And with that act she created a spark which quickly became a flame. By the time I arrived at Camp Casey last weekend, it had become a roaring bonfire!
Channeling her grief into activism, Cindy has served to reinvigorate the antiwar movement while also creating a new avenue of expression for the ever growing voices of disillusionment, distress and dissent. For many she has opened a gateway into a broader discussion on the war in Iraq. Contrary to the reporting of most mainstream media, the majority of people who traveled to Crawford during August were not the "left-wing radical fringe ", "anti-war extremists " or "anti-patriots. Most were military families with children currently serving in Iraq or Afghanistan, or families whose children have been killed in this war; parents whose children were lied to by recruiters and again lied to by their government when they were sent to Iraq to fight this war.
In fact, you could pick us out in the crowd because we were the few who knew all the words to the peace songs led by Joan Baez. But we were the minority! I will venture to assume that most of the estimated five thousand people who visited or stayed at Camp Casey during the month of August had never been to an anti-war rally in their lifetime, prior to this.
But for many, their lives have been transformed by this war and their faith in American leadership has been eroded. They came to stand with Cindy and support her message that it is time to end this war and occupation before one more mother 's child is lost. Others came to support these families and the message on a long banner strung along the roadside "Support Our Troops: Bring Them Home Now! "
We have all read the characterizations of this "event "as having "catalyzed ", "galvanized " and "energized " a movement. While true to some extent, Camp Casey was more than that- it was a place of healing, a place of community, a place of strength and courage; a place of intimate connection across generations, lifestyle, geography, language and culture. Something deeply spiritual evolved out there in the middle of endless dry, hot and flat ranch land in this place designated to honor 1880 American children, sacrificed to this war.
Cindy took a stand in the dirt, speaking her truth to power and her message has resonated with millions across the country. Around her grew an anti-war tent city; people responded by traveling from every state in the US, Canada and Europe or by sending over $170,000 to the Crawford Community Peace House which helped coordinate transportation and food and water for the people who came!
The bonfire is now a wildfire which is spreading out across the country. When Camp Casey left Crawford on August 31, 25 military families and vets boarded three buses to begin the "Bring Them Home Tour ", traveling three different routes to visit and speak in 35 cities across the country and meet with Congressional representatives before converging in Washington DC on Sept 24 for the mass antiwar march and rally.
Camp Casey is no longer a physical site but is now a powerful moving force in the call for an end to this war, a return of the troops, and an end to the killing of other mother 's children both American and Iraqi.
By taking a stand in the ditch on a 105 degree day in bush-country, Cindy has become an important instrument of change. She embodies the concept: "never doubt that a small group of committed citizens can change the world- indeed it is the only thing that ever has. "(Margaret Meade)
As Camp Casey folded, Cindy wrote a departing note to her son Casey, after whom the camp was named and it read: "I promise you it won 't end until all of your buddies are brought home. And I promise I will fight for your unborn nieces and nephews and the rest of the worlds children. I love you. "
Cindy 's fight has just begun.
Dickelle Fonda Sugrcreek@aol.com is mother of a 20 year old son, anti-war activist since 1969, psychotherapist, community organizer with Neighbors for Peace in Evanston, Illinois.