acres of little white flags


> 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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