August 7, 2005
Photos of the activities are at the bottom of this page, plus an update about tonight (Aug. 6) and a message from Cindy Sheehan to George W. Bush.
The Lone Star Iconoclast is covering Saturday's journey to Crawford by several groups, including Veterans For Peace, Military Families Speak Out, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Code Pink, Crawford Peace House, and others.
Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq last year, is seeking a meeting with President Bush, who is vacationing in Crawford, to have some of her questions answered about the war. Several busloads of interested individuals are expected in Crawford to support her cause. Sheehan has said that she is willing to camp out in Crawford until she gets to meet with the President.
Iconoclast reporter Nathan Diebenow is on the scene and will be dispatching reports during the day. As they come in they will be reported here:
11:30 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 6
Hirosima survivor Dr. Satoru Konishi spoke at the Crawford Peace House this morning, along with Paul Ritthaler, a retired United States marine captured in World War II by the Japanese and interred at a prison camp about 75 miles from Hiroshima. Ritthaler was there when the bomb was dropped near the end of World War II.
About a dozen people were on hand to hear the talks.
Konishi said he wants the government of Japan to give money to the Japanese victims of the bombing because for a long time the Japanese government did not acknowledge that the radiation had an effect on the people of the areas of Nagasaki and Hiroshima. He expressed no ill will toward the people of the United States. He said he wants the ban of all nuclear weapons.
The Veterans Administration admitted last year that the radiation was the cause of illnesses among those interred there, said Betty Ritthaler, the wife of Paul.
Ritthaler said in a written statement, "Our government is the worst country in the world at getting into wars. Our foreign policy stinks and we need to quit getting into wars."
Betty, said, "Let's don't never do that again to the human race."
It appears that Cindy Sheehan's entourage has just arrived in Crawford (11:35 a.m.). More later.
12:40 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 6
When Cindy Sheehan got off her bus in Crawford around 11:40 a.m. coming from the Veterans for Peace convention in Irving (near Dallas), she was greeted with applause and swarmed by reporters. Some of the media covering the event, along with The Iconoclast, were ABC, CNN, CBS, NBC and AFP (Agency France Press).
A veteran of World War II, Archie Goodwin from South Florida, carrying a sign, commented that he is for peace, "but Bush isn't." His sign reads "Somebody lied."
Currently, a bus provided by Veterans for Peace is taking about a dozen members, including Cindy Sheehan, to the checkpoint in front of President Bush's ranch. Sheriff's Department Captain Kenneth Vanek said prior to departing to lead the caravan, "As long as y'all work with us, we'll work with y'all."
Following the bus is a train of automobiles, numbering over 15.
Sheehan said she is prepared to go to jail if necesssary, but is expecting a peaceful confrontation.
The McLennan County Sheriff's Department is acting as the escort to the checkpoint.
With the arrival of Sheehan's bus, there were at least 50 people present, from Code Pink Austin, Veterans for Peace, Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Iraqi Veterans Against the War, and Gold Star Families for Peace, which is Sheehan's group.
Among those present, rumors of pro-war anti-protest protestors perhaps arriving later were voiced.
In all, about a dozen law enforcement officers were on the scene near the Peace House. No Secret Service personnel had been identified. More later.
1:10 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 6
We've got about 50-something people walking on the side of the road, in a ditch, all the way up the mile to the Bush ranch. At the first checkpoint, the police ordered them to not walk on the roadway, but in the medium-tall grass along the right side of the road where it is about 10 ft. wide in places, three feet deep in some places. They are kind of straddling the roadway.
There appears to be another checkpoint up ahead, with another car in the middle of the road.
Now two big white dogs are coming out to greet them along the fence. I don't know what kind of dogs they are, but they seem to be friendly. Some rancher's probably.
It's really hot, humid, with people sweating.
Wait. Call you back in a minute.
1:15 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 6
We are at the second checkpoint and the sheriff's department has told the protestors to get off the road. They've been walking on the road, breaking their part of the bargain, the police say.
