Tonight, over 264 people in Asheville came together to hold a candlelight vigil to show support for Cindy Sheehan. The main reason Cindy is popular in Asheville is because she came to speak at our Peace Rally last March and she touched a lot of hearts. I first started emailing Cindy sometime last fall. In January, I realized that she would be at the EYES WIDE OPEN exhibit in DC, where I was volunteering to work. That was the first time I got to talk to her in person. She was a terrific speaker, and as she spoke, I struggled to keep the candles going in the cold DC wind. (More on my experiences in DC last January are in my blog.)
I asked Cindy to come to Asheville to speak at our rally, which she gladly did, at her own expense. She had spoken in Fayetteville the day before. As always, she was a great speaker. Some time after that, I looked at Cindy's statements and pictures with her meeting with Bush in June 2004. I asked her about these statements, and the first thing she said was that she was still in shock when that meeting took place. She then said that she went on (after the Bush meeting) to investigate further what was going on in Iraq and how we got into that war in the first place. In short, she educated herself. She saw through all the lies behind this war. That was what inspired her to become an activist. And she is, quite clearly, driven.
It was a great pleasure to go on the radio program Listen To Women with Cindy and two Vets for Peace and two local poets on the evening of the Peace Rally. It was a great program that we did.
I have found over the past year that I do not agree 100% with Cindy's positions. One example of that was when I gave her grief this past June for giving hugs to Representative Walter Jones (R- NC). Jones had changed his position on the war: when it started, he was all for it. Today, he is calling for the US troops to come home. But I was still thinking that Jones was doing this for political expediency, not from a change of heart. One factor that caused me to see him in this light was the fact that he eloquently went on and on about the American losses in this war, while he did not bring up the Iraqi losses, which were far, far worse. Cindy defended him, saying that he had to come farther than she did, but the important thing is that he has awakened to the truth about this war. So, I decided to go meet Representative Walter Jones, and it was claiming that I was a friend of Cindy's that got me in the door. I took along my display boards of Iraqi casualties, which I showed to his staff. I did not see Representative Jones until I returned later to see if Cindy was available to go to lunch with me (she was involved with the media, I think Democracy Now! was doing an interview). Then I got to talk to Jones, and I could tell that he was aware of the price the Iraqi people are paying and aware of the nonsense of this war.
Tonight, we held a "Vigil for Cindy." It was one of 1,700+ rallies across the nation. As people spoke and sang, I did exactly what I did in DC when I listened to Cindy speak: I struggled to keep the candles light. Tonight, it was not a cold wind that blew out the candles, it was instead a soft and gentle summer rain. I find gentle summertime rains to be a blessing and a joy.
They did weaken the paper bags used for the luminaries, however, which caused them to fall over on the flame and then go up in a small, but spectacular fire.
It was cool to watch.