Joan Baez performing at war protest near Bush ranch
CRAWFORD, Texas -- Iraq war protesters camping out near President Bush's ranch got some support Sunday night from a prominent figure in the anti-Vietnam war movement: folk singer Joan Baez.
"In the first march I went to [opposing Vietnam] there were 10 of us. This is huge," Baez told relatives of fallen U.S. soldiers Sunday before performing a free concert just up the road from the ranch.
About 500 people gathered to hear her on a 1-acre lot offered by a landowner who opposes the war. Not far away, protesters continued a camp-out started by grieving mother Cindy Sheehan.
Baez said a movement like this was waiting to happen.
"It was the final tear for the overflow and you can't stop running water," she said. "Cindy's was the final tear."
Downtown, more Bush supporters arrived at a pro-Bush camp that had been set up as a reaction to Sheehan's. As of Sunday afternoon, more than 150 people had visited the large tent with "God Bless Our President!" and "God Bless Our Troops" banners and a life-size cardboard cutout of Bush.
"When we saw this, we said, 'Thank God you're here'," said Frances Lee, who arrived in Crawford with her Douglasville, Ga., neighbor Brenda Bohanan. They planned to hold pro-Bush banners down the street from the protesters.
"We said, 'We wanted y'all to know that there are people from all over the United States that care'," Lee said.
The pro-Bush camp is called "Fort Qualls," for Marine Lance Cpl. Louis Wayne Qualls, 20, killed in Fallujah last fall. His father, Gary Qualls of Temple, said the anti-war demonstrators are being disrespectful to soldiers.
Sheehan's 24-year-old son, Army Spc. Casey Sheehan, also died last year in Iraq. He is among more than 1,800 U.S. soldiers killed since the March 2003 invasion.
Sheehan, of Vacaville, Calif., started the anti-war demonstration on Aug. 6 and vowed to remain until Bush agreed to meet with her or until his monthlong vacation ends Sept. 3. She flew to Los Angeles last week after her 74-year-old mother had a stroke but is expected to return to Texas in a few days.
Bush has said he sympathizes with Sheehan but won't change his schedule to meet with her. She and other families met with Bush about two months after Casey died, before she became a vocal opponent of the war.
In addition to the "Fort Qualls" camp, a few Bush supporters have stood with signs in the ditch across from the demonstrators' camp. Down the street, another group of about a dozen set up tents and pro-Bush signs on private property over the weekend.