War Dead Project

My aunt Michelle writes:

My husband Bob, who is an artist, a poet, a veteran, a registered Republican and something of a nut, decided last spring that he wanted to create something that would express his deep feelings about the Iraq war. Starting in August he began to write, with a black sharpie, the names of the more than 4,000 soldiers who were killed in the war. He pasted the names written on wallpaper liner to the wall in front of our house which faces the Pacific ocean and a busy pedestrian walk. Above the list he wrote: “These Are the Brave Men and Women Our Government Sent to Die in Iraq.” It took about a month to complete the project and he added a statement at the end of the list. As more die he adds their names to the list.

He placed a spiral notebook near the project and urged people to write down their reactions and thoughts. Passing walkers from several countries and varied political persuasions have left dozens of their ideas in the notebook.

[From War Dead Project]

Robert Contemplative
[a photo I took of Bob last summer, somewhere off the coast of Alaska]

If you don’t get a chance to stroll by, reflect, and add your own comments, here is Bob’s statement:

Dear Neighbors,I honor these dead, the over 30,000 American wounded, and the hundreds of thousands who have served during this war. A veteran myself I understand some of their sacrifice, and understand that U.S. Troops do not choose their missions. The government chooses the war, and we the people choose the government.

These deaths are doubly sad because in Iraq our government ordered an attack, invasion and now occupation against the will of its people*of a country smaller than California* which did not threaten us, did not attack us,* and was an enemy of both Iran and Al Qaeda. this war insults our American tradition that every nation (starting with our own, in 1776) has the right to choose its own government, a tradition which has made us a beacon for freedom. We do not bully small nations. We justly act when strong nations – Nazi German, the USSR and Iraq in 1991 for examples – invade weaker ones.

Yes, al Qaeda earned our wrath on 9/11. Iraq, though, had nothing to do with 9/11,* yet we spill our soldier’s blood and rain terror in Iraq. Terror? Consider: our war (not our troops, but our war) has killed over 87,000 Iraqi civilians,* meaning that, per capital, it has killed more Iraqi civilians every week for 5 years than we lost on 9/11. * Whether you call that “shock and awe” or terrorism, it is unworthy of America.This doesn’t diminish the valor of our men and women. They have properly done their duty to follow the orders of the government we elected. But if we support freedom, if we support America’s principles, we will now do our duty and choose a government that will end this war without pursuing a “victory” which could further disgrace us by killing or cowing those Iraqis who don’t support the government George Bush or John McCain* impose.On November 4, please vote to save our lives, our treasure and our sacred honor by demanding an end to this immoral war.

* You can check these facts. See the “Sources and Calculations” page in the comments book (see below)

*”over 30,000 american wounded”: see . the names on the wall are only of the dead, but their numbers match the official ones.
*”against the will of its people”: see reporting several polls over a long time for the BBC, ABC and other. This March’s, for example, showed 72% of all Iraqis (including Kurds) oppose continued occupation and 61% think our forces make their country less secure.

*”smaller than California”: See CIA Fact Book (you can google it) The CIA estimates Iraq’s present population at 28,221,180. California’s in 2000 was over33,000,000 and has grown since.
*”didn’t attack us”: See The 9/11 Commission, at “A Pentagon Study of 600,000 Iraqi Documents Finds No Link Between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein.”

President Bush also acknowledged this:

“Q What did Iraq have to do with that?

THE PRESIDENT: What did Iraq have to do with what?

Q The attack on the World Trade Center?

THE PRESIDENT: Nothing except for it’ part of —and nobody has ever suggested in this administration that Saddam Hussein ordered the attack. Iraq was a—the lesson of September the 11th is, take threats before they fully materialize, Ken. Nobody has even suggested that the attacks of September the 11th were ordered by Iraq.”

*”starting with our own,in 1776”: see the Declaration of Independence
*”We were so menaced on 9/11 but not by Iraq.” See “didn’t attack us”, above
*Over 87,000 Iraqi civilians”: See This is a very conservative number. Most estimates are much higher, but iraqbodycount.org does not do estimates at all. It only counts verifiable violent deaths of noncombatants that are reported in the press or official reports, and cross checks those.
*”per capita, our war has killed more Iraqi civilians every week for five years than we lost on 9/11.” Here’s the calculation: On the five-year anniversary of our attack, March 20, 2008, the numbers were: The U.S. population was 301,139,947 (source CIA factbook). 2998 people (including military but not the terrorists) died in the 9/11 attacks (source Wikipedia), or .000996% of our population.Iraq’s population was 27,499,638 (source CIA factbook). (Those population numbers have grown slightly since then, in both countries). At that time, iraqbodycount had counted 81,874 Iraqi civilians killed. that’s .2977% of their population. Divide that by 5 years and again by 52 weeks per year and you bet .001145%, a greater per capita loss each week that we suffered on 9/11. Since March 18, over 5,000 more civilians have been killed, so if you repeat the math using today’s numbers you’ll find we have now inflicted a 9/11 a week for nearly 5 and a half year.
*”victory…John McCain”: See where Senator McCain clarifies his “100 years” in Iraq statements to the effect that he would be in favor of continuing to occupy Iraq that long, though he does not favor 100 years of American losses. See also Senator McCain’s web site,
*”our lives, our treasure and our sacred honor”: See the Declaration of Independence.

Michelle has been typing up people’s handwritten comments to the War Dead Project, and adding them to the blog. Check it out.

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