It's called Camp Reality. It's across the road from Camp Casey. There are nine inhabitants and they are playing Rush Limbaugh at about 23 decibels above the threshold of pain. They have all the comforts of home now. They have coolers full of Ozarka Spring Water, shade and a port-a-pot of their own. The fence is festooned with "Stay the Course" and "Bush Cheney 04" signs, along with yellow ribbons and a flag every five feet. Then there is the freshly dug grave.
It seems a little out of place, a little shocking in the midst of all the standard iconography of patriotism. I'm having a problem decoding the symbolism here. Is this perhaps the grave of Casey Sheehan - honored properly at last? Or a poignant metaphor for all our soldiers who died in Iraq, protecting our liberties? Or did they just bury someone there?
Further down Prairie Chapel road there is another outpost. They have a nice sign - "American Legion Post 170 - Crawford Welcomes You". And indeed they were very nice and welcoming. I spoke to Kathy Warren Miller, the president of Post 170 on Saturday and she was warm, courteous and invited me to come over and join a meeting sometime. She wasn't there today. There were just five people there (although they do have their own port-a-pot now). All five of them were busy erecting the "Camp George" sign. It kind of put me in the mind of Iwo Jima (if Iwo Jima was just for Bush Supporters).
Back in Crawford proper, "Fort Qualls" has more of the look of permanence, with green and blue striped tents and a repeating loop of patriotic music. I parked in the lot of The Security Bank of Crawford, where they were stringing a blue banner across the entrance that said "This is Bush Country" and jay-walked across Avenue G to visit the fort. It was empty, eerie, the wind was whipping the flags and America the Beautiful was playing. Just when I began to really feel like this was The Andromeda Strain, two teenagers walked up and stood reading the signs.
"Why are you here", I asked the taller, skinnier one?
"Freedom isn't Free", he said.
It is quite literally impossible to take a photograph of a Bush supporter encampment (or a Bush supporter) without a flag.
- Camp Reality - 1
- Camp George - 1
- Fort Qualls - 3
- Camp Casey #1 - 5
- Camp Casey #2 - 11