Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Arlington West: The Makeshift Memorial in Santa Monica

A project of the group Veterans for Peace, a group of volunteers erect Arlington West, a temporary memorial designed to honor U.S. troops who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan, every Sunday next to the Santa Monica Pier.

Sadly, the toll has risen so high that Arlington West has had to start erecting red crosses, which count for 10 deaths each, instead of the usual one for every fatality. Volunteers also lay flags over makeshift coffins to signify troops killed in the line of duty over the past week; on the week ending this Sunday, 12 people had died.

The exhibit notes that a similar memorial for all Iraqis and Afghans who have died in the wars would cover the entire beach.

The Arlington West display goes up from sunrise to sundown every Sunday.

More info from the Arlington West website:

To take in the full expanse of crosses, one stands breathless at the enormity of what one sees. Each cross, carefully positioned in the sand with a uniformity appropriate a memorial for this purpose, represents all American military personnel who've lost their lives in the US war and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. Upon deeper reflection, Arlington West also powerfully represents the path our country has embarked upon.

When one visits the Arlington West Memorial at Santa Monica, one will see mementos placed on some of the crosses, many with fresh cut flowers. Arlington West also represents those who've lost their loved one or close friend.

In celebration of their lives, family and close friends of the fallen write their own heartfelt words and dedicate these to their loved one. A gold star is placed by us on dedications made by those who are family. Those dedications made by a friend or those who served along side an individual, will have a silver star placed on their dedication.

Veterans For Peace and dedicated volunteers of Arlington West are careful stewards of these dedications and currently maintain an archive of over 1600 such mementos.

The group is always in need of volunteers to help lay out the display, starting up at 6 a.m.

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