Iraq War Protest Vigils Dot U.S.

Peace mom' Cindy Sheehan of Vacaville, Calif., joined by Benjamin Hart of Austin, Texas, who served with the Army in Iraq, leads a candlelight vigil at her anti-war roadside encampment near President Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas, Wednesday evening, Aug. 17, 2005.
As the sun dipped behind pastures around the makeshift campsite near President Bush's ranch, more than 200 people silently clutched candles and gathered around a flag-draped coffin.

The vigil calling for an end to the war in Iraq was among hundreds nationwide Wednesday, part of an effort spurred by Cindy Sheehan's anti-war protest in memory of her son Casey, who died in Iraq last year.

"For the more than 1,800 who have come home this way in flag-draped coffins, each one ... was a son or a daughter, not cannon fodder to be used so recklessly," Sheehan said. "Each one is a valuable human life that is missed so desperately."

More than 1,600 vigils were held from coast to coast, drawing tens of thousands of people, according to the organizers, liberal advocacy groups, TrueMajority and Democracy for America. A vigil was also held at Paris' Peace Wall, a glass monument near the Eiffel Tower that says "peace" in 32 languages.

Marie Evans said she attended a gathering at the state Capitol in Oklahoma City to make her opposition to the war heard.

"There was no question in my mind that we needed to make a statement in Oklahoma, which is a very conservative state," she said, holding a sign that read, "Every day President Bush plays in Crawford our young men die."

Demonstrators in Nashville, Tenn., carried candles, flags and banners of protest, including one that read: "Thank you for your courage Cindy."

"This is a good example of how one person can make a difference," said Gigi Gaskins, 44, of Nashville.

Sheehan, of Vacaville, Calif., has said she won't leave Texas until Bush's monthlong vacation ends or he meets with her and other grieving families.

President Bush has said he sympathizes with Sheehan but has made no indication he will meet with her. Two top Bush administration officials talked to Sheehan the day she started her camp, and she and other families met with Bush shortly after her son's death and before she became a vocal opponent of the war.