CRAWFORD, Texas – A woman whose son was killed in Iraq returned to Texas Wednesday to resume her anti-war protest near President Bush's ranch after a weeklong absence to care for her ailing mother.
About a dozen protesters who have continued the peace vigil picked up Cindy Sheehan (search) at the Waco airport Wednesday afternoon, six days after she flew to Los Angeles when her 74-year-old mother suffered a stroke.
"This is where I belong, until Aug. 31, like I told the president," Sheehan said at the airport before driving about 20 miles to the Crawford site.
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. Her 24-year-old son, Army Spc. Casey Sheehan, was killed last year in Iraq.
Sheehan's protest has encouraged anti-war 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 Saturday.
Among those defending Sheehan are former U.S. ambassador Joseph Wilson (search), who believes that his wife's identity as an undercover CIA operative was leaked in retaliation for his criticism of the Bush administration in a 2002 New York Times op-ed piece.
"The Bush White House and its right-wing allies are responding to Cindy Sheehan and the military families' vigil in central Texas in the same way that they always respond to bad news -- by unleashing personal attacks and smears against her," Wilson said in a statement released Wednesday.
Later Wednesday, Bush was to return to Texas after a three-day trip to Idaho, where he met with some military families and gave speeches to rally support for the war. He said Tuesday that he recognizes Sheehan's right to protest and understands her anguish, although she does not represent the views of many families he has met with.
Sheehan and other grieving families met with Bush about two months after her son died last year, before reports of faulty prewar intelligence surfaced and caused her to become a vocal opponent of the war.