Every Sunday, from sunrise to sunset, a group called Veterans for Peace puts small white wooden crosses into the sand on the beach in Santa Monica, CA. Each cross represents a soldier’s life lost in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
They call it Arlington West.
Years ago, when I first witnessed this solemn display, the crosses numbered in the hundreds. Today, there are crosses and Stars of David and Islamic crescents to represent the 6,447 fallen American servicemen who have given their lives in service to our county.
When the memorial began in 2003, Veterans for Peace would place one cross in the sand for each servicemen killed. As the numbers of lives lost has grown over the years, there are now an inceasing number of red crosses — each representing 10 lost American soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines.
It’s an incongruous sight, this makeshift, ever-growing military memorial in the shadow of Santa Monica Pier and it’s bustling carnival atmosphere, surrounded by surfers, swimmers and other sun worshippers. But it’s a necessary reminder of supreme sacrifices made on the other side of the world – far, far away from the pleasures of the Pier and the fun in the sun of Santa Monica Bay.
And Arlington West does just that.
Take a moment to ponder the following photos.