War Protest | California | Living in Mexico

War Protest

In Santa Barbara, everybody loves the beach. The clean white sand, the shallow warm water, the palms, the spectacular mountain views—it's the perfect place to kick back and get a little sun.

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Beachgoers are bent on relaxing, playing, having a good time. So what better place than the beach to remind us that there is a war being fought, one in which American teenagers are dying—teenagers who should be sailing these little boats instead.

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A group of Gulf War Vets have built more than 2,000 crosses, each carefully lettered with the name of an American soldier killed in Iraq. They have painstakingly erected the crosses in the sand with names arranged by date of death. A series of signs down one side of the "cemetery" indicate the timeline of the war—a timeline calibrated in deaths.

The first three signs read:

The fall of Baghdad—April 9, 2003
"Major combat operations in Iraq have ended."—May 4, 2003
"Bring 'em on."—July 2, 2003

It all seems so long ago. By the time of "Bring 'em on," fewer than 10% of our casualties had died. We've been at war now for more than three years.

This is a profoundly moving demonstration. The image of all those crosses, of that sandy graveyard, gives the lie to the TV news impression that this is a war of Iraqis bombing one another. We've already lost as many young people as half the freshman class at Stanford University.

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You cannot count the number of crosses by scanning them. Too many to easily enumerate. Rows and rows of crosses lead your eye toward infinity.

And to something else. What is that out there?

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Aah. Not everyone is mourning the dead. Life does go on. Some are still bent on relaxing, playing, having a good time.

Presumably, the soldiers that these crosses represent, died to make this possible.

God help us if they didn't.
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