Vigil for Cindy Sheehan, north Berkeley, August 17, 2005

On August 17, 2005, and other political action groups organized a series of candlelight vigils across the country in support of Cindy Sheehan and her ongoing protest in Crawford, Texas.

I attended the vigil held in north Berkeley on Shattuck Avenue.

The crowd gathered, as arranged, in front of the French Hotel, a trendy spot in Berkeley's "Gourmet Ghetto" area directly across the street from Chez Panisse, the famous restaurant frequented by Bill Clinton whenever he's in town.

Soon, everyone started breaking out the candles. MoveOn handily provided candles for those who forgot to bring their own.

Everyone had something to say. For example, this woman wanted the world to go backwards in time to 2003, so that the invasion of Iraq would once again be a potential future event that could be avoided this time around.

The Cindy bandwagon is not limited to humankind: all species are jumping aboard.

The crowd started lining the traffic island in the middle of Shattuck Avenue as well, creating a Sheehan Tunnel for passing cars. Every now and then -- though surprisingly infrequently -- someone honked in support.

Nostalgia for the good ol' days swept over the crowd, and they broke into song. And by "good old days," I really do mean good old days, as many of the protesters were seniors who had been doing this kind of stuff since the late 1950s or early '60s. They dusted off that old favorite "We Shall Overcome" (QuickTime mpeg video, 1.8mb) (Clicking on this link -- and the link below -- will open a QuickTime video file in a new window):

"Deep in my heart
I do believe
We shall overcome

But wait! Just as I turned off my video camera the lyrics took a comedic turn -- I turned it back on just in time to catch the end of it (QuickTime mpeg video, 2.6mb):

"...rid of Bush
Deep in my heart
I do believe
We'll get rid of Bush

The table had Cindy Sheehan on DVD, in case you weren't already overdosed on her smug smile from round-the-clock TV coverage.

As often happens at vigils, there wasn't much to do once the candles were lit. The biggest thrill was waiting for a passing car to "Honk for Cindy."

As I left, a snapped a picture of a typical vigil-attendee's car, one of dozens of similarly adorned vehicles parked in every available nearby spot. (License plate blotted out for privacy.)