By Barb Ickes
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 won't know until she gets there today how many other mothers from across the country have made the same trek to Crawford. Chances are good there will be dozens — driven to cross the countryside like so many firefighters were driven to reach New York City after 9/11.
They are going to show their support for and like-mindedness with Cindy Sheehan, a woman whose son was killed in Baghdad last year. Sheehan blames the president for sending her son to war in Iraq. She has vowed to remain outside the ranch until Bush agrees to talk with her or until his summer ranch vacation is over.
"If he'd be willing to go out and take the flak from this one mother, it probably would have dissipated by now," Unsicker said of the mother-president standoff. "But he won't do that."
The Bush administration has said the president already met with Sheehan and offered his condolences. But she remembers it differently and has been critical of his conduct during the meeting. Now she wants an explanation.
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."
It's also important to Unsicker that she gets to Crawford as quickly as she can. Several news agencies have reported a threat by the Bush administration to have Sheehan arrested today if she doesn't leave the ranch area.
"If he really does put her in jail, it'll be nuts," Unsicker said. "Imagine. The leader of the free world arresting a bunch of moms. How ludicrous."
No one knows for sure how many mothers (or fathers, for that matter) will show up in Crawford, but Unsicker talked by cell phone with several who were headed that way. She also managed to get Sheehan's cell number and gave her a call.
"She sounded really lonely and vulnerable," she said. "I hope moms from all over the country are there when I get there.
"My God, this woman lost her son for this war," she said. "I don't even want to think of that.
"I can't imagine it."
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