The Camp Casey to DC tour is going very well! We have the three RV's that are going from city to city and we are speaking in front of rallies that have hundreds, and sometimes thousands of people attending. We are receiving positive responses from all over America. We have had amazingly little opposition to what we are doing. Today in Raleigh, NC at the University, there were some Young Republicans who support the President and support the war. I tried to get one of the many recruiters who were on campus to go over and sign them up for the service, but they wouldn't even look at me. I think the recruiters missed a golden opportunity to swell the ranks. I have a feeling that the Young killing supporters wouldn't be willing to go over and put their money where their mouths are. One of the fine young American baby chicken hawks told one of the members of our tour whose brother was killed in Iraq that: "someone has to stay in school and employ people." Sounds like the "Dick Cheney" alternative to serving your country to me.
The people who are on the three RV's are true Americans serving their country without reservation. Most of the patriots on the tour have given up their entire months of August to be at Camp Casey in Crawford and now they are giving up their Septembers to be on the bus tour or at Camp Casey III in Covington. If everyone who believes that our country can change from a paradigm of war to one of peace did even did a small fraction of what our Camp Casey loyalists did, this war would be over tomorrow, the troops would be home, and America would be a safe and sane place to live. I honor everyone who works for peace, but especially the people who dropped everything to take back our country and make it a better place to live and raise children.`
In Columbia, SC, yesterday, the Southern Leg of the Bus Tour spoke to a few hundred supporters and 2 counter protestors. One of the counter protestors had a sign that said: "Support the Mission." I invited her to talk to me after the rally to explain to me what this every changing and ephemeral mission is now. She didn't. We all know on August 29th, George said that "we need to stay in Iraq to keep the oil fields from falling into the hands of terrorists." Is that the mission? Are we supporting our troops dying and innocent Iraqi people being killed for oil and greed? This doesn't sound like anything I want to support.
While we are at it, let's talk about the people who held a "We support the troops" rally at the capitol in Raleigh today while we were holding our "We really support the troops" rally in Moore Square. I wonder if the people who say they support the troops by wanting to support more of them being killed realize how ironic they are being. They don't think that it's hypocritical that our troops still don't have proper body armor, proper vehicle armor, proper training, equipment, food, water, competent leadership, support when they return from the battle field, etc? They thinks "Supporting the Troops" is sending them to a mistaken war based on lies to occupy a country that was absolutely no threat to the United States of America. These people equate supporting an evil mission with supporting the troops. I believe that the people on the peace side are the ones who authentically support the troops by wanting them to come home alive. But like one sign said to today: The Peace Symbol is the footprint of the American Chicken. Do they find it ironic that they are protesting a group of people who have served our country in war ( Iraq included), families who have loved ones serving, and families whose brave children have been killed for the deceptions of this criminal administration? Do they find it in the least bit ironic that the people who are sending our lifeblood off to kill and die NEVER served their country in the military and don't have children in the military? They also say "Cindy doesn't speak for me." Phew…I wouldn't even presume to have such a narrow world view and speak for them.
Another thing these pro-war people don't realize is that just like them, we have the right to say what we are saying, we give them their space to do so, we would like the same space from them. Besides, if they think they are going to make us go away by protesting us, they are wrong. The number of pro-war, pro-Bush (sorry for being redundant) people are dwindling in numbers and in intensity. Maybe the crimes that are happening in Iraq have softened their venom? It is one thing for the criminal negligence of George and company to kill innocent Iraqis, but also killing innocent Americans in America? Maybe that's where they draw the line. I hope the line is drawn quickly before George is allowed to harm more of us.
The "Winter Soldiers" who stayed in Crawford to guard the memorial to Casey, Camp Casey, and all of our fallen heroes, have had two very disturbing events happen. In the first incident, the McClennan County Board of Supervisors have banned parking on County roads up to the Bush ranch. But we all remember that the supervisors told us it was "private property" so I don't think they have any authority up Prairie Chapel Road. When we take Camp Casey back from George's home away from his vacations: DC, we were planning on taking Camp Casey there. I hope they don't try to stop us from parking there. If they do, maybe Fred will let us use his land to park, also. Another thing that happened at Camp Casey I was that some "Patriot" stole the memorial. They took everything that honored our children. They stole Casey's boots. What will these people stop at? They are shameless and they have no sense of moral values. They have tried to stop us before by shooting rifles at us, mowing down the crosses, calling us names: but you know what? Nothing will stop us. Check the Lone Star Iconoclast's web site for more info on the vandalism and suppression of our rights going on in Crawford still.
