PHOTO OF PRESS CONFERENCE: http://tinyurl.com/coayr
Seven military family members and veterans spoke very briefly, then Cindy Sheehan spoke, and then Cindy answered questions from the assembled representatives of our (private) public communications system. The whole thing took 20 minutes. Then it took me 20 minutes to drive back to the Crawford Peace House, another 20 minutes to do an interview for Pacifica Radio about it, and another 20 to 30 minutes to talk to people on the way to my computer, which is the great thing about being in Crawford. So, this live blog is live in a delayed way.
First to speak at the press conference was a woman named Tina (I missed her last name), a veteran of the Iraq War. She spoke in favor of peace and in support of the soldiers and of Cindy's request to meet with Bush.
Next was Willie Adams, a veteran who said, "The best thing we can do for veterans is not make any more."
Then Steve DeFord of Salem, Ore., spoke about his son, who was killed in Iraq.
A woman named Tamarra from Military Families Speak Out said that she was very grateful for Camp Casey because on many military bases there is a culture of silence and fear, and it is difficult for people to speak about the justifications for war (or lack thereof).
Vince George from West Virginia said that his brother is in the National Guard. "Supporting the troops," he said, "means bringing them home safe."
Teresa from Ohio, also with Military Families Speak Out, described her reaction when she saw Bush's slideshow presentation of himself searching for weapons of mass destruction in his office. "As a military family member, I found that insulting," she said.
Jeff Keys, an Iraq War veteran said that military parents see someone die and think "That could have been my child," but that he sees the Gold Star families and thinks "That could be my parents." He said he was here to stand for Cindy. "And, I know that if the roll was reversed, Casey would be standing here for my parents."
Next to speak was Cindy who announced that a bus tour will travel from here to Washington, D.C., leaving here on the 31st and arriving there by September 24, the day of the massive anti-war demonstration. Cindy said that she would be on the bus tour for the first two days, but that after that she had other engagements that had been scheduled before Camp Casey began. But, she said that she would join everyone in DC on the 24th.
Tomorrow, Cindy said, a huge crowd is expected at Camp Casey. And pro-war demonstrators are expected too. Cindy said that she and those with her are not looking for any trouble and are here in peace and are cooperating with the sheriff's department and the Secret Service.
Cindy issued a public invitation for any Gold Star families from the other side to come to a private meeting with her tomorrow evening at 5:30 p.m. CT, "not to debate anything, but to have a dialogue ....We all have the same pain," she said.
When asked what she thought of the counter demonstrators, Cindy said that it was their right to demonstrate. She said that she actually preferred the current situation to the one of apathy that existed some months back. "Those who have been on the fence at least most of us have fallen off on one side. People are putting their money where their mouths are ....Democracy only works if people participate."
Another reporter asked "Do you think the President should be influenced by protests or should make his own judgment."
"No," said Cindy, "I think the President works for us." This remark was followed by laughter and cheers. Cindy went on to point out that polls show a majority of the country agreeing with those at Camp Casey.
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