Monday, November 27, 2006

Lafayette Crosses: A Visitor Reacts

Here is the reaction of Millicent Frastley, visiting Lafayette from LA:
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?

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