Friday August 26, 2005
Bus canceled; local residents will drive to Crawford for rally
A caravan of a few vehicles, rather than a chartered bus, will take Brown County residents to a pro-Bush rally in Crawford on Saturday, Brown County Veterans Services Officer Billy Murphey said.
Murphey said Thursday that he had decided to cancel the bus because there weren't enough riders to help defray the $1,300 charter fee. Riders would have been asked to donate $25 each toward the cost.
Murphey, who is helping organize the trip, had made tentative plans to charter the 55-seat bus, but said Wednesday that only seven riders had signed up.
He said he anticipates about a dozen residents will make the trip Saturday in four or five vehicles. Travelers will meet the Brownwood Coliseum at 9 a.m. and leave from there, Murphey said.
The rally will be from 1 to 3 p.m. at the community center in Crawford, Murphey said.
As an anti-war demonstration near President Bush's ranch entered its final week, opposition continued growing Thursday as landowners blanketed their barbed-wire fences with signs reading "This is Bush Country!"
More Bush supporters arrived and pitched tents at the newly dubbed "Camp Reality," located in a ditch across the street from the war protesters' site along the main road leading to the president's ranch.
Counter protests began in the ditch about a week after Cindy Sheehan started camping out Aug. 6, soon after Bush arrived for his month long vacation. She vowed to stay until the end of August unless she could question him about the Iraq war that claimed the life of her 24-year-old son Casey and more than 1,865 other U.S. troops.
Activists and military families were en route to Crawford from California on a tour called "You don't speak for me, Cindy!" The caravan coordinated by Move America Forward plans to hold the pro-Bush rally in town Saturday.
Sheehan said that the group is exercising its free-speech rights, just as she is, but that it should change the tour's name.
"I never, ever got up here and said ... 'I speak for every single military family,' " she said. "But I know I speak for thousands of them. I know we speak for thousands of them, and we want to know what is the noble cause our children died for, what is the noble cause we're still fighting for and dying for."
Sheehan said protesters will pack up the camp Wednesday and embark on a bus tour ending up in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 24 for a massive anti-war march. Then the group will start a 24-hour vigil in the nation's capital.
Bush has said he appreciates Sheehan's right to protest and understands her anguish but will not change his schedule to meet with her. His vacation is scheduled to end Sept. 3.
Sheehan and other grieving families met with Bush about two months after her son died last year, before reports of faulty prewar intelligence surfaced and caused her to become a vocal opponent of the war.
Bush, who has said Sheehan does not represent the views of a lot of families with whom he has met, returned to Texas on Wednesday from a three-day Idaho trip making speeches and meeting with soldiers' relatives.
Some camping with Sheehan said Bush didn't need to leave the state or even stray too far from his ranch to meet with grieving families.
"I flew down to Crawford from California. I made it convenient for him," said Karen Meredith of Mountain View, Calif., whose son Ken Ballard died in Iraq. "If George Bush wants to meet with a group of hand-picked families who share his politics, then he's still in denial."
LINK TO ORIGINAL