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Dueling protesters converge in Texas

Thousands come to praise, counter military mother

(Correction: Because of a reporting error, a story in Sunday's Globe about rallies by antiwar and pro-President Bush groups in Crawford, Texas, gave the incorrect name of a group founded by antiwar protester Charley Richardson of Jamaica Plain. The group is Military Families Speak Out.)

CRAWFORD, Texas -- Several thousand people descended on President Bush's adopted hometown yesterday, most in a crosscountry caravan for a pro-Bush rally and others to support an antiwar demonstration led by grieving mother Cindy Sheehan.

Bush supporters gathered for an event marking the culmination of the ''You don't speak for me, Cindy!" tour, which had started in California. The crowd of about 1,500 chanted, ''Cindy, go home!"

''You are giving hope and encouragement to the enemies of America," said Howard Kaloogian, a former California assemblyman and a Republican who cofounded the group that coordinated the rally.

Meanwhile, busloads of war protesters gathered several miles away at ''Camp Casey," named for Sheehan's 24-year-old son who died in Iraq last year.

A bell-ringing ceremony yesterday honored soldiers serving in Iraq. Organizers estimated the crowd at more than 2,000, but it appeared smaller.

''I know that the Camp Casey movement is going to end the war in Iraq," Sheehan said, adding that no other families should have to suffer the loss of a relative. She led the crowd in chanting ''Not one more!"

Among the antiwar protesters was Charley Richardson of Jamaica Plain, who founded Military Families Against War with his wife, Nancy Lessin, and another family in 2002. Richardson's son, Joe, served in Iraq in spring 2003.

''I'm down here because my son served in the Marines and is still part of the Individual Ready Reserves," Richardson said. ''It's a war of lies."

''My son has always taken the position [that] it's not only our right, but our duty as citizens to speak out on issues we think are important, issues as significant as war and peace," he said.

At the pro-Bush rally several miles away, there were some heated moments when two members of Protest Warrior, a group that frequently holds counterprotests to antiwar rallies, walked in with a sign that read ''Say No to War -- Unless a Democrat is President."

Many Bush supporters saw only the top of the sign and believed the men were war protesters, so they began shouting and chasing the pair out. One man tore up their signs. When Will Marean of Minneapolis kept repeating that he was on the Bush side and tried to explain Protest Warrior's mission, one Bush supporter shook his hand and apologized.

Sheehan, of Vacaville, Calif., started camping out off the road leading to Bush's ranch on Aug. 6, soon after the president's Texas vacation began. She vowed to remain unless he talked to her about the war with Iraq that claimed the life of her son and more than 1,870 other US soldiers.

Sheehan said that after the protest ends Wednesday, some of the group will spread its message on a tour, with the first stop probably in the Texas district of the House majority leader, Tom DeLay, a Republican.

Bush has said he appreciates Sheehan's right to protest and understands her anguish, but will not change his schedule. His vacation is to end Friday.

Globe correspondent Cyra Master contributed to this report.

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