You are herecontent / Desecration of the Dead

Desecration of the Dead


By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Perspective
Tuesday 16 August 2005

His name is Larry Northern, and he is a wretch.

The Arlington West cemetery has been growing for more than a year. Begun in California by activists seeking to honor those soldiers killed in Iraq, and also seeking to highlight in an unavoidably searing way the price we are paying for the invasion of Iraq, the cemetery is made up of small grave markers made of simple wood. There are crosses, and crescents, and stars of David. Each one represents a dead American soldier.

When word got out that the mother of a fallen soldier had camped herself out in front of the Bush "ranch" in Crawford with a demand to see the president, the Arlington West cemetery was packed up and sent to Texas. This was no small job, as there are now nearly 2,000 grave markers - each bearing a name - that make up the cemetery.

I was in Crawford last week when Arlington West arrived, and I watched as the demonstrators prepared it. The land available to the protesters in Crawford is essentially little more than a series of long, narrow, muddy ditches by the sides of the road. The grave markers were set up along the entire length of the road leading to the site.

This was no mean, haphazard setup. I watched family members of fallen soldiers take tape measures to carefully map out plots of land, making sure each cross was given its own respectful distance from the others. The assembly of Arlington West in Crawford took more than a full day, and was done under the glare of the hot Texas sun. By the end, the cemetery stretched the better part of a mile down the road, each marker bearing a name.

Some markers were surrounded by flowers and American flags. The flowers were placed there by loving relatives of that soldier, relatives who came to Crawford to stand in solidarity with Cindy Sheehan and the other military families, relatives who want to know why their loved ones were spent by the man who would not come out to speak with them.

Some time around 10:00 p.m. on Monday night, Larry Northern of Waco, Texas, drove his pickup truck down to the Crawford protest site. He got out, went around back to the tailgate, and attached a pipe and a chain to the rear of the truck. He got back in and proceeded to drive his truck through the Arlington West cemetery, grinding and smashing through the grave markers. Five hundred of them were knocked down, and 100 of them were totally destroyed.

The harassment of the activists in Crawford has been growing by the day. Last Thursday, I watched a guy on a motorcycle, wrapped from head to boot in black leather and helmet, with a Rebel flag handkerchief tied around his neck, roar into camp and yell something at the people setting up the grave markers before fleeing down the road. That morning, a caravan of Secret Service SUVs blasted through camp at high speed, leaning on their horns the whole way. One local guy in a pickup truck roared down the road and sideswiped a parked car, narrowly missing a couple of people. And then, of course, there was Larry Mattlage, who got sauced on Keystone beer before firing his shotgun into the air a few times near the demonstration.

One could say this is to be expected. Cindy Sheehan and the military families who have joined her have touched a raw nerve among the slowly dwindling ranks of Bush supporters. They are angry, and more than a little scared of the fact that one grieving mother has managed to throw a couple of torpedoes into the side of their battleship.

But the Arlington West cemetery is something else entirely. Truthout reporter Scott Galindez was on the scene after the attack. "Respect for this country's dead is not a partisan issue," he wrote afterwards. "Putting up memorials of our country's fallen is not a 'liberal' act. It is an American act. Even a group of counter-protestors from Dallas last week draped flags and flowers over many of the gravemarkers, and many were moved to tears at the sight of the long line of dead soldiers. It's too bad that someone else who disagrees with Cindy felt they needed to wipe out the memory of our fallen in such an obscene manner."

"Obscene" is the proper word. Among the comments from Bush supporters that have appeared on a variety of forums and blogs, many have taken the line that Casey Sheehan would be appalled at what his mother is doing to his memory. Leave aside for a moment the audacity of those who think they'd know the mind of a man more than his own mother, and focus on this bit about desecrating his memory: A Bush supporter drove a truck through a line of grave markers with the names of dead American soldiers inscribed on them. It is difficult to imagine a more profound desecration. Once upon a time, soldiers returning from Vietnam were spit on. Larry Northern spit on our soldiers when he did this thing. Period.

Mr. Northern was arrested and charged with criminal mischief. Some have argued in the aftermath of the attack that he should be charged with a hate crime. However that shakes out, it was hate that motivated him. His hate was so strong that it motivated him to destroy crosses and stars and crescents bearing the names of soldiers he almost certainly has said he "stands for."

