Monday, August 15, 2005

Writings from a New Kind of Base: An Update from Camp Casey
Tim Goodrich
Writings from a New Kind of Base: An Update from Camp Casey

Saturday, August 13, 2005

I can barely see as I type this because I am extremely exhausted. Today was a phenomenal day at Camp Casey. The day started off with a rally near the Crawford Peace House in which members of Military Families Speak Out, Gold Star Families for Peace, Veterans for Peace, and Iraq Veterans Against the War spoke. A crowd of approximately 1,000 attended, shouting and clapping wildly as the speakers took the stage and delivered their message.

After the morning rally, everybody regrouped outside Camp Casey. On their way in, they were greeted by Cindy Sheehan and members of the other groups. While we were greeting the newly arrived, we looked up the road and realized that the line of cars stretched farther than the eye could see and around the corner. It was as if we were looking at a "field of dreams". We later learned that the line stretched for miles. It was a beautiful sight to be seen and it brought tears to the eyes of many.

Throughout the day, more people continued to appear. By the end of the day, several thousand people, including soldiers from Fort Hood, had made their way to Camp Casey to show their support. Many of these visitors stopped to talk to the members of IVAW, thanking them for their service and their stance against the war. While speaking with many of the visitors, I began to see the scope of Camp Casey. In my conversations, I spoke with people from Little Rock, Kansas City, Atlanta, Oklahoma City, and San Diego, just to name a few. As a sign of the growing movement, we've learned that another Camp Casey was set up in Chico, California. As you read this, please think about the power of multiple Camp Caseys being established all across the United States. The power is with the people, and with everybody's help, we will get one step closer to ending the occupation of Iraq.

Friday, August 12, 2005

The heat and humidity are not letting up outside Bush¹s ranch at Camp Casey in Crawford, Texas. Although it's not as hot as, say, Iraq, the heat can still take a toll on those not used to it. Luckily, through the generous outpouring of others from across the country, we have managed to stay well supplied with fluids and food.

Friday was day seven since the establishment of Camp Casey and still no meeting with Bush. I was kept from arriving at camp due to an extended secret service blockade on the only road into the ranch. Apparently, Bush had fundraising activities to attend and drove by the camp for the first time, ignoring all who stood ready to receive him. My question is this: Why is it that those who can afford to donate thousands of dollars to Bush get to meet him?

Meanwhile, Cindy, veterans, and other Gold Star and military families, all of whom have sacrificed tremendously, brave the heat and fire ants waiting for the chance to meet with Bush.

The tensions escalated a bit when rumors circulated that there may be a group of counter-protestors showing up in the late afternoon. True to their word, a group of counter-protestors arrived in the late afternoon on a chartered bus, allegedly paid for by a right-wing Dallas radio DJ. The bus pulled up, unloaded, and the counter-protestors, each armed with a miniature flag, aligned on the side of the road. The local authorities and secret service placed themselves in the middle of the two groups in order to prevent any aggressive acts. To everybody's surprise, after fifteen minutes and callous chants of "I don't care" directed at Cindy, the bus began to load again. A short time later, the fully loaded bus was headed down the road back to Dallas.

Now, in these fifteen minutes, the media was swarming over the newly arrived. Time will tell if they were provided an equal amount of coverage. It would hardly seem fair if this was the case, seeing as the people at Camp Casey are camped out 24 hours a day, seven days a week and not merely making a "media appearance." It seems to me that if these people felt so strongly about the war, they would have stayed longer than fifteen minutes and done more than only talk to the media.

The good news is that Camp Casey continues to grow and our message is resonating around the world. On another positive note, we continue to see other Iraq war veterans come to investigate and meet the people who have traveled from around the country to make their voice heard. In one particular case, a mother and her two sons who had both been to Iraq, came to voice their support for the cause. Amazingly, one of the sons had just returned from Iraq the day before.

So far, all the Iraq war veterans have been very receptive about joining Iraq Veterans Against the War. As the war rages on, we will see more returning disgruntled vets and military families who have suffered the ultimate loss. With continued momentum, we can end the occupation of Iraq before the costs become greater.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Good things come in small packages. Camp Casey in Crawford, Texas may not have the people of a 500,000 strong anti-war march, but it's making at least as powerful a statement. Today was only my first day here outside the ranch, but this has already been one of the most moving events I have attended.

Almost immediately, I recognized the standard tactics of the right wing; deceit and hatred. Upon waking up at the Crawford Peace House, I noticed a news van for the local AM radio station sitting outside. I watched him for a while, but he never bothered to step outside of the van. Later on, I heard the radio station reporting that the people at the Crawford Peace House had chased him away by throwing bottles and rocks at him. This was obviously a lie; designed to paint us, who have gathered peacefully, as militants.

Upon arrival at Camp Casey one of the first new people I met was a Gulf War Marine veteran who now works driving trucks out of Augusta, Georgia. While listening to his satellite radio, he heard about the encampment here in Crawford. Since he was running ahead of schedule and didn't have to be to San Antonio until the next morning, he took a detour to investigate. As a few of us veterans had a good conversation with him, I realized one important thing: He gets it. This former marine was just another of countless veterans across the United States that realize the war in Iraq is a tremendous waste of life and resources.

The weather is very hot and humid here, as evidenced by the few who succumbed to heat stroke. Despite the lack of most creature comforts, the spirit and will of the people here amazes me. In the end the world will know the truth, but in the meantime, I have a request for my former Commander-in-Chief. Come meet with us who served in your imperial war. Come meet with the military families who have loved ones serving in Iraq. Come meet with Cindy and the other Gold Star families. It¹s about time you're honest with the American people.