On August 3rd, 2005, I was at my home in Vacaville, Ca (still in deep pain from the murder of my son Casey in Iraq) watching some news broadcast or other. Lo and behold, my then-nemesis George W. Bush came on. He was, once again, on vacation at his pig ranch in Crawford, but this day he was somewhere else in Texas. That day, 11 Marines from the same reserve unit in Ohio were killed in the same incident in Iraq. Bush was asked about that and he said, “The families of the fallen can rest assured their loved ones died for a noble cause.”
Of course, since my son Casey had died in the long line of Imperial wars based on lies and for profit, my ears pricked up. George was clearly at a press availability, so I waited for someone from the “press” (really, White House stenographers) to ask him what the “Noble Cause” was, since the mission-lie had already changed several times. Predictably, not one of the stenographers asked George that question.
The very next day, I was scheduled to go to Dallas, Texas to participate in the annual Veterans for Peace convention. At that point, I had a brainstorm: After I give my speech in Dallas at the VFP conference on August 5th, why don’t I drive to Crawford (at that point I didn’t even know where Crawford was in relation to Dallas—Texas is one big-ass state) and try to demand a meeting with George to ask him “What Noble Cause” myself?
On Saturday morning, August 6th, from the VFP convention, we loaded up a bus owned by a member of VFP that had “IMPEACH BUSH” painted in huge letters on its side, and had a caravan of cars follow us to make the approximately three hour drive from Dallas down to Crawford.
Joining me on the bus were members of Vietnam Vets Against the War, Vets for Peace, and Iraq Vets Against the War and another Gold Star Families for Peace (GSFP) who had come up from Houston to support us, Amy Branham. We were giddily apprehensive and we had no idea what to expect. The day before, one of the founders of the Crawford Peace House, Hadi Jawad, had asked me what I had planned to do if Bush refused to meet with me. I answered, “I hadn't thought about that, but I guess I will just sit on the side of the road and refuse to move until he agrees to meet with me.”
I will never forget Hadi's response to me: “Wow, that's an action.” And it did turn out to be quite an “action."
When I look back on that summer, I have many, many, many fond memories. It was the first major post-9/11 “occupy,” after all. People flocked from all over the country (and world) to come to that bump in the road to be in solidarity with us. If they couldn't come, they held rallies and camps in their own neck of the woods. One couple drove down from Wisconsin just to meet me and give us a donation - they turned around and went right back.
There were bad things, though, too: I was either viciously attacked (for example, Glenn Beck called me a “tragedy pimp”) or put on a pedestal (for example, Maureen Dowd wrote in the NY Times that I had the “absolute moral authority.”) Both of these extremes were undeserved. I was simply a mom from California who wanted a simple question answered. I wanted the truth, and here in the US, that is extra-ordinary, but I wasn't an extra-ordinary person.
I hated having my life being put under a microscope, especially when I was going through a separation and eventual divorce at the time, which was a deeply personal thing and never should have been fodder used to demonize me. If every woman going through a divorce was demonized in this country, that would be a profitable industry, wouldn't it?
Since Bush has left office (in the orderly and lawful way, not in handcuffs) and we're almost through with the two-terms of the current War President, I almost feel sorry for Bush. (Almost, I said). Where's the outcry against Obama's wars? The occupy movement did not address these issues. I have tried to hold three protest camps since Obama has been president. Instead of thousands of people, there were tens in attendance.
The current POTUS electoral circus we find ourselves in is interesting only for the fact that this is truly the weirdest election I have ever witnessed in my lifetime. While Donald Trump’s rhetoric is being scrutinized and analyzed, Hillary Clinton’s actual record of support for war, war, and more war, has been sanitized. The “super-star” of 2016, Bernie Sanders, had a very weak foreign policy position, too. This sadly tells me that my fellow Americans' compassion for others is practically non-existent.
I would hate to think the only thing Camp Casey accomplished was getting the left-wing of the war party back in political power. I think we did re-shape the dialogue and perceptions of war. With many vets and other family members joining me that summer, people in the US were seeing, for the first time this generation, active family opposition to the institutions that steal our young people to kill and die in the wars for profit of today's Military Industrial Complex.