By Greg Moses
Two weeks ago in Crawford, Texas there was a lonely Peace House with payments to make and not much money in the bank. Today, there is not only a Peace House with enough money in the bank to pay it off, but there are two (count ‘em two!) Camp Caseys that now reach out and around the vacation home of the President of the USA, supporting a peace movement that the mainstream media are having a difficult time hiding.
And where is the money coming from? From the same places the people are coming from who show up to the Peace House every day. From all over the country. And a movement that some thought would die overnight after Cindy Sheehan left town to care for her ailing mother? That movement will surely be swelling to the largest numbers ever Sunday night as confirmation is spreading at the speed of light: Joan Baez is coming!
One of the Peace House organizers, Kay Lucas, speaking from her home in Moody, about 25 miles south of Crawford, says she doesn’t know how many letters her colleague Johnny Wolf picked up at the Dallas Post Office recently, but she does know that when the postal workers there found out that the Crawford Peace House was in the building, they spontaneously came out and applauded. As for what’s going to happen to the Crawford postal workers who sent all those letters back to Dallas, under the excuse that they were not properly addressed, Lucas says she doesn’t know that yet either. But right now she has to get busy finding some ice if you don’t mind, because another hot day is on the way, and they are already out of ice.
But the point of the postal story is that a peace flood is rising among the people of the USA, and it really can’t be stopped. Right now the question is not IF this peace movement is going to stop this war in Iraq. The only question is when. Because new voices are rising every day.
On Saturday Renee Kaplowitz of Austin and her daughter Dominique were in Crawford for a peace pilgrimage. Out at Camp Casey One, the famous bar ditch encampment along Prairie Chapel Road, Dominique strolled the county road hand-in-hand with an even younger girl and handed out folded paper peace cranes from a clear plastic bag. “Would you like a peace crane?” she would ask folks lined up to catch shuttles to Camp Casey Two.
The peace crane tradition among children was started by Sadako Sasaki of Hiroshima who folded them from her hospital bed, because she thought that if she folded 1,000 of them, the gods might release her from atom-bomb-induced leukemia. Since then, the folding of peace cranes has been a way for children to make peace, especially during August, when memories of the atom bombs are memorialized.
Later Saturday, out at Camp Casey Two, Dominique stood with her mother under a white canopy, facing neatly-placed rows of white crosses that glowed under the light of a full moon. With the light of day nearly faded into navy blue, Dominique and Renee stood together as down the tiny country road walked a tall trim soldier, trumpet in hand. The soldier stopped in front of them, raised the horn to his lips and played taps. There was hardly a whisper among the 300 or so witnesses who stood under the crystal clear dusk sky.
And then, for Renee, suddenly, it all came back. “I mean you act as if it’s gone, but it’s just not.” When she was seven years old, explains Renee, her father died. “It never goes away.” Into the clear night air, in answer to the silence of the prairie, Renee started singing. And her voice rang through the night like a trumpet.
“Let there be peace on earth!” To the gathered crowd, Renee’s singing sounded like the next perfect thing. To Cathy Courtney of Houston, Renee’s first line was immediately recognizable as a 1955 hymn by Sy Miller and Jill Jackson. So Cathy joined in. “And let it begin with me.” Together they sang the next line: “Let there be peace on earth, the peace that was meant to be.”
By the time it was over, with the full song sung, and the crowd milling slowly back under the huge tent, Dominque was hugging her mother with both arms, and Renee rested her wet cheek on her daughter’s shoulder.
So if you wonder where the money’s coming from, or the people, or the voices, or the soul of this newfound peace movement out here on the Texas prairie, then look no further than the place where Renee Kaplowitz was standing on Saturday night. Because this story, like Renee’s memory of her father, ain’t never goin’ away.
NOTE: An earlier version of this story assumed that Renee’s father had been killed in war. But that has not been confirmed. The relevant sentence has been revised accordingly.