A man who owns property near Bush's "ranch," and right across the street from his church, has offered the protesters an acre of his land for their campsite. This was welcome news, because the county commissioner was preparing to hold a vote on closing Prairie Chapel Road and evicting the demonstrators. "We can fit more people and we will be closer to the ranch," reported Cindy Sheehan after this offer was made. "Miracles, miracles."

They are out of the ditch now, and will shortly rebuild the Arlington West cemetery. They will do so with love and respect. The memorial will be safe from hatred and attack. The vigil goes on.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
William Rivers Pitt is a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of two books: War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know and The Greatest Sedition Is Silence.

LINK TO ORIGINAL

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

I'm not surprised by this latest act of violence, but I am ashamed that even now, no one from the Bush Crime Family and their minion have spoken out about this act of hate. Where are all of those hypocrits, all of those girly men who hide behind their sick beliefs, their ultra-rightwing hate. Pathetic, that's what they are, ignorant to the core. Our troops will really feel good about this, attacking a mother of one of their own comrades who died for his defense of his country's misplaced policies is one thing and bad enough, but to destroy a memorial for the close to 2,000 men and women who have died on the ground in Iraq (and those thousands who's deaths were never counted in the actual combat deaths because they didn't actually die on Iraqi soil) wins the prize. We peace mongers will not be stopped by insane actions like this. But where are the voices of the Pres., Chaney, Rumsfeld, even Colin Powell and the generals of the armies of our country. Where is the voice of the homeland security. Why are they so silent? Shame on them. Where are the voices of the politicians, both republican and democratic who say they support the troops.
Yes, we truth seekers and peace mongers know what they are all interested in. Those who pretend to care while encouraging their slimey followers to acts of destruction. Where is John McCain, John Keary, Condalisa Rice, where are the noble congress members who talk about supporting the troops yet hide once the troops are dead. Where are all of the right to lifer's who weep for a frozen embrio but care nothing for the spilling of so much blood from the one live young men and women who's deaths are so disrespected. and they say that we don't support the troops, wwe are the traitors, what a joke, except it isn't funny, not any more.
Cindy, and all of the rest of you brave folks who are trying to speak to your president, I love you all and thank you for all that you are doing. And you all know as well as I do that the president just wants to get on with his life, ride his tricycle up and down hills and wait for photo ops to show that he is a wartime president, a big, bad, macho girly man.

Send Cindy Home!!! Her son chose the Army!!! And, he was killed by a terrorist!!! The noble cause in Iraq is to make living safer and better for people in Iraq, America, and around the world!!!

I do not like being a broken record but here I go again replying to yet another Mr. X.

Whoever you are, so brave in you blissful annonymity, maybe you have the answer to just what the "noble cause" actually is. Your post makes a lame effort at it but falls miserably short of a satisfactory answer. Nobody in Iraq or America is any safer now than we were before the invasion. OBL, (do YOU remember him?) is still on the loose! He was the guy responsible for 9/11/01 and Saddam and he hated each other, so don't give us that refuted excuse.

No, Mr. X (#whatever), we are not afraid of your toothless ranting and raving. Anyone can rant and rave in blissful annonymity like you and the rest of your fellow Mr. X's. This site lets you do so, unlike your favorite counterparts on the right which feed your lust for hate.

Now, go to the fridge, get a couple of cold Lone Stars or Coors Lights or whatever your "medicine" is and go back to your mind numbing Fox Propaganda Channel nightly dose of hate.

Ecellent, excellent response!!!!!!!!!!!

I am not hiding my name, you want to have words with me?

Here is the fact of the matter: You HATE the fact that the war is going well. You only see what the LEFTY media tells you. You are SHEEP to the leftist media. Talk to every soldier about how things are going in Iraq and THEN come talk your BS. The fact is that you won't be able to. You HATE the fact that Clinton took the same info to the country and Kerry and Kennedy were all on board in 1998 but the pu$$y Clinton didn't have the balls to pull the trigger. You HATE that Able Danger is going to show that the Clinton Admin was responsible for 9-11. You HATE Bush because he is a Republican and he is correct for going to war. You HATE, you HATE, you HATE, and you HATE some more. It is no reason you got slaughtered in 2004.

You like to talk with big words and say that Bush is a moron and that is where your propaganda stops. Where is Clinton speaking up to stop this war???? Where is Kerry with all of his ways to stop our dependence on foreign oil? Where are all the liberal politicians doing anything they talked about during the Elections???? They are no where to be found but now you have this Sheehan lady to ride her coat tails to try and use the ONLY parent of a fallen soldier that now opposes the war to make your weak case.

