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Camp Casey tour draws 200 to rally protesting Iraq War <br> Event includes vigil in Lafayette Square

About 200 people attended an anti-war rally and candlelight vigil Monday night in Lafayette Square in solidarity with Cindy Sheehan's "Bring Them Home Now" tour.

The event was held without Sheehan, who was in New Jersey as part of a 25-state speaking tour.

Sheehan, the mother of a soldier killed in the Iraq War, gained national attention camping outside President Bush's Crawford, Texas, ranch during his summer vacation.

"We've gotten all kinds of comments," Tammara Rosenleaf of Helena, Mont., said earlier in the day. "We just had a man standing on the corner saying, 'This is a good war, this is a good war,' and I looked over at him and said, 'Yeah, right, what's good about it?' "

Rosenleaf, who spent 22 days at the Crawford protest, now is on one of three Camp Casey tours making their way around the country. In November, her husband is scheduled to ship out from Fort Hood for Iraq.

Cody Camacho, 23, an ex-Army specialist from Chicago who served a year in Iraq before being honorably discharged, said he believed he and his fellow soldiers fought for an unjust cause falsely sold to the American people.

Al Zappala of Philadelphia, who formerly worked for the Defense Department and served in the Army Reserve, urged U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. His son Sgt. Sherwood Baker died in April 2004 while serving with the National Guard in Baghdad.

"It's too late for my son; he's gone. And it's too late for the close to 1,900 other men and women who have lost their lives in this war. But he had another family, and that was the Army, and his brothers and sisters are still there.

"We're emphasizing they bring the troops home now, take care of them when they are here and never go to war again based on lies," said Zappala, a member of Gold Star Parents for Peace.

Amy Evans' eyes moistened as she paused before the rows of white crosses set up to represent dead soldiers. The Amherst resident called the display a powerful reminder of the war's cost.

"I think of men in my life who could be instantly affected by being brought into this war. Their names could be on these crosses right now," Evans said.

The former Bush supporter praised Sheehan for showing courage in speaking out against the war.

"I believe in her. I could see my mother doing the same thing, and if it's my child, hell yes, I'd go to the ends of the earth to fight for him," Evans said.

As "We Can Be Together," Jefferson Airplane's 1970 countercultural anthem, blared over the square, John Wilklow of Derby sharply disagreed with Camp Casey.

"People had horrendous conditions living under Saddam Hussein. Who did he have to answer to? No one. War is a sad part of life, but it's realistic," said Wilklow, who also has family in the military. "Like they say, 'Freedom isn't free.' "

Wilklow said widespread anti-Bush sentiment bothered him.

"I'm a little miffed at people's hatred towards Bush, just this uncontrolled hatred," he said. "Sure, he's not going to be popular with some of the things he does, but he has to do what's necessary."

Camp Casey also observed the "National Day of Outrage," called Monday by several groups angered by the federal government's response to Hurricane Katrina.

"Tens of thousands of people were abandoned and left to die because they were poor, they were black," said Ellie Dorritie, a local member of International Action Center, an anti-war group.

"They were not important to the government to be rescued."

Stacy Bannerman of Kent, Wash., whose husband, Sgt. Lorin Bannerman, served a year in Iraq with the National Guard, said the large number of National Guard personnel assigned to Iraq from states hard hit by Hurricane Katrina was yet another reason for the United States to withdraw.

"We saw with Hurricane Katrina just how devastating it is to the people of America when we have our Army National Guard personnel overseas in Iraq," she said.


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