[HCCN] R. McCall letter: acres of little white flags

Judith Robbins judy at robbinsandrobbins.com
Sat Mar 26 10:38:20 EDT 2011

>  Published this week in The Weekly Packet
> On Memorial Day Weekend of 2005, Peninsula Peace and Justice in  
> Blue Hill created a memorial field of flags on Rufus Wanning’s  
> property next to the Congregational Church.  On that Saturday  
> around 20 volunteers from the area spent close to four hours  
> placing 1,657 small white flags in the ground, each one  
> representing a US soldier killed in Iraq.  When it was done,  
> everyone stared in utter silence at the newly mowed green, now  
> marked with straight, parallel rows of little white flags  
> fluttering in a warm spring breeze.  The painted wood sign in the  
> field read ”Remembering those killed in Iraq”  1,657 US soldiers,  
> 27,560 Iraqi civilians.
> That was six years ago, when the flags covered barely half the  
> field.  As of last week, on the 8th anniversary of the Iraq  
> invasion, there have been 4,440 US soldiers killed there, 1,505 in  
> Afghanistan, and civilian deaths of well over a million.  Over the  
> years, as the field has filled, many people have been deeply moved  
> to look at the rows of flags and see what a number looks like.   
> 1657 . . . 2225 . . . 3600 . . . We hear the numbers but until we  
> see them, as we saw the 50,000 names on the granite wall of the  
> Vietnam Memorial, we can miss their full meaning.
> The current total figure of US soldiers from both wars has called  
> for more white flags than this field can hold, and one can only  
> imagine how much larger it would need to be, or how large to  
> include the gravely wounded, or every haunted and homeless veteran.  
> Modern warfare, even with that tragic toll, takes its heaviest one  
> from civilians, and there may be no field big enough to show us  
> what those numbers look like---more than a million markers for  
> innocent men, women and children.
> Meanwhile, with no one in the former Administration yet held  
> accountable for an invasion that is now widely understood to have  
> been based on lies, and a new Administration escalating war efforts  
> in Afghanistan, the numbers still rise. The painted white sign in  
> the memorial field now shows that 5,945 US soldiers have been  
> killed so far in both wars.  We can fill that small field with as  
> many flags as it can hold, but the rest we will have to hold in our  
> minds, acres and acres of little white flags.
> Rebecca McCall
> Blue Hill

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