So Richard J. Schaedler, I am Richard that will drink his glass of wine and go word for word with you anyday, anytime. The left has no answer for anything. But Bush is a moron right!? HAHAHAHA!!!!!

On this planet most believe the "noble cause" in Iraq is a propaganda term that is empty and devoid of true feeling. It shouldn't be used in the context of of the military men and women who have given their lives or have been wounded. Are we safer? Read the news. A training camp of al Qaida was just disrupted. All of this time and effort we've put into an unnecessary war and al Qaida is still operating. Cindy Sheehan is not the problem, your president is.

Hey anounimouse...You've certainly swallowed the Admin line hook line and sinker. Cindy will go home when your idiot president meets with her and answers her questions. Until then she will stay and probably go to the White House. Maybe you should drive to Crawford or at least post here the reasons for the "noble cause" and how we are safer. Do you even know what a terriorist is? Probably not! You just hide behind your announimouse post just like Little Georgie hides from Cindy. Your President doesn't have the balls to talk to her and furthermore she would rip him a new asshole since in a live debate with her or even in private he probably couldn't read the teleprompter fast enough. Face it announimouse your man is going down and you know it. But rather than admit it like a man (or mouse) you attack a woman who has lost her son. Did you cheer when Larry ran over the crosses? If you are so patrotic then come out from hiding go to your Army recruiter and go to Iraq to fight your"noble cause". When you come home in a body bag see if anyone grieves for you!! WE STAND WITH CINDY WHO DO YOU STAND WITH?

I was kinda hoping that everyone (including you, "yours truly", if it is you) might have better sense than to post such stale RNC/Rove talking points in response to this subject. The issue in this case is simply respect for the dead and common decency.

In any case, the fact is that the majority of the people themselves (both Americans amd Iraqis) know very well that Bush's international policies and actions have made their lives LESS safe, not more so. As for a "better life", even if we leave the human toll aside, gas prices are up in America and the electrity and water problems in many parts of Iraq are worse than they were when Hussein was in power.

If this is Bush/Cheney's version of victory, let us all pray most fervently for deliverance from defeat at their hands.

Cindy stay right where you are. With your help we can get rid of our own American Terrorist that parades around as (P)resident.

If the cause is so noble why couldn't the Iraqi's complete their constitution on time? Why can't the Iraqi's start doing their own fighting? A country cannot be force fed another countries ideals.

Bring our soldiers and Marines home now.

Cindy do as bush has asked and "stay the course."

Who, exactly, are you telling to "Send Cindy Home"? Cindy and her supporters can't be 'sent' home by anyone. Perhaps this concept is too abstract for you to grasp?

And yes, her son chose the Army. As with all our our soldiers, he chose to defend the United States against attacks. But the Iraqis didn't attack us, did they? And there were no weapons of mass destruction, were there? And Iraq had posed no threat whatsoever to the US, did it? But the US dropped thousands of tons of bombs on innocent civilians, destroyed there schools, hospitals, farms, power and water supplies, then imprisoned thousands of innocent people and then tortured many of them. Oh, and these are the "terrorists".

By the way, as a person that has no personal stake whatsoever in the losses endured by Cindy, our soldiers or the Iraqi people, your opinion of what constitutes "living safer and better" is decidedly worthless.

Iraq is now a better and safer place for the people of Iraq? Jesus H. Christ! What planet are you on? What have you been smoking? Can you read English, or any other language known on Earth? Education is a dangerous thing, try it sometime.

Hey anounimouse...You've certainly swallowed the Admin line hook line and sinker. Cindy will go home when your idiot president meets with her and answers her questions. Until then she will stay and probably go to the White House. Maybe you should drive to Crawford or at least post here the reasons for the "noble cause" and how we are safer. Do you even know what a terriorist is? Probably not! You just hide behind your announimouse post just like Little Georgie hides from Cindy. Your President doesn't have the balls to talk to her and furthermore she would rip him a new asshole since in a live debate with her or even in private he probably couldn't read the teleprompter fast enough. Face it announimouse your man is going down and you know it. But rather than admit it like a man (or mouse) you attack a woman who has lost her son. Did you cheer when Larry ran over the crosses? If you are so patrotic then come out from hiding go to your Army recruiter and go to Iraq to fight your"noble cause". When you come home in a body bag see if anyone grieves for you!! WE STAND WITH CINDY WHO DO YOU STAND WITH?

