CRAWFORD, Texas - Antiwar activist Cindy Sheehan said yesterday that she was leaving the tent camp she had set up near President Bush's ranch because her mother suffered a stroke in California.
Sheehan, 48, said she and her sister Deedee Miller were flying to Los Angeles to join their mother, Shirley Miller, 74, who was receiving emergency treatment at an undisclosed location. Sheehan lives in Vacaville, Calif.
She said she hoped to return to Crawford within a day or two to resume her campaign to get Bush to meet with her.
"While I am gone, the other mothers of fallen soldiers in Iraq will keep up the pressure on the president to meet with us and answer questions about the war," she said.
Sheehan's 24-year-old son, Army Spc. Casey Sheehan, was killed in Iraq in April 2004, and she and other family members were part of a small group that met briefly with Bush last year at Ft. Lewis, Wash. Since then, she has said, her opposition to the war has intensified and she wants another chance to discuss her views with the president.
Sheehan arrived in Crawford on Aug. 6 and pitched the first tent in what has come to be known as Camp Casey, a roadside encampment where scores of supporters have shown up to participate in her campaign. She had vowed to stay in Crawford until Bush agreed to meet with her or until Aug. 31, shortly before the end of his five-week vacation.
Her abrupt departure rattled the Camp Casey community. But those who remained said they would continue the effort.
"Of course we're upset," said Mimi Evans of Hyannis, Mass., as she marched down Prairie Chapel Road with other supporters who hoped to hand-deliver a letter to Laura Bush requesting a meeting to discuss the war.
"It's actually had an energizing effect," said Evans, whose son, a Marine, is about to be deployed to Fallujah, Iraq. "We all know that we have to take our message back to our hometowns after this is over anyway. Now we're just starting to do that a little bit early."