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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Mall display aims to honor fallen soldiers

    Laura Gelinas, a business freshman and member of the UA Young Democrats, reads the names of soldiers killed in Iraq over a loudspeaker yesterday afternoon on the Alumni Plaza. More than 3,000 American flags representing every American soldiers life lost since 2003 were planted on Heritage Hill.
    Laura Gelinas, a business freshman and member of the UA Young Democrats, reads the names of soldiers killed in Iraq over a loudspeaker yesterday afternoon on the Alumni Plaza. More than 3,000 American flags representing every American soldier’s life lost since 2003 were planted on Heritage Hill.

    Brian K. Grant, 31, Phillip G. West, 19, and George Geer, 27, all have one thing in common.

    In a display yesterday on the UA Mall, their names and the names of more than 3,000 other soldiers who died in the Iraq War were read aloud, accompanied by 3,079 flags, which were placed on the Heritage Hill of the Alumni Plaza to signify the life and death of each person.

    “”We are trying to highlight what 3,079 troops really look like,”” said Paul Metcalf, an economics sophomore and vice president of the UA Young Democrats, who coordinated the event.

    “”You see the statistics in the paper, but there is no personal realization of what that number means,”” Metcalf said.

    “”This attaches a name and age to the members of the military that have died.””

    An Iraqi War veteran who spent seven months on deployment in Iraq with the Marine Corps, Metcalf knows first-hand the effects of war.

    “”Coming back, it’s always in my mind that there are still people over there,”” Metcalf said. “”I can remember the camp and the base, and I know that just because I’m out doesn’t mean the fight is over.””

    In a list that was 67 pages long, each fallen soldier was honored as his or her name and age were read to a crowd of onlookers. The reading took nearly two hours.

    “”It really makes you stop and think,”” said Anna Cavanaugh, a psychology sophomore.

    “”It’s not just a number, and it’s not just a flag. Hearing the names makes you realize that each of these are people, and each flag represents a life.””

    For Cavanaugh, who has lost friends in the Iraq War, the display was somber.

    “”I think it’s sad,”” Cavanaugh said. “”I haven’t seen a display like this specifically for soldiers.””

    As a dozen members of the Young Democrats spent an hour this morning placing each flag in the ground, some said they were surprised at how much space the display took up.

    “”I don’t think any of us realized that we would be able to completely fill the grass,”” said Michael Slugocki, a political science junior and member of the Young Democrats.

    “”You hear the number, but it’s hard to visualize.””

    Although the display did carry a political message against the war in Iraq, Slugocki said it was intended more to raise awareness of the rising death toll and honor those that have lost their lives in fighting.

    “”Each time we put down a flag, we were remembering each soldier,”” Slugocki said. “”It was hard because I realized each time I put one down, I was essentially placing a grave marker.””

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