Veterans for Peace plan November Memorial Mile
The Madison Times
By Paul McMahon, Madison Veterans for Peace
The Madison chapter of Veterans for Peace (VFP) is once again planning for Veterans Day week in November. The public is urged to attend VFP's Memorial Mile events, which encourage greater movement toward ending the war in Iraq and emphasizing policies of strong diplomacy in international relations within the family of nations. To that end, on Saturday, Nov. 8, some 4,700 tombstones will be erected along Speedway Road in Forest Hill Cemetery on Madison's near west side.
After two successful, well-attended displays of the Memorial Mile at Olbrich Park, the VFP chapter requested and received permission from the Madison Parks Commission to move the Memorial Mile to a new location on the near west side. Forest Hill Cemetery, along Speedway Road between West High School and Glenway Golf Course, is a dignified and appropriate location for the Mile. It is the resting place for literally hundreds of Union and Confederate soldiers, as well as veterans who served in the Spanish-American War, World Wars I and II, Korea, Vietnam, and the first Gulf War. It is the site of annual Memorial Day ceremonies respecting the sacrifices of so many Americans.
The public is invited to help install the Mile on Saturday, Nov. 8, starting at 9 a.m. and also to help uninstall the headstones on the following Saturday, Nov. 15. Last May, thousands of passers-by viewed the Memorial Mile during the week at Olbrich Park, and comparable numbers are likely this November at Forest Hill.
The Mile may be visited any time, day or night, Nov. 8 to 15. Visitors can enter at either end of the cemetery, near West High or off Glenway Street, and park along the internal cemetery roads. Walk quietly among the stones; leave flowers if you wish.
The sobering, respectful display symbolizes the deaths of nearly 4,200 U.S. service personnel in Iraq and nearly 500 in Afghanistan. Over 35,000 Americans have been seriously wounded in Iraq. To date, 95 Wisconsin soldiers, symbolized by the small Wisconsin flags on scattered headstones, have died.
VFP members and volunteers will be available as often as possible throughout the week to answer questions, listen, and share thoughts. The message of the Memorial Mile is: Mourn the Dead, Heal the Wounded, End the War.
Sunday, Nov. 9, at 2 p.m.
A one-hour memorial ceremony will be held Sunday, Nov. 9, at 2 p.m. at the west end of the Memorial Mile. Those attending are welcome to park on the cemetery roads on that end. Featured speakers will include the Rev. David Couper, Iraq War veterans Fran Weidenhoeft and Nate Toth of Iraq Veterans Against the War, and Vietnam veteran Wil Williams. At the end, bagpipe music will accompany the reading of the names of the 95 Wisconsin Iraq and Afghanistan war dead. VFP board member Frank Court will emcee.
VFP is a national organization dedicated to peace. VFP members, who have dutifully served their nation, affirm a greater responsibility to serve the cause of world peace. They state that in a global community of finite resources, national cooperation and political negotiation must replace armed conflicts, and military spending must be supplanted by greater investment in peaceful endeavors. To date, nearly $600 billion has been spent on or committed to the War in Iraq.
VFP members John Fournelle and Richard Chamberlin are co-chairs of the event. To volunteer to help with setup, e-mail Fournelle at email@example.com. For more information about VFP or the event, call Paul McMahon at 233-1997, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.