have been lied about and to before. Their attacks just show how much I am getting to them and how little truth they have to tell. What really hurts me the most is when people say that I am dishonoring Casey by my protest in Crawford. By wanting our troops to come home alive and well, that I am somehow not supporting them.
So, after Joan Baez gave us a great concert tonight, I got up and I talked about Casey. About the sweet boy who grew up to be a remarkable young man. Casey was not always a brave, big soldier man. He was my sweet, sweet baby once. I told the people at the Camp named after him, that when he was about 2 years old, he would come up behind me and throw his arms around my legs, kiss me on the butt and say: "I wuv you mama." I also talked about the loving big brother and wonderful, nearly perfect son. Casey was a regular guy who wanted to get married, have a family, be an elementary school teacher, and a Deacon in the Catholic Church. He wanted to be a Chaplain?s assistant in the Army, but was lied to about that also by his recruiter. The last time I talked to him when he called from Kuwait, ! he was on his way to mass.
For Casey to even join the Army, let alone being killed in battle was the thing that was most uncharacteristic of him. He was a gentle and kind soul who only wanted to help others. What did his untimely and unnecessary death accomplish? It accomplished reinvigorating a peace movement that was sincere, but not very active -- or if active, not well covered by the main stream media.
Joan sang the song Joe Hill In it Joe Hill says: "I never died." Well, looking out at the faces here at Camp Casey, and knowing that for everyone who is present here, there are thousands of others who support our work, I am convinced that Casey never died, and he never will. When I look into the eyes of the kind and gentle souls who have come here, I see Casey and the faces of all the others killed in George Bush?s war for greed and profit. We will never forget them and we will honor them by working for peace.
Joan also sang "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot." A thousand angels waiting there for me? I know Casey will be waiting for me when it is my turn, and I know when I finally get there he?'s going to hug me and say: "Good job, Mom."