Sunday, September 11, 2005

Missive from Brother Long Horn

while i was at camp casey my brother surprised me by showing up in the middle of the biggest day at camp. i was so thrilled to see him. didn't get to spend much time with him since we had thousands of visitors that day, but nonetheless, it was wonderful to have family at my side.

when he got back to arlington texas he was moved to write the following in response to what he was seeing in the mainstream texas media:

This last Saturday [8/27/5], I had the opportunity to take a day trip to Crawford to be able to spend some time with people who believe the same way I do. While there, I had a very positive experience; possibly one of the more serene events that I have attended in many years. Then I read your article in your paper on Sunday about the events. I had to make a double take to make sure I was at the same place.

I was on a motorcycle, so as I went through the town of Crawford I was able to both see and hear the goings on. Yes I did hear the arguing, and chanting from both sides. I traveled through the original “Camp Casey”, and again I felt and experienced the anger and taunting from both sides of the road. I myself was verbally assaulted on more than one occasion (for only my appearance, I guess since I was saying nothing). And I was ashamed to see the hostility from the side of my adversaries, but I was more embarrassed to see the same hostility from my allies. I seriously braced myself for a full day of negativity and resentment. Almost turning my bike around and heading back down the peaceful backroads of Central Texas.

When I reached my final destination (the second “Camp Casey”) my skepticism was almost immediately erased. What I soon became a part of was anything but chaotic and hateful. This was an oasis of peace in the middle of a desert of gloom (meant both figuratively and literally). I was immersed into a huge gathering of people of all races, religions, genders, ages, sizes, health abilities, parts of the country (even world) who were fighting the 105 degree heat only to stand up for what they believe in. I talked with people who had put their “normal” lives on hold for a week or more so they could gather there. I saw those same people volunteering to organize the daily runnings. I witnessed people volunteering to stand in the middle of the hot, unshaded road to help direct traffic. I saw people risking their own health concerns walking up and down the area passing out umbrellas to others so they could break the sun. I saw non-trained volunteers rushing to the aid of people who had succumbed to the heat. I saw cases of water bottles being carried across the crowded tent by participants of all sizes so that they could easily be reached. I witnessed people volunteering to stand by the road to hold a 100 ft. long banner, and others taking turns spelling them for 15 or 20 minute “shifts”. Then I also saw people (who were there for the event, not as volunteers or paid organizers) carrying cold water to those who were taking their turns on that banner.

When a large truck pulled into the area to deliver ice, but noticed that they could not get the truck close to the “Kitchen” area, the two deliverers started taking the ice the 200 ft or so through the dirt. Without any prompting or requesting, I witnessed an instant “fire brigade” line form to pass the ice along easily. Then shortly after that, I saw a child of about 11 get on the microphone and request that everyone please help pick up the garbage (eventhough there was very little on the ground) and I witnessed everyone stop what they were doing for a few moments to search the ground around them.

I saw a lady walking over to one of the crosses representing a fallen soldier and straightening it. I saw a lady in tears because she had just talked to “a very nice older gentleman” from the opposite ideological side who said to her “I have to support my president, no matter what he says”. I saw people volunteering their own vehicles and fuel to shuttle people back and forth so they wouldn’t have to walk long distances in the heat. I saw people helping others, sharing stories, hugging strangers. I saw an encampment of at least 2000 (at times as many as possibly 4000) dancing together, eating together, sharing together without one “negative” event. What I saw was true peace.

The article in the paper seemed to point out that there was a lot of behavior that was angry. I admit that I was not at the places that the author described, but I would be willing to bet that many of these type of instances that I saw also occurred at those places as well. If being a part of this event means that I am “Un-American” or a “Bad Person”, as so many of my peers with opposite views have labeled us, I am glad that I am “Bad”. But mostly I am glad that I live in an America that allows us to be so “Un-American”.


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