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Bring Them Home Now Tour Report #1
Bring Them Home Now Tour Report #1
by Crawford Peace House [Subscribe]
Sun Sep 4th, 2005 at 19:44:55 PDT
This report comes from Lisa Fithian who is part of the tour that left Crawford on Wednesday:
Dear Allies and Organizers,
The Bring Them Home Now Tour is on its fifth day of the journey from Camp Casey, Crawford, TX to Washington DC. Here is a quick summary of the events on each route as of Sept 3...
Stop 1: Austin - Aug. 31
The VFP Bus, the White Rose and the Tour RV arrived just before 4:00 and proceeded to a meeting with Congressman Lloyd Doggett's office where we met with his top aide. The meeting was overwhelmingly positive and Doggett's support for our cause was affirmed
From there our convoy pulled up before a large crowd in front of the Capitol where State Senator Barrientos welcomed Cindy to Texas. She commented how great it was to finally be welcomed. We left the Capitol in a spirited march singing " Let there be peace on earth" and chanting Bring the Troops Home Alive" " What Noble Cause" " No More War - How Many More" and "Not One More". Gathering people along the way we arrived at the City Council about 2,500 strong. There was a powerful and moving rally featuring Cindy, IVAW speaker Jeff Keyes, Gold Star Family members Brooke Beasley and her mother Julie Cuniglio of Dallas, TX who are the proud cousin and aunt of Marine SSgt Aaron Dean White, who lost his life to the Iraqi on May 19, 2003. VFP member Ann Wright also spoke along with several local politicians and prominent community members like Jim Hightower. There was great music by Joe Ely, Eliza Gilkerson, David Rovics and Amy Cook. The rally was followed by a delicious dinner for the Tour at Threadgills restaurant, donated by the owner.
Stop 2: Houston, TX - Sept. 1
We arrive in Houston about 4:00 in the afternoon where we attempted to meet with Majority Leader Tom Delay in his main office in Sugarland, TX. While Delay was in the District were only able to get the District Director on the phone for a conference call. We attempted to secure a meeting, but were told to fill out a form and there were no guarantees. We explained how three of his constituents, all mothers, had been requesting a meeting, but still have not been successful at securing one. We urged Tom Delay's office to set up a meeting as soon as possible and affirmed our ability to accommodate the Majority Leaders Schedule. We got no other answers to our questions.
At 6:30 pm we were warmly welcomed at the Resurrection Metropolitan Community Church in Houston, by a crowd of almost 1000. We saw a powerful film by the Arlington West group on Camp Casey. Cindy was awarded a spine award. We heard from tour participants and local Gold Star mother Amy Branham. The event was followed by a delicious dinner and a local religious university graciously provided our housing.
Stop 3: Shreveport, LA - Sept 3
We set up mid-day meet and greet where we set up a mini Camp Casey in Princess Park in downtown Shreveport. There was one counter protestor who turned up but Phil was able to talk with him and turned him around. That evening we held a candlelight vigil outside Barksdale Air Force Base. There was lots of honking and peace signs being flashed by those going in and out of the base. We were fed and house in community members homes and had all of our needs met.
Stop 1: Dallas Report - Aug 31
Central Bus arrived in Dallas at 4:00 PM at North Haven United Methodist Church. Mia Lorraine, Hart, Kelissa Stanley, and Vince George proceeded to the offices of Senator Hutchinson and had a meeting with Cynthia Hall, the representative for Senator Kay Hutchison the discussion focused on urging the Senator to work more diligently with Congress on an exit plan for Iraq. The consensus amongst the group was that the meeting was a success and Ms Hall was receptive to the ideas presented by the convoy and especially the idea strategizing for a viable plan to pull the troops out. Since the meeting the group has been discussing why a plan is necessary to pull the troops out of Iraq now. The idea has been questioned and brainstormed.
Lon Burnham and Eric Folkerth MC'ed the main event, which was a rally with the aforementioned bussers, joined by Beatriz Sandaval and her brother in law. A Q&A followed the rally, with everything wrapping up at about 9:30. Approximately 150 people were in attendance. Lon Burnham encouraged all present to write letters to their Congress people, stay involved, and go to Washington DC on the 24th.
The reception was incredibly warm from the Dallas Peace Center and the Church. The local people were hospitable and the bussers were given hot showers, beverages, and many thanks for the work they are doing with this journey to DC. Many of us had not slept in a bed for many days or weeks, and the amenities offered were appreciated and given to us with big smiles and hugs.
Stop 2: Little Rock - Sept 1
The Central Bus arrived in Little Rock at about 5:30 PM at the First Presbyterian Church for a 6PM potluck dinner and discussion with what turned out to be about 100 people. We were greeted by Katie Elliot, the host from the Church, and CBS Local KTHV Channel 11, which filmed the bus pulling into the Church parking lot with the banners on the sides and the passengers cheering and flashing peace signs. There was an abundance of food, which was consumed while the speakers were behind the podium, and no MC. The audience was obviously well informed and moved by the speakers.
The audience was multigenerational, receptive and sympathetic to the message of the convoy. The questions were coming from people who were clearly well informed in public policy. The Q and A was less structured the previous evening in Dallas, inspiring many tears, rhetorical questions, and calls for action. The crowd was clearly riveted- the Q and A went on for at least as long as the speeches. The whole event ended at about 8:00 PM. This morning the speakers are accompanying the hosts to quick stop visits to local legislative reps with letters written by community members about the situation in New Orleans and it's correlation to the Iraq war.
