News from Camp Crawford

A long-time Oly resident, T.R. is in Camp Crawford and has given permission to post the emails she sends out to friends. This is her latest. ---------------------------------------------------

hi folks,

well, as you might expect, every day contains some unexpected challenges here at the crawford peace camp.

last night we had gotten through a fairly calm day after the very busy weekend we had. we likely had about 300 visitors to the camp and 50 of us regular campers. cindy did a few interviews, we all did a few interviews, some days i do as many as 40. we had a press conference for the national media, then things were winding down.

a bunch of us were sitting on the edge of the main camp road, looking out into the triangle where we are not allowed to be, talking and telling the highlights of the day. a young reporter from the local station #25 thought to get himself a report that no one else had done, by coming to see what we do after the sun goes down. he was setting up his cameras and stuff while we sat and visited.

we joked about doing some of the cadence we have learned from some the vets for peace and were practicing.

"Bush and Cheney talk war talk
But we know they're chicken hawks
When they talk it's awful windy
But they're afraid to talk to Cindy"

"Hey Hey Uncle Sam,
We remember Vietnam
They wave their flags when you attack
When you come home they turn their back"

As we were practicing, a truck came from the left side of the triangle, from the direction of the bush ranch and as it passed the far end of the triangle from us, it slowed down, and then jerked to the right. To our horror, it went into the ditch where the crosses were so carefully place, gunned the engine and proceed down the ditch, with the sickening sound of dragging metal. We flew out of our chairs at a run, organizing on the way. I had the job of calling 911, while the other mfso member on watch called the crawford peace house to alert the organizers who were there in a meeting to come to the camp.

when we reached the crosses out hearts were as broken as the crosses strewn in the ditch. the beautiful flower arrangements sent by grieving families, friends, and strangers, lay crushed, the flags placed by the counter protesters broken and stained with mud. the paper slips with the names of the soldiers were torn and covered with mud. we were devastated. tears in everyone's eyes we did what we had to do, protecting the site, allowing the young reporter to film his live program, but instead of seeing us coming together in peaceful solidarity, he caught our tear stained faces, hurried cell conversations with organizers on the way, and the sheriffs dispatch. the young man had scooped the national press on today's biggest story. but little of that mattered to us as the gold star families looked at the mess, the military families with a loved one in Iraq or going there thinking about the sacrifice the country expects of us, and this as the reward our precious family members might expect.

after our first shock we were tempted to try to repair it just then, but instead we had to wait the time for the organizers to arrive back, the sheriffs to arrive. Kathleen, the woman from the Arlington west project running down the road before the vehicle she was riding in even came to a complete stop. Kathleen counted 506 of the crosses damaged or destroyed. the sheriffs arrived with the news that they had taken so long to get to us (an hour) because when they got my call, they determined that they could catch the perpetrator as there was no way off the road and at the time of the call, one of the sheriffs was behind him and one could get in front on the same road.

as stupid behavior would have it, the man had flattened his tires on the metal stakes that hold the crosses steady in the ground and was in a driveway, jacking up his truck to change it when the sheriffs came upon him. not only did his vehicle match the description we could give from our dark look (light color, full size) he had a cross wedged up under the under carriage of the truck. needless to say, he was taken to jail, truck towed away, then the sheriff came back to let us know. he took pictures, but told us we must leave the devastating mess until the next day when the sheriffs could get better pictures. we were happy to know he had been caught, but still, our hearts were heavy. we stayed up until 2:30 talking, drifting off after that to our beds.

in the harsh light of day, the mess seemed even worse, we could see splintered, twisted wood, torn flags, broken glass vases. the sheriff came and took pictures. a local woman came and began putting up the crosses, telling us that she would not allow us to get more media than we already had about this. we called our attorney, and asked the sheriff to stop her. our Iraqi vets against the war came out to the camp from the peace house and their faces were tight with the effort not to cry. one in particular went to work setting those crosses that could be righted up, pulling the damaged name labels off, and stacking them to the side. the crosses that were broken were piled together, and went back to camp. screwdrivers took them apart and some of us put together new crosses out of the damaged ones. a carpenter from town came with crosses he has been making to give to crawford after the california ones go home. the ivaw vets redid all the name papers with supplies that were delivered from the peace house. the new crosses needed paint and our folks set to work to paint them. by the time of our 10:30 press conference several press had been out to film our work, and we had put the display to rights as best as we could. our iraqi vets and cindy spoke at the event, with all of us behind them. several of us did interviews with local or traveling press.

and the day went on... many visitors, many people sad about the crosses and the damage, but glad to visit, see our camp, sign our guest book, put their city on our big map. (by the way, we need visitors from north dakota, south dakota, utah, idaho, wyoming and nevada--- if you know folks there, tell them to get on the way!) the visitors with the award for farthest away came from scotland. they were in the u.s. but not planning to come to texas, but.... well... they did.

we continue to have excellent rapport with the sheriffs. we remain ourselves, them, and all visitors that we are a community of peace. we have many little problems, parking, need to move tents, take care of food, pick up trash, find stuff, reorganize almost constantly, but we are determined to do it all with peace in our hearts.

the counter demonstrators are few. they don't seem to know that they need water. they don't bring shade. they need to use our portapottys. we give them some water, we let them use the facilities, but we do not offer shade. they go away after a bit.

we are planning music for the weekend, some of it to be very good... at the land down the road. more on that later.

please plan to attend the national rally if you can- september 24-26

again... please send funds, support, letters, to crawford peace house. pressure your senators and congress people to come out to visit, or to urge bush to listen to the advisors he has camped on his doorstep.

we are tired in body, but not in spirit. we are fine, drinking much water and gatorade, eating luna bars and nuts. a guy brought us real barbeque chicken and the people from peta make us garden burgers and riblets often, some people brought cindy some good vegetarian food from somewhere today.

we are well. send prayers, send bodies, send support. we are happy to hear about your vigils. we heard 970 of them so far today. we heard camp satellelites are springing up in places where people can not come to us.

well folks... this is long and my time for computer stuff is coming to end. i need to get going.


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