Wednesday, August 17, 2005

A week at Camp Casey, Crawford, Texas; reflections

I'm back home now, after spending a week at Camp Casey in Crawford, Texas. This is first day I've been able to get back to computer. In my 54 years, I have to count this week as one of the most amazing in my cumulative life experiences. I wanted my experience to be as authentic as possible, and I did sleep in a tent in a ditch alongside the road at the encampment site, now called Camp Casey; that triangular piece of land on Prairie Chapel Road. As I catch up with what's already online about Cindy Sheehan, it looks like there has been a good effort to record the day by day events.

I flew down from Washington state to Dallas, Texas on Tuesday, August 9, and arrived at the Crawford Peace House on Wednesday morning, while the Peace House was still in it's pre-Camp Casey state. By the end of the day people from various states were starting to arrive. By the next day the Crawford Peace House was full with swarms of people coming from so many states across the nation, and the rest of the week was a non-stop flurry of activities. I got to witness first hand people of all stripes stepping up to volunteer whatever help they could give, be it donations of supplies, food, water, camp necessities, money and absolutely amazing volunteer services as the needs for Camp Casey grew hourly. The transformation of the Crawford Peace House demonstrated to me the immeasureability of what was going on at Camp Casey.

One of the things that every media person asked me as I did interview after interview, was 'how many people are there'. My answer; at any given time of the day and counting the press? What is happening here is not measured by the number of people at the encampment, it is measured in the spontaneous outpouring of support from people across the cities and states in this nation. It doesn't matter if there are 30 people or hundreds at the encampment, it doesn't begin to be a measure of the support America is giving to Cindy Sheehan as she takes her stand to ask the President .... why? It is a spontaneous and organic growth that was not organized prior to the event and the support that is pouring in comes from the heart of Americans across our nation and countries outside our nation. How can you find a measure for that beyond counting heads for who is at the encampment site? I say to media, you must find a different measure, the head count doesn't begin to express what is emerging with the support coming forth for Cindy and Camp Casey, and Americans from across the states are converging on this movement to express their own hearts. People from other countries are reaching out to support what is symbolized in Cindy's action. Listen to the rythmn, it isn't measured in talking points on either side.

This is America pouring out it's heart to show they do care, and care deeply and transcends anything that resembles a rally, demonstration, protest or whatever other words used to describe a gathering with a pre-organized agenda. Cindy stood as one American citizen, and the consciousness of America reaches out in support of her as America tries to reclaim it's own soul. It doesn't take thousands, it takes each one of us, one by one by one standing on principle and integrity. I found hope this week, hope in America, hope in my fellow citizens, hope for our humanity that goes above and beyond partisan politics.

So many different things struck chords in me and I will be writing on them in the forthcoming days, but I cannot begin to measure the number of people I met who made sure to tell me they were from Texas and came out to show support for the woman, Cindy Sheehan, as a mother of a soldier son killed in action in Iraq and asking the question so many of us ask 'why, why Iraq?'

Indeed the Yellow Rose of Texas was manifest among the hundreds and hundreds of Texans who came to help at Camp Casey and I want to call attention to some very Special Yellow Roses of Texas.

The Biggest Yellow Rose goes to Sgt. John Kolinex, McLennan County Sheriff's Dept. He was a favorite amongst many of us there in that first week. He patiently explainedover and over again to each and every one that asked when we had a new change of rules why and the reasons behind it. He did his job, just as our soldiers do, and he did it with dignity, kept order, and was incredible in how he managed the unfolding events of that first week in Camp Casey on Prairie Chapel Road. Sgt Kolinex; you done your county proud, sir and you done your country proud.

There are a couple of other Yellow Roses of Texas I want to acknowledge; Tim Origer, Veterans for Peace, Texas. He lost his leg in Vietnam and has a prosthetic leg now, and I saw him stand on his two legs in the heat of the sun for the full length of a day helping to direct traffic and make sure the vehicles kept moving to their designated spots, on both sides of the road. This was late into the week when 'guests and visitors' came out to Camp Casey to share a different message and were designated to one side of the road while we already had our designation on the other side of the road.

And a most special thanks to Chito Greer, Veterans for Peace, Texas, who brought me my much needed drugs each morning; benadryl. I was bitten up and down both legs by fire ants the first day I was there and had a Texas size allergic reaction so that both feet and legs were swollen up to monstrous size. I think I've got a much deeper appreciation now for our slugs up here in the Pacific Northwest who eat plants, not people!

There is more to tell, and so many more people to acknowledge and recognize but mostly my reaction to being eyes on the ground as it was unfolding is Thank You America and keep on coming down to Crawford to show support for what Cindy Sheehan has mobilized in the hearts of people everywhere. And if you can't come to Texas, then you can find a Camp Casey somewhere in your own state, as by now at weeks end there are Camp Caseys springing up everywhere. I'm proud to say my home, Washington state, was already on board with Camp Casey by Monday, 2 days after Cindy sat down at her camp. It is time to stand front and center with Cindy and ask 'why Iraq' and bring our troops home, now. It is time to listen to the military community voice that, as Cindy says, 'has skin in the game'.

more later,

Lietta Ruger, proud mother of 2 Iraq Veterans, proud member of Military Families Speak Out and proud of being part of Camp Casey in Crawford, Texas.


Russell said...

I THANK YOU very much for the kind words you have written about people from Texas. Texans are really getting a BAD name because of Bush's stupid war. Again THANK YOU---another Texan living in Arkansas

jon said...

After we paid for our kids outdoor summer camp we found it tough to recover! I totally agree with you!

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