By Greg Moses
When Robert DeLozier saw the story of Cindy Sheehan on television Sunday, he told his spouse right away: “I’m going up there. We have to drop everything and go.” At the Sam’s Club of all places, says Robert, he nearly broke down crying while he was shopping Monday morning thinking about what Sheehan was doing in memory of her son Casey, who was killed in Iraq last April.
“She’s a strong woman,” says Robert via cell phone as he drives back home Monday night. “She feels she has been wronged. She feels her son has been wronged. And she feels like this whole occupation of Iraq is wrong. She is strong and powerful enough to take a stand. When I see it, it just strikes a chord. She’s speaking truth to power. That’s it. David and Goliath.”
Robert hands the phone to spouse Abbe Waldman DeLozier as their car glides up and down the gentle hills of Central Texas. It is just past dark Monday night, but Abbe is lit up with fresh memories of an evening with Sheehan and the brave band of pilgrims who have come from unexpected places. “Hawaii,” says Robert from his seat as Abbe holds the phone.
“Yes, Hawaii, that was one of the places,” says Abbe. “And California. Two young ladies from L.A., another from Pennsylvania.” In all there were about 15 people who gathered at dusk to pow wow some strategy. “They say there are more people in the morning,” says Abbe. This afternoon, an anonymous donor ordered up two or three party trays of sandwiches from the Subway Sandwich Shop in McGregor and had them sent out to feed Sheehan’s camp. Folks are sending flowers and money, too.
Since Abbe has experience with media, she volunteered to help Sheehan sort out her media calls. There were 85 messages on Sheehan’s cell phone. Abbe, with the two young ladies from California who had never done any media work before, copied down the messages, put them on a list, and began returning the calls.
“The two young ladies were very professional,” said Abbe. “They had never done this before, but they were very good.” By the end of the evening, Abbe had made a master schedule for Sheehan so that she could begin to manage the line of media waiting from all over the world.
Returning a call to a radio station in Oregon, Abbe suddenly found herself on the air live during a show in progress with Mike Hoffman, co-founder of Iraq Vets Against the War (IVAW). She said “Hi Mike” but didn’t have much time to chat with a war resister who she had once helped with media relations back in the bad old days when the work was very difficult indeed, not like this where you end up accidentally live on the air, both of you in Oregon!
Abbe doesn’t know much more about the pow wow. An NPR reporter was on hand and the group asked for fifteen minutes of privacy to talk about some serious issues like what they were going to do if the cops showed up and started arresting people. The NPR reporter was gracious enough to give the tribe some space, and Abbe was hospitable enough to walk around with the reporter while the group worked things out. Then the NPR reporter took about 90 minutes of tape from Sheehan and Company which has to be cut down to perfect size by deadline.
Abbe thinks the media are responding to Sheehan because of her strong stand. “I’m not leaving until Bush just simply comes out and talks to me,” says Abbe in a respectful impersonation of Sheehan’s message. “She will not leave until they put her in jail, until she sees the President, or until he leaves Crawford for the summer,” says Abbe. “And she is very intelligent.”
When Robert and Abbe arrived at the camp about 4:00 this afternoon, folks had just moved off a “triangle” of grass at the request of police and were camped down in a “ditch area” with cows and field for as far as the eye could see. Press reports put the group five miles from the President’s ranch, but Jim Harrington of the Texas Civil Rights Project says that if the media get to stand within a half mile of the ranch, so should the protesters. Legal help is another thing people are giving.
Later in the evening black suburbans started whizzing past. A stream of maybe 25, coming down the road, one after the other, about a minute apart, with government tags. Soon after that overhead came the presidential helicopter with a three helicopter escort, buzzing past the camp and over to the Western White House. But the impressive action was down in the ditch among the small band of resolute activists who have flung themselves together for this circle of courage and tears.
“It’s very moving being out there,” says Abbe. “I’m so glad I went.” She’s going to clear her schedule and go back soon. “I’m very emotional, very glad. If I could communicate to you what it’s like to be there. If people could see it and experience it, well then number one…” But Abbe can’t finish the sentence. “I can’t finish the sentence, because I’m crying.”
“Let me just say,” says Abbe Waldman DeLozier through her tears, “that there would be millions out there. Millions.”
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