Stop 3: Memphis, TN - Sept 2
The Central Bus Tour pulled in to the congregational Church in Memphis about ten minutes early (!) at 2:50 PM on Friday September 2, 2005. Parishioners, our host Jacob Flowers, and Sylvester Sartor, a Vietnam Vet greeted us. After some rest and conversation, Hart and Kelissa, accompanied by Jacob, went to the Leon Gray radio show for a live interview and with Beatriz Sandaval joining them from Fort Worth by phone. The show was reminiscent of a liberal Rush Limbaugh show and everyone spoke remarkably well.
The main event took place in the National Civil Rights Museum in the form of a panel presentation followed by a Q & A which carried on until 9PM. Some highlights were a seven year old boy standing up and asking the panel why people have wars, (To which Vince said "profit" quoting a movie) several audience members discussed the New Orleans disaster and its correlation, which sparked an audience member named Time to stand up and announce that he was going to help clean up and would like to be put in touch with Vets for Peace. This was done. Hart told of his conscientious objector status and the process of attaining this and brought the audience to tears. The group stayed in a really cool church, which has made an intentional community on its third floor. We all had our own rooms and some of us went out to local establishments with the local organizers.
Stop 4: St. Louis, MO - Sept 3-4
We reached St Louis at 3:00 in the afternoon for a meeting at the United Methodist Church at 16th and Olive St. There was a good press conference followed by a march to the Soldiers Memorial where we had a vigil. There were gravestones with the names of Iraqis and US soldiers killed on each tombstone. Afterward back at the church a local restaurant catered a dinner for us before a 6:00 PM forum, which lasted about 2 hours. On Sunday we will be participating in some church services... On Monday we will march in the St Louis Labor Day parade!
Stop 1: Oklahoma City, Aug. 31
Dozens of people came out for a very spontaneous and moving rally in Oklahoma City, OK on August 31st. This was the first stop for the northern routes of the Bring Them Home Now bus tour. Cody Camacho of Iraq Vets Against the War, Tammara Rosenleaf of Military Families Speak Out and Elliot Adams and Patrick Miller both of Veterans for Peace spokes to the enthusiastic crowd including a number of press from local outlets and the Associated Press. Before setting out to their next stop the tour participants were treated to dinner by the Oklahoma City Peace House.
Stop 2: Wichita, Aug. 31
The Bring Them Home Now Tour made its second stop in Wichita, Kansas. Despite the tour arriving at a late hour there was a sizable group to meet the group. Participants in the bus tour reunited with Wichita residents who were present at Camp Casey in Crawford, Texas. In Wichita all took part in a press conference answering questions about their time in Crawford and presented their stories as Military Families, Veterans, and Gold Star Families. Tour participants stayed the night at the Wichita Peace House.
Stop 3: Kansas City, Sept 1
The local American Friends Service Committee and the All Souls Unitarian Church hosted a potluck dinner for the tour. A couple dozen people from the community came to share a meal with the bus. But do to a late departure from Wichita the bus didn't make it to the potluck. At 5:00pm people began to gather for a rally at J.C. Nichols Fountain in downtown Kansas City. About 100 people came out and displayed signs and banners as well as photos of soldiers killed in Iraq. In front of a big banner that read, "Bring them Home Now" was a podium where some local organizers began the rally. At about 5:15 the bus rolled in and passed the rally honking loudly. The crowd cheered and waived. Cody from Iraq Vets Against the War and Tammara Rosenleaf from Military Families Speak Out both addressed the crowds and took questions. The people of Kansas City were very generous and kind with words and donations. After the rally the bus did make it to the Unitarian Church for food and good conversation. Two reporters from the local paper, the Kansas City Star came to cover the event and chat with the tour participants.
Stop 4: Des Moines, Sept 2
We had a "mini Camp Casey" at Nollen Plaza in downtown Des Moines that started at 10am. Right then we also had a scheduled visit to two Representatives offices. Back at the camp the local ASFC office set up the boots and large pictures of the soldiers from Iowa who have died in Iraq. At 11am had a press conference, which turned into a spirited rally.
Stop 5: Minneapolis, Sept 2-4
We had a reception on Friday night with 100 people supporters that made some very generous donations to support the tour. There was lots of good energy and everyone did a great job speaking.
On Sat. morning 9/3, there was a rally held on the steps of the Minnesota State capitol in St. Paul. Local organizers strung banners along the railings going up the granite stairs with the names of US soldiers killed in Iraq. When the Tour arrived people laid out the boots and some of the banners from Camp Casey in Crawford. The event M.C. was Barry Reich, a local Minneapolis Veteran for Peace. Tammera, Cody, Patrick, Al, Rafael, Sherry, and Stacy all spoke as did David Foster Regional director of the United Steel Workers (who turned out in force not only to rally but to volunteer and offer support), State Senator Becky Lourey and retired FBI counter-terrorism agent Colen Rowley, John Varone the President of the Minnesota chapter 27 of Veterans for Peace. There was supposed to be a counter demonstration but it never really materialized. There were about 150 people in the crowd, lots of chanting and high energy.