_

________

_
 
Address:
Maine Veterans For Peace Chapter 001
13 Soper Road
Chesterville, Me 04938


 
Home
 
About Us ►
 
VFP Events & Actions ►
 
GI Resources ►
 
Resources ►
 
VFP Archives ►
 
Youth Action ►
 
Affiliates ►
 
disclaimer
  From the LA Times, Opinion Page, Page B21 - November 6, 2004

VOICES / A FORUM FOR COMMUNITY ISSUES

1,000 Is Just a Number, Till You See the Crosses

By Richard B. Anderson, Richard B. Anderson is a writer in Santa Barbara.

 

Every Sunday, the veterans come together to build "Arlington West" - this one on the beach by the pier in Santa Barbara. There have been others, in Santa Monica, for instance. The veterans place a cross in the sand for every GI who's been killed in Iraq. Laid out with military precision, the memorial is visually striking, a stark message left on the doorstep of an otherwise picture- perfect reality. And each weekend the memorial is larger than the week before.

Since its inception, a little less than a year ago, the number of crosses has more than tripled. It's a powerful reminder of the cost of war and of those we've lost. The crosses themselves are well made. Twenty-four inches tall, 12 inches across, they're made of Douglas fir, painted white. And they're not blank. Each one is labeled with the name of a casualty, his or her place of birth, and where and often how he or she died. Sometimes there are wishes and remembrances from the family. They're personalized. That's what makes them so overwhelming.

My first encounter with Arlington West will remain in my memory for a long time to come. Santa Barbara is a beautiful place; the mountains and the sea come together here, with the pleasant town and quiet harbor nestled between - hardly the place you'd expect to encounter the ultimate reality. The incongruity is emotionally wrenching.

Walking out into the memorial for the first time, I found myself overwhelmed with grief. One thousand casualties is just a number. One thousand crosses, with names and dates, will drive you to your knees like a sledgehammer.

I helped take down the memorial that day, at least partly to distract myself from that feeling of being overwhelmed. It's a huge task, and there's definitely a craft to it. A veteran showed me how to arrange the crosses, how to stack them in bundles of 16, how to tie them with cords left in the sand. I helped carry the bundles to the road, one in each hand. Those bundles are heavy, and they felt like an awkward burden - until I reminded myself of what I was carrying. I watched the bundles stacked in the van, the way soldiers are packed into Humvees and Bradleys, pragmatically and without artfulness, but not without grace.

In the United States, we don't have much contact with mortality, up close and personal. Death happens elsewhere, is dealt with elsewhere. It's strange and upsetting to find it next to the sidewalk. A graveyard is usually a place that you leave the dead to lie, to separate yourselves from them. But here, there is no separation. Every week the soldiers are laid to rest, and every week they're gathered up again.

Those who pass by react with sorrow, grief and often anger. For those involved in it, the ritual loses its original starkness, but it never becomes routine. Our soldiers' deaths in Iraq used to be reported on the front page, above the fold. But the war has been going on so long that casualties are no longer front-page news; they're reported in the text of some other story, if indeed they're reported at all. Their coffins are unloaded in the dead of night; their memorial is not yet built. The public has moved on.

But here in Santa Barbara, the veterans don't forget. They spend their weekends, without recompense, performing this serious and simple ritual. In a space usually populated by sunbathers, they create a memorial as powerful in its way as the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington. They give a presence to the dead, and the dead themselves inform us with this message: This is the cost of what we do.

 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

 

 

 

 

 

-------------------

 

 

 

 
_______________   _______________

 

north face cyber monday legend blue 11s coach black friday michael kors cyber monday beats by dre cyber monday beats by dre cheap north face cyber monday lululemon black friday uggs black friday bred 13s coach cyber monday beats by dre black friday uggs black friday coach black friday legend blue 11s jordan 6 black infrared jordan 6 black infrared black infrared 6s louis vuitton outlet lebron 12 beats by dre outlet lebron 12 uggs cyber monday north face black friday north face black friday jordan 11 legend blue black infrared 6s jordan 6 black infrared jordan 11 legend blue uggs cyber monday coach outlet online beats by dre black friday coach black friday jordan 11 legend blue michael kors black friday legend blue 11s black infrared 6s coach black friday uggs black friday jordan 6 black infrared legend blue 11s north face cyber monday louis vuitton outlet beats by dre black friday beats by dre cyber monday jordan 6 black infrared barons 13s jordan 6 black infrared grey toe 13s michael kors black friday legend blue 11s jordan 6 black infrared jordan 11 legend blue michael kors cyber monday coach black friday beats by dre cheap louis vuitton outlet north face cyber monday uggs cyber monday michael kors black friday beats by dre outlet michael kors black friday beats by dre cyber Monday north face black friday beats by dre black friday jordan 13 grey toe louis vuitton outlet uggs cyber monday beats by dre black friday beats by dre black friday jordan 13 black infrared 23 coach cyber monday louis vuitton outlet north face black friday coach outlet michael kors cyber monday uggs black friday bred 13s black infrared 6s grey toe 13s uggs cyber monday michael kors cyber monday michael kors cyber monday coach black friday michael kors black friday jordan 6 black infrared coach cyber monday michael kors black friday north face black friday lululemon cyber monday lululemon cyber monday uggs black friday coach black friday michael kors black friday lululemon cyber monday north face black friday coach cyber monday jordan 13 bred grey toe 13s uggs cyber monday coach cyber monday north face cyber monday uggs cyber monday coach cyber monday beats by dre cyber monday coach outlet online michael kors black friday michael kors black friday louis vuitton outlet louis vuitton outlet north face black friday jordan 13 bred jordan 6 black infrared north face cyber monday black infrared 6s beats by dre black friday black infrared 6s michael kors black friday north face cyber monday michael kors black friday