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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 August 2005, 19:31 GMT 20:31 UK
Vigils to support Sheehan protest
Cindy Sheehan at vigil
Sheehan wants to stay till the president meets her
More than 1,000 anti-war vigils have been held around the United States in support of a bereaved mother protesting outside President Bush's Texas ranch.

Protesters held candles, sang hymns and chanted in gatherings across the country in support of Cindy Sheehan.

Ms Sheehan, 48, has become a focus for anti-war sentiment since her protest began in Crawford 10 days ago.

She has vowed to stay put during the president's month-long holiday at his ranch until he agrees to meet her.

Each one was a valuable human life, each one was an indispensable member of his or her family
Cindy Sheehan

Ms Sheehan, whose eldest son, Casey, was killed in action in 2004, wants Mr Bush to withdraw US troops from Iraq.

The president has so far refused to agree to her request to meet him, although he says he has given her plea for troop withdrawal serious consideration.

White House officials say Ms Sheehan has met the president on a previous occasion, and made her views known then.

She has vowed to stay put during the president's month-long holiday at his ranch until he agrees to meet her.

'Meet with Cindy'

Around 1,600 vigils had been planned by liberal advocacy groups MoveOn.org Political Action, TrueMajority and Democracy for America.

In Crawford, several hundred people lit candles and gathered around a wooden flag-draped coffin at the camp, situated about a mile from Mr Bush's ranch, to remember the dead.

"Each one was a valuable human life," Ms Sheehan said, quoted by Reuters news agency. "Each one was an indispensable member of his or her family."

But before the vigil war supporter Gary Qualls drove to the site to remove a cross with the name of his son who died in the war, saying what was happening was "disrespectful".

Several hundred people attended a vigil near the White House in Washington, chanting "meet with Cindy, tell her the truth" and "end the war now".

In Charleston, West Virginia, protesters unrolled a giant banner bearing the names of all Americans killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

At least one counter-demonstration was organised by pro-war group FreeRepublic.com, prompting a heated exchange with protesters in a Washington park.

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