Archive for June, 2007

Making Friends With Tri-Met

June 29, 2007

On Tuesday Nancy was drawing at the Blazer Arena Max stop. A Tri-Met worker told her she had to stop. Since she had finished for the day she said OK. He immediately proceded to wash the names away. The next morning Nancy was back. Mike K and I were there too. Again a Tri-Met worker told us to stop. We declined and he said we would be cited and fined and he was calling the police. Instead of the police his superviosor showed up and said “good work”. He asked Nancy not to interfer with Tri-Met operations. Nancy said she wouldn’t. That was yesterday. Today the names were still there and Nancy went back to work with Tri-Met’s blessings. This afternoon it rained, so I guess most were washed away. The work is temporary as are we.

Homeless Veteran Documentary

June 29, 2007

The story of one homeless Iraqi veteran is told in a new movie called When I Came Home. The film tells the story of Herold Noel and his struggles with homelessness, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and his attempts to get help from the Veterans Administration.


June 27, 2007

This project has allowed me to take hundreds of photos. Some of which are very good, I think. Please check my flickr page to see lots more Iraq Names Project and other interesting photos. 




A Rainy Sunday

June 26, 2007

After an amazing Saturday – with friends old and new, Peace Memorial Park, veterans and refugees and milestones – Sunday was very low key and relatively uneventful. Our goal for Sunday was to get to the Convention Center where the Universalist Unitarians where having their National General Assembly. We thought it might be a good mix. Instead the rain slowed things down to a crawl until Nancy decided she could draw no more in these conditions. So today she is still not quite to the East side Max line.

Still there were moments of sunshine and flowers.

Erik stopped by to take some photos. He used to do local news and is now doing photograph and writing a screenplay.

A Fun and Emotional Saturday

June 26, 2007

When I found Nancy Saturday morning Nicky was there helping out. Nicky and her husband had stumbled on the Iraq Names Project a week before and stopped to help. Now she was back for more. Nicky survived Hitler’s Germany. Her brother survived both Hitler and Stalin. Knowing something about the horrors of war she was ready to help.

Our good friend Ned showed up a little later. Ned has military age children.

Here Ned is working on the date March 21st 2004. The first anniversary of the war.

In the background on the left side of the Portland skyline that last pointy building you see is the KOIN Tower which is next to the Federal Building where Nancy Hiss started drawing names back on Memorial Day. She has drawn a continuous line of names 2 miles at this point.

John D Amos II was 22 when he died April 4th 2004. Back in Indiana his mother said he would have loved all the attention he was now getting. In his Letter From Birmingham Jail Martin Luther King quoted the Prophet Amos “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”

We had hoped to be at Peace Memorial Park on 4th of July, but we got there on June 23rd instead. Peace Park is maintained by Veterans For Peace Chapter 72.

Some how it seems fitting that Casey Sheenhan’s name landed right there at Peace Memorial Park. Casey’s mom used to work with a great organization called Gold Star Families For Peace.

Philip Rogers or Gresham Oregon was 19 when he died. He loved to draw, not fight. Like many he joined the Army to get money for college.

These folks did not stick around long enough for me to talk to them. Nancy is talking to a member of Veterans For Peace. With him are his wife (I think) and Zahra Hamid Sultan. Ms Sultan is an Iraqi refugee living in Jordan. She speaks internationally on the blight of the nearly 2 million Iraqi refugees.

A Movement?

June 20, 2007

Do you want to help but you are not in Portland? Why not start an Iraq Names Project in your town? That is what Willie in Fort Myers Florida is hoping to do. He works with an organization called Environmental and Peace Education Center who he hopes to involve. Willie, keep us posted!


June 20, 2007

Many people have offered Nancy cash donations. Nancy’s expenses are moderate. There are others who need the money more. Being on downtown sidewalks we have met many homeless people. Many of them are veterans who are 23% of the homeless and 33% of the male homeless population. The veterans truly appreciate Nancy’s remembrance, as they feel forgotten. There are some great people working to help veterans and homeless people.

Central City Concern is working hard to end homelessness. They provide long term housing, jobs, and drug and alcohol treatment. If you have money to donate you can donate to Central City Concern Work Force Veterans Services.

The Sisters Of The Road bring the philosophy of Dorothy Day and the Catholic Workers to working with the homeless. 

Nancy uses about $20 worth of chalk a week and maybe $20 in printing. If you would like to give a direct donation of chalk or a kinkos card or a gift certificate to a masseuse, chiropractor or Inner City Hot Springs Nancy will give you a big chalky hug.

Bulgarian Sacrifice

June 20, 2007

The Iraq Names Project gives a visual history of the war. We see days where only one or two people died and then days with eight or 12 or 18. Sometimes the names tell a story. December 27th was such a day. 5 Bulgarians died that day.

Yuriy Ivanov of Ustrem was 31 years old when he died. 13 Bulgarians have died in Iraq. Bulgaria sends peacekeepers, medics and rescuers all over the world. Currently 5 Bulgarian medics (nurses) in Lybia are in prison facing a death sentence. The USA no longer considers Lybia and Muammar Gaddafi terrorists.

Solomon C Bangayan from Vermont was 24 when he died. He was buried in his native Philippines. He obtained his permanent residency visa shortly after joining the Army. Just weeks away from the end of his service he was hoping to go to nursing school.

