Friday, November 04, 2005
On a visit to Arlington at the women's pavilion
The exhibit of Faces of the Fallen will be coming down in a week. It is an art show of images of American military men and women who made "the ultimate sacrifice" in Afghanistan or Iraq before November 11, 2004. The show would be almost twice as big if it included all the military killed up till now. There would not be enough room in the Women's Pavilion to host it.
Looking at these images, you couldn't help but notice loose change (pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters) as well as notes, letters, flags, and photos, placed on space around the soldier's image. Most heartwrenching are the pictures of the fallen soldier's children -- children who will not have the experience of growing up with their parent -- you see here what war does to families.
As I looked at the images, a Pacific Islander (by appearance) woman approached me and said, "You lost a son?" When she said that, I felt my heart move and felt deep sorrow. She told me she lost her son, and she was looking for his image in the show. I told her they were arranged by date killed. She told me he was shot in the head in Iraq in March 2004, but he died in Walter Reed Hospital. She was able to see him before he died, and she seemed grateful for that. He was her youngest child, never married, but had plans to be married when he returned from Iraq. Her sadness was palpable. Her grandson, she said, would be leaving for Iraq in a month or two. Why does she have to sacrifice more than others in our society? What is the sacrifice for? She did not say she understood why he died. She just felt the deep loss of her youngest child.
There is a sameness in feeling when visiting the Vietnam Memorial Wall and visiting the Faces of the Fallen Art Show. Friends and relatives of the fallen soldier leave mementos for the world to know they existed, and people loved them.
The last day for Faces of the Fallen is scheduled for November 11th, 2005. The famililes of the fallen soldiers will get the art images of their fallen soldier when the show breaks up.
For peaceworkers all over the DC area and beyond, the show is an important show to see.
(c) 2005 Nia Shancy
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