CRAWFORD, TEXAS (UPI)-President George W. Bush has sent Cindy Sheehan a peace offering even though he refuses to meet with the grieving mother and the First Lady who are protesting the US war in Iraq at "Camp Casey," the name given to Sheehan's encampment on the road outside of the Bush 16,000-acre ranch where Sheehan has been holding her defiant vigil for over a week.
The Republican peace offering is a barrel of oil emblazoned with the inscription, "To Cindy from George." The barrel also displays the Masonic Eye of Horus and it is now on display at the Crawford Peace House, a gathering place in the town for thousands of anti-war protesters.
As the legions of protestors converged at the site and at other protest sites across the country, 50 flag-waving marchers brought in by chartered bus by the Texas oil industry found their way to Sheehan's camp to support the war. Yet they are dwarfed by the growing protestors.
"It's an incredible miracle what's going on here," said Bill Mitchell who lost his son Michael in Iraq on April 4, 2004, the very same day that Cindy Sheehan's son Casey was killed.
Ray McGovern, a former intelligence officer and now an antiwar activist, drove down from Virginia to support Sheehan. "I think Cindy has lit a spark where Americans can identify with the human costs of the war," he said.
Lawrence Reuben, a Vietnam veteran and a helicopter technician from Benton, Texas said, "I'm here to support this lady and show there is support for getting out of Iraq and stopping that maniac from doing what he is doing."
At the Crawford Peace House, things were pretty busy. Hundreds of parents of fallen soldiers were explaining to reporters why they sere protesting as volunteers prepared signs, sold T-shirts and buttons and offered food and water to protesters.
Before Sheehan's arrival, the Peace House had only $21 in the bank and its phone was disconnected due to overdue bills. But Sheehan's protest has caused the money to flow in, and it now has a large tent, coolers and a generator. Donations are being sent in by check and others are depositing directly into the group's PayPal account. In one week, the house has amassed enough money to pay off its $240,000 mortgage, and other donations far exceed that sum.
Kay Lucas, the Peace House director, said, "It's a blessing, a miracle. It's like the parable of the loaves and the fishes. The money and the support have all been utterly incredible." The house was established in 2003 but is now a haven where Sheehan and other protesters can rest, shower or take a break from the roadside camp.
After Bush's barrel arrived, Sheehan climbed onto the back of a pickup truck to address her supporters, who applauded enthusiastically.
Her words were uncompromising. "Who knew that the beginning of the end of the occupation of Iraq was going to start in Crawford, Texas last Saturday? Who knew that America would finally stand up and say we're sick and tired of this war? Bring our troops home, not barrels of Iraqi oil for Republican oil companies."