But even with the minor counter-protests, our spirits are high and we are overwhelmed and grateful for all of the support we are getting from the true Americans who come out to help us bring the troops home now!
I received the email below from a Doctor whom I met in Louisiana. I told him I would pass it along:
My name is Stuart Leeds – I'm the family practice MD that you met at the storage facility shortly before we all caravanned to Algiers today.
It was a great honor and delight to meet you! I'm also pleased and somewhat relieved to have the opportunity to give you a *brief* report on the state of affairs visa vi the medical relief effort in the afflicted areas.
In short strokes: people are not getting the help they need, because our government, through the agency of FEMA, has totally politicized the relief effort. I'm sure you've already gotten wind of the reports that the Bush Administration is handing out huge contracts to favored vendors, much as they have done in Iraq. But what is not widely known is – and I can verify this personally -- that FEMA is *preventing* certain groups and individuals from participating in the relief efforts. Here's a quick synopsis of the experience I and my companions (my wife, and two respiratory therapists) had today, in our attempts to offer our services to the Red Cross operation in Covington, LA.
1. We got a call from an official at the Red Cross that the Vets for Peace were being invited to send doctors to Abita Springs, a nearby community.
2. When we got there around 9 AM, some of director Dr Rachel Murphy's assistants welcomed us, and started making lists of materials we would need
3. Suddenly, a man wearing a Homeland Security shirt came over and rudely asked us to leave. He brought a local cop with him, and their body language was pretty threatening. We explained that we were coming at the request of both Dr. Murphy and the mayor of Covington, Candace Watkins. He (whose name was Rodney Hart) would hear none of it from us; he forced us to leave immediately.
4. We went to Mayor Watkins, who called Dr. Murphy and arranged for us to be allowed into the Red Cross center. We decided that only my wife and I would go – realizing that the other gentlemen, who were wearing VFP T-shirts, would be less than welcome at the center.
5. We met Dr. Murphy a little after noon, and she was very friendly. She told us she would find a place for us to work – I as a physician, and my wife as an organizational specialist. However, midway through our tour of the facility, she stepped into the office of Mr. Hart, the Homeland security rep, and there were some tense words exchanged between them. She repeatedly exclaimed that we were not representing VFP, and finally there was a long period of silence. Mr. Hart apparently made some gestures we couldn't see. She sighed, and turned to us, and abruptly suggested we get some lunch in the basement. As we ate, she started talking about how the Red Cross was pulling out of her parish within a week, how there were already an excess of docs, and that our services wouldn't be needed.
6. She also explained that the reason that VFP was not welcome with the Red Cross (or indeed, within the entire parish) was because of a series of allegations that we had already heard from others in the center. We had heard several conflicting versions of these stories: that someone with VFP had stolen $15,000 worth of medical supplies, and that he turned out to be a child molester; that the Vets for Peace had come to one center and were taking over, and bringing cameras into clinics; that VFP was illegally collecting Red Cross donations on the Internet.
We could not substantiate any of these rumors, and indeed, I think it's unlikely that there was truth to any of them.
Clearly, FEMA and/or Homeland Security is trying to keep "political undesirables" from lending a hand during this catastrophe. Perhaps they are marching to orders from Bush's political hacks to preventing peace groups from upstaging the administration in the relief effort – which would hardly be difficult to do, on anything like a level playing field.
It is so sad to think that the Bush machine would put politics in front of the safety and security of human beings, even in a the wake of a natural disaster of Katrina's magnitude. But in the eyes of this physician, I believe that is exactly what is happening. And it will continue, as long as the responsible government agencies can get away with it..
We must hold them accountable. But more importantly, we must let people know this is happening, and thus bring such pressure to bear on these obstructionist agencies that they can no longer keep VFP, or indeed any group of caring citizens from pitching in.
Thanks, Cindy. And keep up the great work.
F.Stuart (Skip) Leeds, MS, MD
I am ready to keep fighting for humanity. I thank you all for joining me in the struggle: the fight of our lives.