Some of Cindy's group are now sitting, waiting for Bush to come out. Now more are sitting down.
One Veterans for Peace protestor asked police officers for water because it's a hundred degrees.
Now the protestors are reciting The Lord's Prayer in unison.
Now Cindy Sheehan is shouting that Bush's mother ought to be ashamed of him. She's proud of her child who died in Iraq.
I now see Secret Service out here.
Protestors are saying that one of their rationales for not getting off the road was that the media was on the road. A police officer said that the media was just following the protestors, but the media is still on the road, with cameras, booms, microphones.
Some protestors are still sitting, but more are now standing.
They are now chanting "No Justice, No Peace." "George Bush is a war criminal." "Downing Street memos prove it." "Billion dollars a week for war."
Chanting again, people on left saying "Had enough," people on right saying "Stop the war," going back and forth.
Police are now telling the media to get on the other side of the road and to not disrupt traffic.
Chanting is still going on (time 1:20).
2:10 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 6
At the first checkpoint, Sheehan told Officer Vanek: "We don't have the quarrel with you. The quarrel we have is with the President."
At the second checkpoint, she said, "I didn't come all the way from California to stand here in a ditch."
An officer offered to send Bush a letter or a statement from Cindy Sheehan, but she said she didn't want to do that.
Her reply was that they were making the mother of a veteran of the Iraq war walk in a ditch.
Protestors are carrying signs that read "No more blood for oil," "Support our troops, bring them home now," and "Frodo failed. Bush has the ring."
It is extremely hot. People are starting to get dehydrated.
Sheehan is moving toward the ranch at the second checkpoint and says, "In the name of 1,828 soldiers that should be alive, I'm going to go see the President. He killed my son."
An officer got in her face, stopping her.
The crowd starts chanting, "W. killed her son. W. killed her son."
Bush has not come out, none of those anti-protest protestors either.
Hadi Jawad, a board member of the Crawford Peace House, shouts to the media: "Do your job. Ask about the Downing Street Memo."
After sitting in the heat waiting to interview Cindy, most members of the press start to leave. Now protestors start to leave. One says, "I guess we ought to go." It appears that the initial protest is over.
Sheehan says she is going to stay at the checkpoint. Others are bringing water to her. The idea seems to be that she intends to camp out here, but I am unsure at this point whether the authorities will allow it. The others are going back to the Peace House to regroup.
Cindy Sheehan said after the media had left, "This is the beginning of the end of the occupation of Iraq." A wild round of applause followed.
Currently, the Secret Service and the police are just hanging around. The area is beginning to look deserted except for Cindy and her small group.
3:10 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 6
The police are giving Cindy a hard time because they won't let her set up a tent by the side of the road.
This will probably be the last dispatch for awhile.
7:15 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 6
Iconoclast publisher W. Leon Smith visited with Cindy Sheehan just a few minutes ago. She was cooling off at The Peace House in Crawford.
Sheehan said she intends to continue to attempt to gain an audience with President Bush and will go back to the checkpoint tonight, where she will camp beside the road.
Sheehan commented that a brainstorm of an idea she had Wednesday has snowballed into this, with support from all over the country.
"I'm filled with hope now, too, that we might be able to turn things around," she said.
Earlier in the afternoon, after most of the individuals departed the second checkpoint, Sheehan says she was greeted with representatives from the Western White House who offered to take a message to President Bush. She says she told them her concerns, but that she was there to speak directly to the President.
In a message through The Iconoclast to the President she said, "George Bush, if you really care about me why aren't you meeting with me?"
Sheehan noted that additional support is on its way from throughout the country as she continues her efforts, which will include a candlelight vigil. Caravans from Louisiana and San Diego are on the way, to name a couple, she said.
