CRAWFORD, Texas -- The mother of a fallen soldier who led a vigil against the war in Iraq outside President Bush's ranch returned to Texas, saying she was ''heartbroken" that the troops are not home.
When Cindy Sheehan arrived at the Waco airport Thursday, three dozen supporters erupted into cheers and tears and grabbed her for lengthy embraces. Before they whisked her back to Crawford, the group chanted, ''Stop the war! Bring them home now!"
''I feel happy to be back here with all my friends . . . but I'm heartbroken that we have to be here again," said Sheehan. ''We will keep pressing and we won't give up until our troops are brought home."
Sheehan asked protesters to return to Crawford this week during the Bush family's Thanksgiving gathering. She had planned to arrive earlier, but a family emergency delayed her. She set up camp outside Bush's ranch during his August vacation, and as the vigil drew thousands, she attracted national attention.
Yesterday, Sheehan's itinerary included attending a dedication of a garden at the Crawford Peace House in honor of her 24-year-old son, Casey, who died in Iraq last year. An antiwar rally was scheduled at a downtown park today.
A few miles away in a field beside the main road leading to Bush's ranch, a Bush supporter set up camp Thursday with a tent and signs saying ''A Noble Cause" and showing pictures of smiling Iraqi children.
The campsite of the war protesters this week is at the same 1-acre private lot that a landowner let them use in August when Sheehan's original campsite became too crowded. The grassy lot is about a mile from Bush's ranch.
Before Sheehan's arrival, more than 100 protesters at the camp ate a traditional Iraqi meal for Thanksgiving. They said they wanted to call attention to the innocent Iraqi victims in addition to the more than 2,100 US soldiers killed since the war began in March 2003.
''It's significant because the people of Iraq are suffering under our occupation, and for people in America it's business as usual stuffing themselves on fat turkeys," said Tammara Rosenleaf, whose husband is an Army soldier to be deployed in a few weeks.