January 7, 2007
The Long Island Advance
This was written by me and published in the LIA as a news story. I've added an additional comment in blue.
“Not One More Death, Not One More Dollar,” were the words sent out last week by the Long Island peace groups in order to invite others to mourn with them the 3,000 men and women of U.S. Armed Forces, who have died in Iraq since the beginning of the war.
Last Saturday, as dusk slowly blanketed Long Island, a candlelight vigil was held from 4:00 to 6:00 PM at the Armed Forces Plaza, outside the H. L. Dennison Building in Hauppauge. The vigil was sponsored by The Long Island Veterans for Peace, Suffolk Peace Network, Pax Christi Long Island, and Code Pink LI, along with other local peace groups.
Memorial vigils and peace rallies are being held across the Nation in order to remember the 3,000 men and women who have died between March 2003 and December 4, 2006, and whose numbers have now exceeded those killed on 9/11.
On a hillside in upstate New York a women plants small yellow flags that can be seen by passing cars, each one symbolizing a lost life. The women of Code Pink Long Island write those names on pink ribbons and tie them all together. 3,000 is just a number, until one actually sees in a concrete way, what 3,000 really looks like.
“We felt it was essential to have a memorial for the 3,000 who have died in Iraq in this so called war on terror,” said Thomas Brinson, a Viet Nam war veteran and head of The Long Island Veterans for Peace, Chapter 138. “It’s a sad benchmark in this illegal, inhumane and unnecessary war.” Brinson also said that many believe "One man's terrorist, is another's freedom fighter." I had never quite looked at it that way and think there might be some validity to that statement.
Standing along the inner edge of the plaza were the women of Code Pink. Code Pink is an International grassroots organization of women who want peace, with 250 Chapters in the United States and Europe. “The name Code Pink is taken from the color code alerts that are used by the government when terror warnings are posted,” said Loretta Gallion of Hauppauge. Gallion was there with women from East Meadow, Holbrook, Melville, Huntington and Syosset. “We march in parades, wear pink feathered boas, and do banner drops from highway
overpasses, anything to call attention to who we are,” Gallion added. It was two members of this organization who spent months writing the names and ages of all who have died, on the pink ribbons used at this memorial. “If we don’t stand out, we don’t get seen,” said Judi Gardner, a member of the group. The women of this chapter of Code Pink will join others in Washington D.C. on January 27th in order to participate in a much larger peace rally that will be held there.
“We want to call attention to all who have died in Iraq,” said Veronica Fellerath, a member of Pax Christi who lives in Bay Shore. “I don’t think more killing is the answer. We need to find a peaceful solution and as soon as possible,” she added.
“This event is a testament to our commitment to change course in Iraq. We believe not one more Iraqi or U. S. soldier should be killed; not one more U. S. dollar should be spent sustaining war and occupation. Instead of adding more troops to Iraq, the U. S. should focus on diplomatic efforts and Iraqi-led reconstruction of their country,” said Sheila Croke, a Pax Christi member.
The air was warm and balmy as evening descended and the vigil began. There was no speech making and there were no politicians. All one could hear was the rustling of the 3,000 pink ribbons, each with a name and age on it, as the wind blew around them. All these ribbons, tied to a strand of rope that was hung from tree to tree around the Armed Forces Plaza.....and it was as if each and every one of the dead were there, silently watching as the peace groups circled the area with their signs and flags. Little by little their circle became larger and extended out, past the perimeter of the plaza and onto the grassy area between it, and Veteran’s Memorial Highway. Some stood along the road, candles lit, signs with the words “How Many More,” “3,000 + US Dead,” and “660,000 Iraqi Dead,” while passing cars sounded their horns, lending support as they drove by.
The young, the old and those in between, all solemnly marking the passing of this number to the beating of a drum, the wail of a bagpipe and the sound that could be heard above all else, the whispering in the breeze of the 3,000 pink ribbons. Ribbons with the names, James W. Cawley, age 41; Roderick A. Solomon, age 33; Patrick R. Nixon, age 31; Brian Rory Buesing, age 20; Eric Orlowski; age 26, Luis A. Perez, age 19; Tyler Prewitt, age 22; Mark P. Phelan, age 44; Omead Razani, age 19; and so many more, written upon them.
(It's too bad I can't post a picture of those ribbons....they were so very powerful.)