Monday, November 27, 2006

War Memorial or Anti War Protest?

I went home to my parents for Thanksgiving this year. Home is a little town in the San Francisco Bay area called Lafayette. Lafayette usually makes the news when a teenager kills someone and the story is later made into a movie with Tori Spelling or a Law and Order episode. Other than that, it is pretty quiet.

So imagine the uproar when someone took their pricey piece of undeveloped land and turned it into a memorial for the soldiers lost in our current Iraq war.

Now, keep in mind that we have honored our fallen soldiers in every war that this country has fought in - In my family we have newspaper photos from every war going back to WWI, because family members have fought in every single one of them - Our country honored our soldiers with newspaper photographs, footage of flag-draped coffins, memorials at places like Arlington, later televised funerals when the teeVee entered the living room - that is every war except this one. It is part of our culture to acknowledge and mourn the dead. In this war, however, we are apparently to close our eyes and do like the president does. If we don't see it, does that mean our dead aren't really dead? This is not really happening? Our kids aren't really in danger?

One angry motorist got out of her car and knocked the sign down. Turns out that motorist was a retired Marine Sergeant. Okay, so a military officer takes an oath to support and defend the U.S. Constitution. That doesn't mean supporting and defending only those portions of the U.S. Constitution that they agree with, and whatever the intention the message might be by the person or persons responsible for erecting the memorial, anti-war or not, it IS what every city in this nation needs. A memorial; a symbol of sadness and respect for those lost and who continue to be lost and a reminder of the high cost of war.

I went to see for myself. And I cried. There are more crosses now than when the newspaper photo was taken that I have posted above. In addition to 350 white crosses, there are Stars of David, a Muslim Crescent and a cross painted in the rainbow colors of the Gay flag. One cross was plain, unpainted wood. The sign was updated to read the most recently reported number of soldiers killed. People have placed flowers and flags at the base of many of the crosses. I guess they saw it the same way I did, which sure as hell is not political and is about as patriotic as anything I can think of.

There is apparently a public hearing tonight about the memorial. Some want it torn down. My question is - why aren't MORE towns erecting memorials?


Blogger Eschew Obfuscation said...

Good post. You might be interested to know that the Marines have denied that "retired Marine sargent" Jean Bonodio was ever in the Marines.

27 November, 2006 15:15  
Blogger windspike said...

I think there is a bunch of different communities that have done similar memorials - one in Santa Barbara if I am not mistaken.

I like the traveling memorial of empty combat boots with each person's picture and as much detail on the boot tags as they can gather about each KIA in Iraq. It's more powerful and less likely to get knocked over.

27 November, 2006 15:58  
Blogger Laura said...

I just got back myself....a whirlwind 72 hours or I definitely would have called you. I saw the memorial too. Good for that person for making a stand.

27 November, 2006 16:43  
Anonymous Tom Harper said...

I can't imagine anyone being against a memorial like this. I followed the link to Eschew Obfuscation and from there to Atlas Shrugs, where they're saying the memorial is just a leftwing propoganda tool. Every time I think rightwing Neanderthals couldn't possibly get any more stupid and braindead, they do.

That's a very good point you make, that most of the American population has just tuned out this war. They just go about their daily routine, put a yellow sticker on their car and slanderize anyone who disagrees with the war; and meanwhile they're completely unaffected by the war. Americans need to be reminded every day, in every way possible, that American soldiers are being killed and maimed every day in Iraq. War is Hell, and it's a sin (and I'm not even religious) to keep sweeping it under the rug while Americans are fighting and dying over there.

27 November, 2006 21:35  
Blogger Archie Levine said...

My question, and I hate to be the voice of (t)reason, but why on earth would they prefer demanding the memorial come down to demanding they bring the soldiers home and stop the killing?

20 December, 2006 14:07  
Blogger gayle's DH said...

The crosses and boots are poignant. Additionally, I wish Americans had a greater appreciation for the innocent Iraqi women, children, etc., that we have killed, as well. The Adminstration wants us to think it is 35,000 +/-, but academic actuarialists suggest it is 400,000 - 700,000. Either way, that is a lot memorials. Our media doesn't mention it much...maybe it is because the innocent Iraqis are a different color or religion or improverished.

Maybe we could just ask the 25,000 maimed soldiers go to the shopping mall in each community and shake hands and thank each of us for our sacrifice.

03 January, 2007 15:43  
Blogger 1138 said...

Last summer I was in deep upstate New York near Cooperstown.
On a back country road, no where near a metropolitan area or subdivisions I encountered "Burma Shave" type signs asking questions about the war.
Good questions by a person who simply wanted to understand.
Not Anti Iraq debacle, but serious questions - I wish I had photographed them.

What get me about your story is that apparently someone in the community thinks they have a right to forve the owner of this property to remove the non threatening memorial.

Risht wingers never fail to amaze me with the disregard they have for ownership, speech and thought.

18 February, 2007 08:38  

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