CRAWFORD, Texas – Something is new in the fight against President Bush’s military aggressions in the Middle East. It is the growing resistance of the military men and women as expressed by their families here at home.

Near President Bush’s “western White House” vacation ranch here, 150 antiwar protesters gathered on Aug. 23 to listen to the views of families of seven soldiers. At first, it seemed like an ordinary gathering. Many of the protesters were longtime activists; some of their signs had been seen before. Sensitive to the change in the antiwar struggle, though, were the newspersons. Among those covering the new phenomenon were media giants Newsweek, CNN, and even People magazine.

Each of the reporters paid careful attention to Candance Robison from the tiny town of Krum, Texas. Her husband, Mike, is a lieutenant in Iraq. Though she had no experience in protest before, Robison organized this event on her own. She and the other speakers are members of a new and growing organization, Military Families Speak Out (www.mfso.org). They are holding regional rallies such as the one in Crawford all over the United States in order to encourage other families and activists to join the demand, “Bring Our Boys Home!”

Robison had no previous knowledge of some of the other speakers who came forward at her rally. Her own heartfelt speech revealed her desperate hope for the safety of her husband, and her clear understanding of who was responsible for putting him at risk: George Bush.

She repeated the themes, “Bush does not care for our soldiers,” and “bring them home,” until the crowd picked them up as chants and repeated them with her. She said that active soldiers and veterans were losing pay and benefits. She said that information is being withheld from America. She said that maimed and mutilated soldiers are being hidden away from American reporters in German hospitals. She said that soldiers are being threatened with courts-martial if they speak out about bad conditions and unnecessary risks in Iraq. Robison told the crowd, “Bush lies to our nation and our soldiers about our reasons for going to war!”

“It is not their job to challenge the conduct of the war. That’s our job,” said Shannon Sharrock speaking of her husband in Iraq and the other American soldiers there. She and her husband both attended West Point Military Academy, but she later received a medical discharge. She lives in Temple, Texas, while her husband, Captain Joseph Sharrock, is risking his life in Iraq. Sharrock said that our government had provided, “false info, by which most of us were initially beguiled.” She quoted General MacArthur: “The soldier, above all others, prays for peace.”

Maria Longoria brought the wife, the siblings, and a nephew of her son to stand on the stage together to testify to their love and concern for Raymond Longoria, Jr. She was grateful for the chance. Then a grandmother, clutching her little dog, cried as she pleaded for help in keeping her loved one away from Afghanistan. A mother blasted Bush for bringing on this war. Fists were clenched and tears were shed on the stage and in the crowd.
Robison concluded her presentation: “It is time to speak out because our troops are still dying and our government is still lying. Morale is at an all time low and our heroes feel like they’ve been forgotten. We are gathering in Crawford to let them know we do care and to let George Bush know we will not stop speaking out until every American soldier is brought home safely.”

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