Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Bring Them Home Now Tour: Central Route Notes

Indianapolis, Indiana

She's tired folks. Her voice is worn out but she says it's a "good" tired.

Up early this morning to get to Bloomington, Indiana (home of the Indiana University Hoosiers) for a press conference around 11:00.
(I'm not sure when but Lietta says that she gave a brief TV interview as well as a radio interview today in addition to the planned events.)

The Bloomington Press Conference was a room full of reporters at a book store. The group sat as a panel and all answered questions that Lietta says were very good questions. The reporters, though friendly and not hostile, were definitely knowing their business.

The Tour then went to a park in Bloomington where Harat Viges, Tour member from Iraq Veterans Against the War, was the principle speaker sharing his thoughts and experience in Iraq. He's an impressive speaker with a very effective style that seems to connect with listeners.

At a second park with a "Free Speech Zone" members of the group spoke individually and answered questions.

Sometime during the day Lietta says she interviewed with a local DJ named "Amos ???? (she couldn't remember his last name) on a progressive African-American station.

In the evening in Indianapolis there was a candlelight vigil held, I believe, at something called the Quaker Friendship House. The vigil leaders read off the names of the 51 Indiana soldiers who have died and followed the reading of the names with a prayer. They then sang God Bless America and My Country Tis of Thee. The flag was there ... the candles ... the 51 crosses ... it was a tearful time (Lietta.)

A local Methodist Church nearbye allowed the group to place the crosses on a triangle of their property and the candle-bearers circled the crosses before placing the candles in and around them.

(Lietta) I cried during the TV interview that took place at that time involving Hart Viges and me.

We then began to clean up - tired and emotionally spent. I made an effort to try to personally thank as many of the families who came as possible. One African-American family in particular tapped into my feelings which were so close to the surface (and for those who know Lietta, I can count on less than ten fingers the number of times I've seen her cry). The mother was concerned about recruiters and I asked if they were contacting his son, age 17, who was standing right there. She nodded.

Her son told her "Mom, it's okay."

But it wasn't okay with Mom. I could see that. I said to that young man, "Please don't go."

It was obvious that the son's conflict with choosing whether or not to sign up was something the family had been discussing for a while. I told them, "It looks like you have the makings for a serious family discussion. I wish you well as you work toward your decision."

When I got back to the bus there were two young girls looking to be 4th or 5th graders - again African American. One asked me, "Were you [the one] on TV? I hope I wasn't on TV."

"We don't want any more young people to go [to this war]" I told them my emotions still very close to the surface.

She hugged me, saying, "I hope it will be okay."

Then the other girl asked if she could see the inside of the bus. So I led them inside where we sat and talked. They were wide-eyed and fascinated. Hart came in, saw them and immediately engaged them in talk as only he can. He is so authentic!

Their school had just raised $1000 to sent to hurricane relief on the Gulf Coast.

As they were leaving one of them turned and said "I feel like my life changed forever."

Not sure what prompted that but I told Todd, one of our directors, "We need to try to go to a school - and I'm taking Hart with me!"

I think that the highlight of this day may very well have been the encounter with those two children. Our time in Indianapolis and Bloomington has been good. Tomorrow we meet with aides to U.S. Senators Bayh and Lugar before leaving town at noon.

Next stop Cincinnati for Wednesday and Thursday.

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President George W. Bush's statement in March 2006 after 3 yrs of war "a future President will have to resolve war in Iraq"


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