Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

FACT CHECK; Peace Group Memorializes Killed Veterans on Beaches FACT: The Temporary Display Began as Protest against the Iraq War

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

FACT CHECK; Peace Group Memorializes Killed Veterans on Beaches FACT: The Temporary Display Began as Protest against the Iraq War

Article excerpt

Byline: CAROLE FADER

A Times-Union reader wants to know:

I RECEIVED AN E-MAIL ABOUT A VETERANS GROUP THAT PUTS UP CROSSES ON THE BEACH IN SANTA BARBARA, CALIF., FOR EVERY AMERICAN KILLED IN IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN. THE E-MAIL SAYS THE GROUP PUTS UP THE CROSSES AND TAKES THEM DOWN EVERY SINGLE WEEKEND. CAN THIS BE TRUE?

Yes, it is true.

In fact, there are two such memorials, one on the Santa Barbara beach and the other on the Santa Monica beach, near the famous pier. Collectively, they are called Arlington West, after Arlington National Cemetery outside of Washington, D.C.

The memorials are projects of Veterans for Peace, a national organization founded in 1985 whose goal is to raise public awareness of the consequences of war and to find peaceful alternatives, according to the group's website. It is not part of the U.S. government.

The memorials are erected by each city's Veterans for Peace chapter every Sunday about 6 a.m. and taken down at sunset. Volunteers put up and take down thousands of crosses, as well as assemble flag-draped coffins for those who died within the past week.

They also archive the mementos that are left by families and friends. Setup typically takes about four hours as crosses are set out in even, straight rows, the website says, while the takedown takes about three hours with about 15 volunteers.

Veterans for Peace states that crosses were chosen for their simplicity, not because of any religious connotation, according to the website. The memorials also contain markers that represent other faiths.

The memorials include pillars that list the service member's name, age, rank, branch of service, unit, hometown and date, place and circumstance of death.

Arlington West began as a protest against the Iraq war, according to the Veterans for Peace website.

Outraged that the media was barred from photographing returning coffins containing the war dead from Iraq, Veterans for Peace member Stephen Sherrill and other local activists erected 340 wooden crosses on the Santa Barbara beach on Sunday, Nov. …

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