Take the example of Katie Sterling of Fort Worth and her traveling companion Pam Humphrey of Burleson, Texas. In the sweltering afternoon heat across Cedar Rock Parkway from the Crawford Peace House, they were tending to a field of 40 cars parked in neat rows, talking with big smiles about last night's sleepover in the network of bar ditches that has become Camp Casey. "We planned to stay in Waco with relatives, but we couldn't leave, so we slept in a ditch and it was great!" And why couldn't they leave? Because they were having too much fun.
Humphrey has kicked around North Texas as a journalist and activist, but these are hard times in hard country and she had to let the journalist part go. The activism part is dedicated to a group called the Smarty Pants Liberals, who have made a project out of liberating the local Congressman, Democrat Chet Edwards, so he can vote less Bush-like. They were happy to see him vote against CAFTA, but would like to see less capitulation to the Patriot Act or the war agenda, two issues that Cindy Sheehan has dragged into the district behind her. The Smarty Pants met with Edwards this week, says Thompson. Although Cindy isn't in town, the effects of the movement might help move a Bush country Congressman, we'll see. Humphrey also organized a local vigil in Cleburne, outside the Edwards office, one of hundreds of local vigils held in solidarity with Cindy across the nation Wednesday night.
Or take the example of Dominic Stewart Guido of Ithaca, New York. He was born on the ninth of July, which makes him eligible to run for president in 2040.
His mother Lisa is on maternity leave and could think of no better place to lounge around relaxing. "What better place is there for mothers and children than here?" asks Lisa as she points out Dominic's older brother who in turn has found a playmate nearly his age, a little girl with streaks of body paint in black and white. Lisa and her partner Audrey have planned a full week here, and they are happy to be part of this.
To this little cluster of moms and kids, New Mexico poet Rick Burnley offers one of his anti-war poems that begins with the words "Georgie Porgie." He has several of these poems that he's been reciting at least since Feb. 2003, back when the peace movement first peaked before the Iraq war. And he is a preservationist noted for finding ways to keep developers from exploiting areas of his hometown, Placitas
where coyote, bear, and deer drink from a creek, and great horned owls and bald eagles soar overhead."
Some time later, as I'm resting near Rick under the lush but narrow Camp Casey windbreak, he tells me how much he enjoys this green, cool space. It's not quite what he expected to find.
No doubt Camp Casey has its focus in the illegal war on Iraq and the premeditated murders of men who have been killed in a lie, but when people like Pam, Lisa and Rick are drawn together, they bring with them shade and steady breezes for broader cultural refreshment. Time and again, people from so many places are finding each other in a long lost community. How can so many people from so far away find themselves so much in the same place?
"It's like the hundredth monkey," says a schoolteacher from Madison, Wisconsin as we ride a packed van out to camp from the Peace House. She is referring to a popular theory of social intelligence that says when a certain number of individuals adopt a new behavior, it mysteriously becomes a social change. "Cindy was the hundredth monkey." Once she stood up, it was time for everyone to stand. Folks in the van are nodding. I count four women and four men, all of them including me appear to be eligible for senior discounts.
Somtimes those first hundred monkeys take their damn time.
On this trip out, I notice something different as we pass the millionaire ranch that drew so much attention last week. Beginning about there, I notice that an American flag has been hung along with a sign. Then two SUVs pass in the oncoming lane with double flags attached to windows. It is time for our driver to point something out. "We have some counter-demonstrators out here. Dozens of vehicles involved. If they attempt to draw you into a confrontation, don't go there. Don't laugh at them.
Don't point a finger at them. Don't flip a finger at them. And remember this triangle of grass belongs to the woman building that big house over there and she doesn't want anybody on it, so stay off the triangle."
Although Cindy is not at Camp Casey, familiar signs of leadership persist. Lisa Fithian and Jodie Evans are holding an open meeting in full sunshine, which is about as high level as you can get out here when Cindy's not around. Folks just let them do their business, keeping a respectful distance. In a pair of shaded chairs, Annie and Buddy Spell chat quietly with an empty chair nearby for anyone who needs it. And that colorful guy who fired the shotgun last week was right, this is a battle of port-o-potties. Last week Camp Casey got one ("the victory of the week," says Buddy, giving all credit to Austin attorney Jim Harrington). This week there are five.
Interspersed between the Texas cars that line both sides of the parking area along County Route 450A (the brand new mapquest name for Morgan Road) one finds license plates from Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, Arizona, California, Iowa, Indiana, Maryland, and New York. Already there are bumper stickers that say "We Support Cindy Sheehan." Up through the vacant road comes a woman with bullhorn asking: "is there anyone with a medical background?" Are you a doctor she asks a guy walking next to me. Thanks for the compliment he answers, but no.
One right after the other I see two t-shirts dedicated to soldiers named Torres, but it turns out they are two quite different stories. Sgt. Daniel
Torres was killed on Feb. 4 this year by a roadside bomb in Iraq, one week after finding out that his
partner was pregnant with his child. "He had a hunch
it would happen," said his father Sergio, who lives in Ft Worth. "When he came to visit us in December, he told us he didn 't know if he would return. "
Army Spec. John M. (Juan) Torres was found dead on July 12, 2004 in a latrine in Afghanistan. Neither his family nor buddies believe the Army report that says he killed himself. He was due to come home in two weeks. When the People's Weekly World saw the Chicago father of the dead soldier carrying a protest sign about his son's death, they followed up with a story
in February. Today the elder Torres carries the same
sign: John M. Torres, murdered by CID in Afghanistan.
The mystery is a reminder that opium and heroin are primary exports of the region in which Torres died by gunshot.
"Bush Lies," says a sign propped along Morgan Road.
"Why does the media scrutinize the grieving mother and ignore the president's lies." That's a pretty fair question for just about every example of media I can think of except for Amy Goodman who is standing nearby. "Meet the new Army of One" says a sign with a face of Cindy Sheehan, but here today is the network of one standing around in her default black jogging suit, a long distance runner if ever there was.
AM 1360 KLSD, San Diego's Progressive Talk is just wrapping up its West Coast morning show, broadcasting live from Camp Casey, just as Amy Goodman had earlier broadcast live to her East Coast audience with the morning sun still low. And I'm beginning to notice among reporters on the scene today, laminated tags with White House logos on them. The presidential press corps, too? Talk about both sides of a see saw.