Friday, December 01, 2006

Crosses of Lafayette: Sgt. Patrick R. McCaffrey, Sr.

Michael Moore has a post by Nadia McCaffrey who spoke out at the Lafayette Town Hall meeting held Monday, November 27. Her son, Patrick R. McCaffrey was killed in Iraq in 2004 and she gave a touching speech in favor of keeping the crosses and the sign:
Growing up in the province of Auvergne into the heart of Lafayette’s country, approximately fifty miles from the Marquis de Lafayette’s castle, I never thought then, that I would become a “French-American Gold Star Mother.”

Since my son’s was murdered by the Iraqi soldiers and officers he was training, I have become a passionate advocate -- some forty years after leaving my country of birth -- defending freedom of speech, working for Peace and Justice and human rights. I have become an activist.

I live in Tracy, California (population 80,000) and I am the only out-spoken Gold Star parent against the Iraq war. The city has lost 6 soldiers since the beginning of this illegal conflict. Four days ago, I received a phone call from Robert Manning, a veteran and a friend, saying that we needed to be at a meeting to be held at town hall in Lafayette on Monday, November 27 at 7:00pm. Robert Manning also mentioned that I had to get in touch with Mr. and Mrs. Clark, they own the land where the memorial is now standing... but not yet completed.

The memorial is set up on a hill-side looking out at the freeway. It is a busy part of Lafayette and the project is sort of awakening the sleepy little town, giving it a twist of reality. A large board telling the daily number of our war-dead is surrounded by a multitude of white crosses, a modest memorial to honor our soldiers. The memorial was created by Jeff Heaton, a life-long resident of Lafayette, eager to show and remind to everyone of our children dying in Iraq for unknown reasons.

I was asked by the Clarks to support the Memorial’s endangered existence. Before joining Louise Clark, 81 years old, and her husband, 85 years old, for dinner at their home, I read and talked to people about it and decided to act immediately. I was not about to let them face such controversy alone.

I contacted some of the television news-stations, radios and newspapers to join the 7:00pm meeting. I also called people I know in the San Francisco area including a friend and a Gold Star dad, Patrick Sheehan, who does not live too far from Lafayette.

They all came, people came from everywhere. The nation, on Monday night was focused on the city of Lafayette to the surprise of its residents. Many people spoke on Monday night, military families mostly against the project, calling the memorial a sham, objections came on the ground that "it’s making some people uncomfortable", "it’s a constant reminder of the war"...

A while back, the city asked Mr. and Mrs. Clark to take the sign down. Neither the Clarks nor Jeff Heaton are willing to do that. It supposedly is too large according to the city ordinance... true, but there are several other outstanding signs on the same road... no one seems to object to that!

So, there are some solutions of course. The site is comprised of two lots. Therefore two signs can stand next to each other, other options are being considered. The city of Lafayette also asked them to pay a fee of $4,000. The reason for it is unclear. This has now apparently changed; no decisions have been made yet. I have committed myself to the project, and will help with it the best way that I can. Jeff needs as many volunteers as possible to keep up with the orderly maintenance, and allow the project to grow, so the city can be proud of it.

Getting involved is one way to raise awareness within the community.

In Peaceful Service,
Nadia McCaffrey

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