Thursday, February 17, 2005

Arlington West

On the beach, next to the pier sits a memorial to the fallen service members of the Iraqi War. This is the first photo of a small photo essay I took on Sunday, January 30th, 2005. I have no intention of getting into a debate about the war, its justification or its need. Having served in the Navy for six years myself, I found myself drawn to the memorial thinking of these men and women and what they had sacrificed.

Paper was available to compose messages to the fallen. Rubber bands secured the notes to the crosses and each note looked to be lovingly composed. Photos adorned some of the crosses and I saw one bible adorning another one. The Star of David was included as was the moon. I am assuming that the moon represented the Muslim religion but I can't be sure and I haven't had the time to research it.
I can't help but think of these men and women on a daily basis and the makeshift crosses reminded me that each day many of them are entering into dangerous and life threatening situations. I don't doubt that many of them believe in what they are doing. Some of them entered the service prior to 9/11 and may have looked upon it as a job, an opportunity to get an education or experience for the world beyond the military. These are the people I identify with the most. The military provided me with this exact thing and I,ve been out long enough to have forgotten how badly I wanted to get out once my hitch was up.

The day was sobering and a reminder of the cost of war. I saw several reminders that these casualties of war are not the only ones to suffer. I saw several family members place placards and flowers beside a marker. But the most heartfelt thing I witnessed that day was a young man that placed a flower next to each cross. With a gentleness that belied his size, he placed a flower next to each cross, carefully covering them with sand. His quiet action was reverent and peaceful. It was a moving tribute to the fallen.

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