Monday, September 26, 2005

Young AFSC EWO Peacemakers on Public Radio

WBEZ, Chicago Public Radio, featured two young people working on Eyes Wide Open. Erin assists local EWO sites with media and Megan has helped organize and itinerate Eyes Wide Open -- Illinois.

You can hear how their lives have been changed by the war and their peace work at WBEZ;s special series of War Stories entitled Young Peacemakers from September 22.

Erin pictured at right.

Message of Thanks from Lancaster

"The exhibition was so moving, I found it hard to converse with the living, when surrounded by the presence of so many who had died. With an event like this, I come away having received so much more than I could ever give. "

More Franklin and Marshall Photos

Aerial shot of the Memorial in Lancaster.

Franklin & Marshall College

Thousands of people flocked to Eyes Wide Open in Lancaster, PA last weekend. Many people from the demonstration in Washington D.C. stopped by on their way home. It was even visited by hot air balloons that came down very low for a good look at the field of boots and labyrinth of shoes, representing Iraqis killed in the war.

The university had special Iraq studies going on the week before we arrived. They also brought a cherry picker over to get some aerial shots.

The security guards at the college volunteered their time watching the memorial overnight so that it would not have to be taken down and set up each day. College officials were totally supportive during the whole weekend and did a wonderful job organizing the whole venue.

The U.S. death toll is now at 1,918 and the 26-foot truck carrying EWO around the country is packed to the gills.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Eyes Wide Open Permanent Display

Thanks to the creativity of some local peace activists in Highland Park, IL just north of Chicago, the Eyes Wide Open Memorial has been made into a semi-permanent display.

For a month the display has been in a downtown park area. It consists of 27 pairs of boots at different levels -- each boot representing a different state or U.S. territory. Behind the boots are two panels of names of the fallen. On the floor of the display are shoes representing the Iraqi dead.

Each week for four weeks the ;pcal peace activisits have read the names of the newly fallen and added them to the display. In the month the memorial was displayed, they added 47 new names.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Lessons from New Orleans

The lessons that this nation can learn from the New Orleans tragedy are legion. One certainly is that a nation, no matter how wealthy, cannot spend $200 billion to prosecute a war half a world away, without contributing to the suffering and dying of its own people at home. According to the national Priorities Project, the state of Louisiana has siphoned off over $1.7 billion of its own federal taxpayer dollars for the war in Iraq. New Orleans alone anted up over $170 million. That would have bought a lot of rebuilt levees, rented fleets of buses for the evacuation of the most vulnerable and still would have left funds for an emergency communications system. See National Priorities Project Site

Louisiana had 3,000 National Guard members deployed in Iraq and unavailable for duty during the flooding. That state has lost 22 National Guard members in the war, nearly ten percent of the national total of Guard losses. None of them were available to help when the floods came.

In Des Moines last July, the Eyes Wide Open -- National Guard Memorial was present at the National Governor's Conference. The governor's officially commented that they were concerned about the deployment of National Guard troops in Iraq when they were needed for disaster relief at home. It seems that the president did not hear them.

Johns Hopkins University

In last week's edition of the Balitimore Sun, columnist Michael Olesker speaks of Eyes Wide Open turning the grassy area "into a kind of spiritual graveyard..."

Of the shoes representing the Iraqis he writes:
"On one pair of shoes, a tag says, 'First niece of Rabah Hassan. Age. 2.' On another: '15th family member of Malik al-Kharbit family. Age unknown.' On a pair of little sneakers: 'Tabarek Talab. 4 months.' In another spot, there are a dozen pairs of shoes from the same family."

And, row after row after row, there are the American boots. In front of one pair, a man kneels on the grass with his arms around his little boy. Near another, a woman stands with her hands folded in prayer. A couple hold hands, looking slightly awe-struck. And still the roll call of the dead goes on.

John Dornheim, the chaplain at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center says,
"This is a holy place. The spirits of these people are with us, and we need to end this thing. If Iraq needs military support, it should be a U.N. force, not us. This is not about lack of support for our troops, it's about a government policy that put us in Iraq, and told us we were there to defend the U.S. And knew that a segment of the population would go along with that."

Today we just passed 1900 U.S. military casualties. The reading of the U.S. and Iraqi dead now take over 4 hours.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Baltimore and 9/11

Eyes Wide Open appeared at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore over the anniversary of September 11th. With the help of the organization September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, the memorial remembered the Iraqi civilians and U.S. military personnel killed in the Iraq War.

The Peaceful Tomorrows folks are relatives of those killed in the World Trade Center and Pentagon tragedies. But they are totally against the war in Afghanistan and Iraq. They do not believe in vengeance and killing more innocent civilians in retaliation for 9/11.

Johns Hopkins is also a perfect location because its School of Public Health issued a report last December concluding that 100,000 additional deaths of Iraqis occurred due to the war. That is, of course, over 30 times the number of deaths that this nation suffered on 9/11 in a country 1/12 the size of the U.S. And their 9/11 is not one day, but continues now.

For more Baltimore photos.