CRAWFORD, Texas -- Cindy Sheehan said yesterday that the antiwar vigil she started nearly three weeks ago near President Bush's ranch won't end when she and other protesters pack up their camp next week.
Sheehan, whose son died in the Iraq war, said that the day after she leaves Crawford on Aug. 31, she will embark on a bus tour ending in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 24. Then the group will start a 24-hour vigil there.
''I am not alone," she said at a news conference yesterday. ''There's the people standing behind me here, but there's thousands of military families . . . who want the same answers to the same questions."
On Wednesday, Sheehan returned to ''Camp Casey," named after her 24-year-old son, Army Specialist Casey Sheehan, who was killed last year in Iraq.
''This is where I belong, until Aug. 31, like I told the president," Sheehan said at the Waco airport before driving about 20 miles to the Crawford site.
When Sheehan arrived at the campsite, she saw a large banner showing her son's face. She sobbed and said she felt ill.
Sheehan began her vigil Aug. 6 on the road leading to Bush's ranch, vowing to stay through his monthlong vacation unless he met with her. She left last week to visit her 74-year-old mother in Los Angeles after the woman suffered a stroke.
Sheehan said she realizes that Bush has no intentions of meeting with the protesters, but that her vigil has accomplished other things.
''It's worthwhile because we've galvanized the peace movement," she said. ''We've started people talking about the war again."
Sheehan's protest in Crawford has encouraged antiwar activists to join her and prompted peace vigils nationwide. She also continues to draw harsh criticism.
Conservative activists and military families were en route to Crawford from California on a tour called ''You don't speak for me, Cindy!" The caravan coordinated by Move America Forward plans to hold a pro-Bush rally in town tomorrow.
Bush returned to Texas on Wednesday after a three-day trip to Idaho and Utah, where he rallied support for the war.