Raphael S. Davis from Mississippi was 24 when he died.

The Honor The Fallen web site of the Military News says: His father, Clifton Bailey, said his son knew God wanted him home.

“He called me on Nov. 16, the day before his birthday,” Bailey said. “He tracked me down until he found me at work. I never heard him sound so happy. He told me he was coming home. We all assumed he meant Tutwiler, but he knew he was going to his heavenly home. He was calling me to say goodbye.”

Sheldon R. Hawk Eagle of Grand Forks North Dakota was 21 years old when he died. A Member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Nation. His parents were dead when he died. He comes from a large family with a long military history. He could trace his heritage to Crazy Horse on his father’s side, and Sitting Bill on his mother’s side.


June 20, 2007

This nice lady stopped to talk. She told me her mom was a founding member of PFLAG. They were living in the middle of Kansas when her brother came out and her mom got together with some parents in NYC she said.

Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays started by accident. “The idea for PFLAG began in 1972 when Jeanne Manford marched with her gay son in New York’s Pride Day parade. After many gay and lesbian people ran up to Jeanne during the parade and begged her to talk to their parents, she decided to begin a support group. The first formal meeting took place in March 1973 at a local church. Approximately 20 people attended.”

PFLAG grew slowly. First separate chapters in NYC and LA. Kansas was one of the first Bible Belt states to have a PFLAG chapter.  I’m guessing that our friends mom started the Kansas chapter. I’d love to hear more.

I saw the start of the Gay Pride Parade Sunday. The parade stated with Veterans for Human Rights providing the color guard. Then Veterans For Peace. Then it was time for me to go help Nancy who was chalking all alone.

Their banner has a quote from George Washington, When we assumed the Soldier we did not lay aside the citizen”. We could use more presidents like him.

Helping Out

June 20, 2007

Our good friends Barb and Dave bicycled downtown Sunday. First they went to the Gay Pride Parade, then they came over to the Steel Bridge to help Nancy chalk. They stayed for several hours. Chalking on the bridge had it’s dangers with constant bike, skateboard, rollerblade and unicycle traffic on a narrow sidewalk over the river.

Dave said of the experience ” Did Christmas day, 2003 — five names that day. The names from a day or two earlier had already largely faded away. Watching people walking by, halting a minute, then slowly moving along studying the names reminded me of the first time I saw the Stonehenge replica/memorial up in the Gorge. It was a beautiful day and I was alone, no one else around. I noticed on one of the stones a name, followed by 1893 – 1917, and I thought, how nice, someone made a contribution in his memory. Then noticed another name, and 1897 – 1915. Then another name, and another. All the stones had names, with dates all more or less the same, and it dawned on me … I stayed there a long time. Peace, David”

Joe took off her rollerblades and pitched in.

This Lake Oswego couple were on an after church Sunday walk when they found us and got down on the sidewalk in their Sunday best to help.

I wish I had gotten every ones names and stories. But we were all more focused on the task at hand, which tends to be emotionally demanding. This couple helped good bit. They also may have been on an after church stroll.

We would like to have you come and help out. Nancy is chalking weekdays early morning 7:15 – 8:15 and mid days on the weekends. She is on the East Side Esplanade heading up the ramp toward the convention center. Next weekend the Universal Unitarians will be having a national meeting at the Convention Center and Nancy will be chalking her way around the Convention Center and back toward Peace Park for the 4th of July.

The Cost In Oregon Lives

June 20, 2007

When Nancy comes upon the name of an Oregonian who has died she spends a little more time. The name is written in white chalk. The soldiers age and hometown are noted and a quote from the soldier or family member or friend is added.

This weekend she had to do the names of 4 Oregonians.

Erik Kesterson was 29 when he died November 15 2003. He had served 8 years in the Marines, but after September 11th he joined the Army. After his death his parents spearheaded a campaign to build an Afghan-Iraq Freedom Memorial. The statue stands today on the Capitol grounds in Salem OR.

2 Oregonians died on December 8th 2003. Joe Blinkenstaff of Corvallis was 23. His brother Erik and sister Suzy are members of Gold Star Families for Peace.

Christopher Rivera-Wesley was 26 when he died December 8th. After graduating from Beaverton High School he went to live with his Grandmother in Guam. She was ill and he was taking care of her. She died while he was in Iraq. “We thought he’d be able to come here and pay his respects to his grandmother,” his uncle Joseph Wesley said from Guam. “He tried to come home, but it didn’t work out. Now this happens and we’re all taking it very hard.”

Nathan Nakis of Albany was 19 when he died December 12th 2003. Nathan had just started studying engineering at OSU when his engineering National Guard unit was called to Iraq. “His heart was different than other people’s hearts,” family friend Mike Janicki said. “Nathan went over there to win the peace.”

Hard Work

June 19, 2007

I have a lot of pictures of Nancy in this position. Chalking names 7 hours a day is hard work. She does it for sacrifice and penance. The soldiers and their families sacrifice everything. The rest of us almost nothing. Nancy wants to share in the sacrifice. Our government is by the people. When our government invades countries by choice not need, when they kidnap people off the streets and send them to be tortured, when they hold people in prison without charges it is us doing these things. We all have sinned. So Nancy does penance.