Tuesday, May 5, 2009

May 3, 2009 - Santa Monica Pier

Arlington West Memorial, a project of Veterans for Peace, offers visitors a graceful, visually and emotionally powerful, place for reflection. Every Sunday from sunrise to sunset, a temporary memorial is created on the beaches of Southern California just north of the world famous pier at Santa Monica, California. There is another such memorial at the Sterns Wharf in Santa Barbara.

Just this week six more US military personnel were killed in Iraq. In Santa Monica at Arlington West a sign displays this statistic as well as the overall number of US military personnel killed -- at least the number that is shared for public consumption.

Arlington West at Santa Monica Pier is a beautiful setting for such a stark demonstration of the effects of war. A visitor is struck by the sheer number of dead: each white cross represents one death. Recently a section of red crosses has been added: each red cross represents 10 deaths. The red segment is growing.

(What is not shared is the "body count" of dead Iraqi and Afghans in this war. These numbers are "unknown" although there are at least three studies conducted by reputable academic institutions presenting their finding. All are far above what our former president shrugged off as "about 30,000"....)

Veterans for Peace sponsors this project and many other groups help as, each Sunday, the area honors the dead by erecting all the crosses at dawn then taking them down at sunset. This has been going on faithfully for several years.

I added the names of Karen Meredith's son, Lt. Ken Ballard, Nadia McCaffrey's son, Patrick McCaffrey, and Mary Tillman's son, Pat Tillman. Each of these woman had to toil long and hard to learn the actual circumstances of their children's deaths. For Mary Tillman, the work took many bizarre turns as then Sec Def Rumsfeld lied about the circumstances to propagandize for the war. Mary wrote the book, Boots on the Ground at Dusk: My Tribute to Pat Tillman. (See pix at the blog photo gallery.)

I also remembered the name of the captain of my son's unit who was killed by a new fangled IED in Iraq in September 2008. I did not share that name there as I'm not sure how his parents and family might feel about me, a stranger, sharing their beloved child's name at Arlington West. Nevertheless, that young man's name is seared on my memory as it is, I'm sure, seared onto my own child's memory.

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