PHOTOS FROM TODAY'S ACTIVITIES IN CRAWFORD
Nathan Diebenow, photographer
Hiroshima bomb survivor Dr. Satoru Konishi spoke on the 60th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing about the horrors of nuclear weapons at the Crawford Peace House...
... along with another Hiroshima bomb survivor Paul Ritthaler (left), who was a U.S. Marine interred in a prison camp 75 miles from Hiroshima's ground zero. Ritthaler was accompanied last Saturday by his wife, Betty.
Iraq Veterans Against War turned out in support of Cindy Sheehan in Crawford.
Cindy Sheehan and Dr. Satoru Konishi met at the Crawford Peace House on the 60th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima, Japan.
Cindy Sheehan, co-founder of Gold Star Families for Peace, holds two photos of her late son, Casey Sheehan, 24, of Vacaville,California. Sheehan died in Baghdad, Iraq, when his unit was attacked with rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fire. He was assigned to 1st Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment,1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas. He died on April 4, 2004. ( www.fallenheroesmemorial.com/ oif/profiles/sheehancasey.html )
World War II Veteran Archie Goodwin of Coral Gables, Florida holds up a sign at the Crawford Peace House while Cindy Sheehan, co-founder of Gold Star Families for Peace, meets with reporters.
Cindy Sheehan, co-founder of Gold Star Families for Peace and mother of U.S. soldier who was slain in Iraq, called for President Bush on Saturday, Aug. 6, to return all troops in Iraq to the United States immediately. Although she failed to meet with Bush face-to-face at his Crawford-area ranch,Sheehan did speak with two of the president's aides. She still vowed to remain in Crawford to meet with the President.
Captain Kenneth Vanek of the McLennan County Sheriff's Deparement agreed to work with the members of Cindy Sheehan and her group of supporters last Saturday as they made their way to President Bush's Prairie Chapel ranch; however, their deal broke about four miles from the ranch when the group walked on the road, not the ditch, as they were told to do to allow for traffic flow, according to the officers.
Two supporters of Cindy Sheehan display their ideas of the war in Iraq last Saturday after the Veterans for Peace convention in Irving, Texas.
Reporters last Saturday follow Cindy Sheehan and her supporters to Bush's ranch after the McLennan County Sheriff's Department ordered the group to walk on the grassy shoulder, not the roadway.
Cindy Sheehan and her relatives, Dede Miller and Amy Ranham, walk at the head of the group to a checkpoint near President Bush's Ranch.
Four miles from Bush's Ranch, the supporters of Cindy Sheehan,co-founder of Gold Star Families for Peace, stopped because the McLennan County Sherriff's Department said the group had disobeyed orders by walking on the roadway, not the grassy shoulder. Supporters included members of Veterans for Peace, Gold Star Families for Peace, Iraq Veterans Against War, Vietnam Veterans Against War, CodePink Austin, and the Crawford Peace House.
Persian Gulf War Veteran Dennis Kyne (center, in camouflage jacket) led Cindy Sheehan's supporters in a chant four miles from President Bush's Prairie Chapen Ranch last Saturday. Kyne, a former battlefield medic, is author of Support The Truth, a book about his experience on the effects of depleted uranium weapons and PB Tablets ( www.denniskyne.com ).
"The media is allowed on the road, so why aren't we?" asked the supporters of Cindy Sheehan stopped four miles from the Bush Ranch, to which the McLennan County Sheriff's Department replied, "Because they were following you."
"In the name of 1,828 soldiers that should be alive, I'm going to see the president," said Cindy Sheehan, co-founder of Gold Star Families for Peace (center, left). "He killed my son." An hour of so later, two of Bush's aides met with her for 45 minutes; however, Sheehan vowed to stay in Crawford Saturday until she met face-to-face with the president.
Editor's Note: Permission is granted to reprint the information and photographs appearing in this feature about Cindy Sheehan's visit to Crawford and activities at The Peace House. Attribution would be appreciated. — W. Leon Smith, publisher, The Lone Star Iconoclast