Despite predictions of thunderstorms and tornados, the vigil carried on. The rain passed before we even started and the night was kind to us.
We had twelve participants, old hands were Kevin, Candace, a volunteer whose name escapes me (see suggestion below), Eric (the tall guy), and Matt (with a new less confrontational sign) were there. There were new faces, one a Vet for Peace from Illinois. Past vigilers were the woman from Pasadena, MD, the man from the Eastern shore, and our Navy male nurse from the Navy Yard. He has a new bike with a sign on the back that reads "I'm against Oil Wars" and he carries around an inflatable GW Bush doll with a Pinocchio nose. He uses both to proclaim his anti-war stance right on the base. All were enthusiastic. The vigil was disciplined. We used two of the banners by holding them rather than just hanging them on the fence. This definitely built greater solidarity. We continue to receive lots of vocal support from people driving by. No FYs last night. It was hard to leave at 9pm, in fact we stayed about fifteen minutes longer.
The previous Friday we did not see a single "white" bus--which was unusual. Well, last night, between 7:30 and 8:30pm four "white" buses passed inside WR. A woman who works inside (I believe) and came out to stand with us for a while reported that she saw people in gowns standing outside the hospital, obviously prepared to do triage.
A nurse (not a WR nurse) who stood vigil with us in her hospital scrubs, reported that she knows several WR nurses and that while they will not give her details, they say that the situation inside is "sad, very sad." Evidently, there are reports of more suicides.
Of the traffic coming out of WR during last night's vigil, those that acknowledged us did so positively, indicating clearly that they were happy to see us there. There were no negatives (though some SUVs still pointedly honk for the whackos across the street). But I noticed that the expensive, I presume administrators' cars, went by without comment. Maybe they're actually thinking of those four "white" buses.
By the way, close to the end the big "family" bus pulled in--the whackos made a big display to "greet" them but you could see through the large windows that the people inside were not happy. However, we have not seen in a while now the bus that takes the patients out to dinner. The wounded are not coming outside either. We need to get inside and find out what is going on.
Oh yeah, one more thing. A guy showed up claiming to be a "Press" person from something he called Cybercast Network. He spent most of his time over with the whackos at first, filming us from across the street with a hand-held video camera. Then he went into WR and a few moments later drove out, crossed Georgia to the "other side". He returned some time later, and came over to us. I'm afraid I was rather rude to him, asked him not to stand in front of our banner, and told him to go back to his "friends". At first he was hostile but then pleaded for us to believe he is an "independent" news person. He interviewed a couple of us and filmed us. I have a hunch we'll end up on someone's blog--and who knows how our words may be twisted? I think we should decline interviews unless we know who the press are, and they should speak with us first. It's our vigil and we should get to frame the story--not end up having to respond to certain wild allegations. (newest ones--we murder babies, want America to fail, and Code Pink is paying us to be at the vigil.)
1) Next week I would like to bring a clipboard with a sign-in sheet. It gets busy on the vigil and I am not getting people's names. Signing in can be voluntary, giving us contact info can be too, but we should get at least an X so we can be sure of the count. And we should use the contact info to send out weekly reminders of the vigil, with calls for special needs, time changes, and what to do if the weather is threatening. I'm afraid the predictions of a major storm may have kept some people away last night.
2) It would be good to have a large banner that several people can help hold. Banners keep us together and more focused.
3) We made a point of advising vigilers to be at WR on Sep 23rd. For next week we should have something to hand out. Even if the whackos find out--what can they do that they are not already doing? By the way, I noticed that the guy with the beard and cigar (who seems to be their leader) was absent last night. They did bring young children with them but they just seemed bored.
I thought this would be a short report. Sorry for the length.
OPEIU Local 2