Tuesday, December 21, 2004

War and Remembrance

I was riding the bus across the Key Bridge when I saw a long string of luminarias along the side of the road. There was a small group of people, some signs, and a large banner which read "Remember the Iraq War Dead." I took some pictures from the top of one of the skywalks; the luminarias marched along the edges of the triangular median, sometimes three or four rows deep.

I asked the people standing among them, who had a table set up with refreshments, what brought this about and was told that it was spontaneous. Which group was behind it? No one, really, just individual members of churches and local peace activist organizations. How long did it take? Only three or so hours to get organized and everything lit up.

Some of the cars honked as they passed. I didn't see any rolled down windows or middle fingers flashed.

What an interesting idea it is, to force people to remember a war while it is ongoing. Before the swords have been beaten back to plows and the soldiers are aging and fading back into a civilian life and death, the front page still has the death toll of soldiers and civilians if the attack is big enough. You can feel it fading under the white noise of non-war life, as Christmas muscled in before Thanksgiving this year and nothing seems to get quite completely done anymore and family is beckoning.

A small group of people never stopped feeling that there was something wrong and that the little brain tic that we can't address has a name. The ill-at-ease, the restless, the mildly depressed have many reasons for feeling as such; the American life is a full one, a sea of somethings and someones that drowns Buddhas and invades nations unbidden for better or worse. A small group of people took a day from their Christmas shopping to remind us that the world doesn't stop at a border. Since this doesn't seem like the sort of thing that will make the paper, here is my journalistic salute to them.


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