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Saturday, September 24, 2005

Candle Wax and Nice Weather

Posted by on September 24 at 6:36 AM

Hello from D.C. I am sitting at the epicenter of latte liberal organizing, a Starbucks at the corner of 14th and G Street. The view from here allows me to report with certainty: “Vermont Says No To The War.”

Last night I went to a vigil at the new Camp Casey, set up just across the street from the Washington Monument. The original Camp Casey, close followers of the news will recall, was set up outside president Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas, this summer by Cindy Sheehan, who ignited the movement of anti-war military families now heading up today’s march on the capitol.

I saw Sheehan, whose son Casey was killed in Iraq, last night before the vigil. She was wearing a rainbow tie-died shirt and jean shorts, and is much taller in person than she appears on television. She is also much stronger than she appearsóworkman legs, toned arms, firm jaw. She was being swarmed by people who wanted her picture, or her autograph, and left the camp quickly, perhaps a victim of her new celebrity.

The vigil drew several hundred people and smelled of candle wax and the melting plastic cups that shielded the candle-flames. It also smelled of carnations and roses, which the people at the vigil delivered, in a short procession across the mall, to the Vietnam Memorial. Joan Baez appeared just before the procession began (and just after “Taps” was played by a giant anti-war Marine who would not give his name to the crowd). Baez sang “Amazing Grace,” and then at the Vietnam Memorial she kneeled, pressed her palm and forehead against the wall of names, and perhaps cried. I couldn’t tell for sure. There was a lot of crying, and if the sobs I heard weren’t from Baez, then they were from the giant Marine or the aging Veterans Against the War or the Gold Star moms.

This morning the Metro was filled with people carrying protest signs, and now the city feels as if it is filling up with them too. The weather is perfect for marchingólight cloud cover, light breeze, no blazing sun (yet). How big will it be? We’ll know shortly. I am off to meet up with Lynn Bradach, the Gold Star mom from Protland who I recently profiled in The Stranger, and I’ll return to a wireless connection when possible.