Monday, May 28, 2012


This afternoon, TWT, The Wife, The Child, and The Dog parked at Chinese Reconciliation Park at one end of Tacoma's Ruston Way Waterfront and lazily strolled down to Cummings Park.  We stopped at points in between—Jack Hyde Park, Dickman Mill Park, Marine Park, and a nondescript picnic table along the water for the lunch we packed along.  Our goal, however, was to see the traveling memorial to the U.S. soldiers killed during the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts.  It is known as Arlington Northwest Memorial, is presented by Veterans for Peace, and we've seen it before when it was set up in Olympia on a larger scale.

Today's installation included more than 2,000 "headstones" representing actual soldiers killed while serving in one of the United States armed forces, most of them in Iraq, some in Afghanistan.  A few coalition forces were also represented.  Some headstones were marked with ribbons to alert viewers that they were soldiers who hailed from Washington state towns and cities or were based at Joint Base Lewis McChord.  Needless to say, it is something that caused me to pause and reflect upon those who gave their lives for our country.  Some were my age.  Some were young enough to have been my children, if I got started right away.  Many were in between.


Arlington Northwest Memorial has a different power than Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.  They both honor war dead, but in a different way.  Arlington National Cemetery honors those who served their country, whether their death occurred as a soldier or after they died later in life.  Arlington Northwest Memorial honors those who died fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan.  It makes one question the cost of overseeing and "managing" conflicts in countries half a world away.


Many of the headstones carry information written in the handwriting of family members or friends, or messages from them.  Some of the markers were obviously visited earlier by loved ones who left flowers or flags.

1st Lt. Forrest P. Ewens of Spokane, WA died 6.16.06 in Peeh River Valley, Afghanistan—by roadside bomb, leading his men. He was well loved.

Army Sgt. 1st Class Brian A. Mack, age 36, Phoenix, Arizona died January 13, 2005, IED in Mosul. Known as Daddy Mack for his mentoring skills. Leaves a widow & teen daughter.


These soldiers died defending the values of our great nation, although even in death there is debate as to what those values look like and whether or not we should be in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Army Cpl. Donald E. Fisher, II, age 21, Tacoma, Washington, died November 11, 2006 near Kirkut, convoy vehicle collision. Committed to the American war effort.

Pfc Devon J. Gibbons, Port Orchard WA. We honor you & pray the killing will end!


So, on this day, Memorial Day 2012, we remember those who died serving their country, even as we pray for peace and an end to war.

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