As I read about the behaviors that are occuring as a result of a protest against the war (It's not really about Cindy Sheehan) I am struck by the total emptyness of character. The Fox news people like carnie barker O'Reilly and the Ashcrofts and the Cheneys and the Roves and the Bush's have encouraged a mentality in this country that is narrow minded and mean spirited. People like the guy who trashed the crosses don't think they vote as they are told. I'm tired of being held hostage by this mentality.

Then said Jesus, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." Luke 23:34
Let us all pray for this man ...who ran over the crosses.

Most of you super liberals are a disgrace to the premise of what America was, is and will be to future generations... assuming there will BE future generations. We are in a death-grasp with crazy zealots that want us all dead. ALL of us. Stop fighting? And we all die.

These people don't care if one soldier dies for to them we are all soldiers. They indiscriminately murder thousands and think nothing of it because they think we are evil. You can whine and try to make deals but in the end, they will attempt to divide us, getting us to fight each other as they are actually doing, so that they can win.

I am surprised that AMERICA has already forgotten what happened almost 4 years ago, and how we pledged to eradicate the scourge.

Duhh, do ya think we can save ALL of us? No. It is nice to hear that some Iraqis are happy for freedom because of soldiers that came to stop attacks on our soil. It is good that we are the backbone of the mushy world, a world that remains fickle and unappreciative for our continued sacrifice and support. I am talking about Italy and France primarily but there are other countries that have not pitched in too, like Nigeria, whose oil profits have come with the help of the US government, of which WE are.

Don't lose sight of the BIG PICTURE.

We prefer that there be no wars. We prefer that we all appreciate the planet and each other and live our lives, enjoying the beauty of the world that God, Allah, or Yaweh created. What's in a name?

To many, EVERYTHING. That's the problem right there. To me, God's name could be Ronald Jones. To you it might be Allah or Jesus. The fact that it makes no difference to me, certainly not enough to fight or war over doesn't change the fact that you might be willing to kill me because of this point. It's the same crazy problem all over the world with issues that are no less frivolous. And so, while parents and relatives grieve over the losses of their kin and loved ones because of THIS war, instead of bitching and begging that we withdraw, they need to appreciate WHY we are there and reflect on what dynamics GOT US TO THIS POINT.

I am the ONLY one? No. I am the majority.

The news media does their polls and being that it is conjunctively liberal, it lies about what WE want. Yes, I want OUT of any war. Yes I wish the crazies would wake up and lay down their arms, but... I can't find my Genie.

I have had good friends and relatives killed in wars. I personally have been involved in fighting the Drug war in America as law enforcement. I volunteered, as did Cindy's son and I knew the risks, risks that still can haunt me even this day, some 25 years later.

I know that for many of you, whose minds are already made up, who are entrenched in your convictions and who never voted for the best president we have ever had in MY lifetime and who I voted for, will not want to even read beyond this, but that's your problem. I love this country, I want us to continue to champion freedom and to appreciate the freedom that that Iraqi woman appreciated enough to drive a thousand miles to display.

It's a true disgrace and lack of respect to bring crap to the leader of our nation's home.

S H A M E O N Y O U

Your lack of factual accuracy alone destroys your argument without even needing to examine the logical fallicies.

Iraqis had nothing whatever to do with what happened "almost 4 years ago". Even GWB admits that. The commonality of Italy and France is only that they're both in Europe. Italy's leadership supported Bush's "shock and awe" invasion; France didn't.

But I'm sure you're not really interested in the truth or you'd make some small effort to educate yourself before spouting off on a subject about which you obviously know nothing. So enjoy your blissful ignorance while you can.

The only fact that you present is that Italy was on our side. Nice research!!!!

The left needs to become more educated before spouting off about a war they have no desire to learn about. You were all the isolationists that wanted to leave Hitler alone...No wonder why all liberals are pansies.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Support WarIsACrime



Donate.








Tweet your Congress critters here.


Advertise on this site!




Facebook      Twitter





Our Stores:























Movie Memorabilia.



The log-in box below is only for bloggers. Nobody else will be able to log in because we have not figured out how to stop voluminous spam ruining the site. If you would like us to have the resources to figure that out please donate. If you would like to receive occasional emails please sign up. If you would like to be a blogger here please send your resume.
CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Image CAPTCHA
Enter the characters shown in the image.