08/25/2005 at 08:00 AM EDT
Cindy Sheehan, the mother of slain soldier Army Spc. Casey Sheehan, returned to Crawford, Texas, Wednesday to continue her protest of President Bush's handling of the war in Iraq.
Sheehan, who first camped outside the president's ranch Aug. 6, had left Crawford for California to take care of her mother who had suffered a stroke, the Associated Press reports.
Sheehan told reporters that even while she was away, part of her remained at Camp Casey, named in honor of her son. "This is where I belong, until Aug. 31, like I told the president," Sheehan said.
She first came to Texas alone to call attention to what she claimed was the president's mishandling of the war. Sheehan, who had previously met with Bush after her son's death last year, was seeking a new audience with the president, who was vacationing at his ranch for the month of August.
Her cause soon began drawing protesters from around the country, as polls showing the public's dissatisfaction with the war continued to rise.
On Sunday, folk singer Joan Baez joined the protest – which had grown to include hundreds of supporters – for a free performance.
Not everyone agrees with Sheehan's efforts, however. Some residents of Crawford have complained about the influx of people in their sleepy town, and a group called Move America Forward was en route to Texas from California to stage a pro-Bush rally Saturday.