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Hundreds Attend Candlelight Vigil

People gather to show solidarity with Cindy Sheehan.

As Cindy Perno was walking into the candlelight vigil held last week for Cindy Sheehan, she ran into Mary Fesq. The two had never met each other, but once they started talking they realized that they were listed right next to each other on the reservation list.

The two bonded together and decided to be filmed jointly for the video being made for Sheehan.

“You have the power of a mother’s love and have millions behind you,” Perno said.

“Thank you for bringing us together,” added Fesq.

Others shared their thoughts for the video. Ellen Phillips said, “Keep on coming — we’re so proud of you.” Virginia Harris said, “We’re with you all the way; I wish you get a chance to talk to the president.”

Throughout the evening, others shared the same hope that Sheehan would get her wish to speak with President Bush. Sheehan has attracted national attention by camping out near the entrance of the president’s ranch in Crawford, Texas; her son, Casey was killed in the Iraq War and she is asking for immediate troop withdrawal.

The vigil was held at the Mount Vernon home of Chuck Fazio, owner of Vision Creative, a marketing communications company in Old Town. It was part of a nationwide vigil held to show solidarity with Sheehan.

Fazio decided to do this because he was so taken with Sheehan and her peace efforts after he spent a few days in Crawford, Texas visiting The Crawford Peace House.

“Simply, I'm fed up with the lying and the manipulation coming from this administration. They lied about the reasons for the war,” he said.

THE VIGIL, HOWEVER, was not meant to be a Bush-bashing event, but rather a time to reflect and bring people together. Well over 200 people gathered in the yard of Fazio’s waterfront home, holding candles and singing songs. It was an eclectic group of men and women from many races; and different political affiliations. The age of the participants ranged from very young to much older. For many, like Jake Cauthen, who blew out the candle lit by his father, John, it was his first peace protest.

When everybody had gathered together, Fazio shared stories and photos from his visit to Crawford.

“He said that when he showed up, he said, ‘I’m Chuck from Washington, D.C., what can I do to help?’ Within minutes, he was in charge of traffic. That was not a small task, given the fact that they wanted the peace effort to have a minimal effect on the local people getting around. The large volume of people who were coming in to support Sheehan had to be dealt with.

“Most of the people waved and were supportive,” Fazio said.

He explained that it was a lonely experience for the volunteers, many of whom had no communication other than cell phones. One of the reasons he wanted to hold the vigil was to show Sheehan that the world is watching. He videotaped the vignettes of people talking to show her that people are here.

Fazio said that Sheehan hugged everybody who came up to meet her, adding, “She’s a very unassuming woman. She is the most wonderful, warm and caring person.”

AN EMAIL SENT TO PARTICIPANTS after the event reads, “Thank you again for coming to Cindy’s vigil this evening. It looks as though we have just about the largest attendance of any private vigil on the east coast if not the country. I must say that that’s just a little bit overwhelming. I was figuring on about 50 people [attending].

“Do you all realize that our numbers tonight will equal a pretty good percentage of those who are actually in Crawford? That is simply amazing and will clearly show the American people, the media and the administration that Cindy is not alone.

“My purpose and my hope for this vigil is to create within each of you a connection to Cindy and our fellow Americans and what they are doing in Crawford. They, along with our troops, are true American heroes and we're going to show them how proud of them we are and how much we support their efforts. 'Supporting our troops' means getting them out of Iraq and this godforsaken war as soon as possible.

“Let me also say that despite what the extremist right wing press would have you believe, Cindy is not being handled by anyone. Each of the groups I saw camped out down there is as grass roots as they come. I spent Friday evening with Cindy inside the Peace House. The small house was a box of energy as people worked on the web site, chopped veggies for a late dinner and built shelves for the tons of stuff that was being donated. She sat quietly on one side of the couch checking her email while I sat on the other checking mine. Two other people were sitting with us. Coincidentally, sitting next to me was Ray from Arlington. Despite the fact that she had been outside since the wee hours of the morning, Cindy was always so gracious when a new arrival paid their respects to her. She greeted everyone with a hug and a thank you.”

Wendel Allen was so taken with the cause that when he spoke for the video, he told Sheehan that if she wanted to visit this area he would meet her at the airport, give her a car and a place to stay.

Susana Gomez said, “She speaks for a lot of people especially those who have lost loved ones. She echoes our feelings — if you think about it, most people know somebody who is over there. I’m a mother and have friends overseas fighting in the war.”