Archive for August, 2007

Missing Mt Suribachi

August 24, 2007

Matt Stubbs saw Nancy drawing in front of his friend’s house last Sunday. He was so moved that he gave her one of his prints called Missing Mt Suribachi. Trading a piece of his art for her art. His print combines two of the most iconic images from two very different American wars. The raising of the flag at Iwo Jima and prisoners at Abu Ghraib.

5 Marines and a Navy corpsman raised the flag on Mt Suribachi on the island of Iwo Jima February 23rd 1945. The following imformation largely comes from the Iwo Jima web site (much of the info is verbatim from the site).

Mike Strank was born in Jarabenia, Czechoslovakia in 1919. He died on Iwo Jima in 1945. He was the leader and Sargent of the flag raisers. Mike explained to the boys that the larger flag had to be raised so that “every Marine on this cruddy island can see it.” It was Mike who gave the orders to find a pole, attach the flag and “put’er up!” He was a witness to the 1936 Johnstown PA flood. He was a leader who was always looking out for his “boys” and always ready to lend a helping hand. Two months before the battle Mike’s Captain tried to promote him but Mike turned it down flat: “I trained those boys and I’m going to be with them in battle,” he said.

Harlon Block was born in Yorktown Texas 1924, he died on Iwo Jima 1945. When Sargent Strank was killed Harlon took over command. He was killed hours later. He excelled at athletics and as a Marine. Strangely the US Government misidentified him when the photo was published. His mother immediately recognized her son, “I know my boy” she said. No one seemed to believe her. It took a congressional investigation 18 months to prove her right.

Franklin Sousley was born in Hilltop Kentucky 1925, he died on Iwo Jima in 1945. A hunter and dancer he was raised by a single mom. In a letter home he wrote “Mother, you said you were sick. I want you to stay in out of that field and look real pretty when I come home. You can grow a crop of tobacco every summer, but I sure as hell can’t grow another mother like you.”

Ira Hayes was born in 1923 in Sacaton Arizona, he died in Arizona in 1955. He may be the most famous of the flag raisers due to the song by Pete LaFarge popularized by Pete Seeger and John Cash.

When Ira learned that President Roosevelt wanted him and the other survivors to come back to the US to raise money on the 7th Bond Tour, he was horrified. To Ira, the heroes of Iwo Jima, those deserving honor, were his “good buddies” who died there. At the White House, President Truman told Ira, “You are an American hero.” But Ira didn’t feel pride. As he later lamented, “How could I feel like a hero when only five men in my platoon of 45 survived, when only 27 men in my company of 250 managed to escape death or injury?”

The Bond Tour was an ordeal for Ira. He couldn’t understand or accept the adulation . . . “It was supposed to be soft duty, but I couldn’t take it. Everywhere we went people shoved drinks in our hands and said ‘You’re a Hero!’ We knew we hadn’t done that much but you couldn’t tell them that.” Ira returned to the reservation but was not able cope with what he had gone through. Today we would say he had post traumatic stress syndrome. He tried to live anonymously but, as he said “…people would drive through the reservation, walk up to me and ask, ‘Are you the Indian who raised the flag on Iwo Jima”. He was 32 when he died.

Rene Gagnon was born Manchester New Hampshire 1925, he died there in 1979. Like Franklin Sousley he was raised by a single mom. He also showed symptoms of PTSD. He was unable to hold a job and died a broken man at age 54.

John Bradley was born in Antigo Wisconsin 1923 and died in 1994. He was a Navy Corpsman who saw the flag raising and joined in to lend a hand. Unlike Ira and Rene he lived a successful life, was married for 47 years and raised 8 Children. Of his service he said “People refer to us as heroes–I personally don’t look at it that way. I just think that I happened to be at a certain place at a certain time and anybody on that island could have been in there–and we certainly weren’t heroes–and I speak for the rest of them as well. That’s the way they thought of themselves also.”

One in three US soldiers was killed or wounded at Iwo Jima. 6,825 American soldiers were killed. Virtually all 22,000 Japanese perished. I recently met a survivor of the battle of Guadalcanal.  I thanked him for his service. He deflected the thanks saying “When I served everyone served”. Not only was the draft universal but those who were too young, too old, too lame or too female also served. They collected scrap metal, worked in defense plants, entertained troops, watched the sky and sea for enemy invasion. Who among us today is serving? Besides the family of those in the military who suffers?

Sacrifice

August 22, 2007

Harrison Meyer was a life guard at home in Worthington Ohio and a Medic in the Army. He was killed Nov 26th 2004. He was 20 years old and hoping to go to medical school so he could continue helping people. “He exemplifies the true spirit of patriotism and sacrifice by his courageous actions as a combat medic,” His mother Debra Meyer said in a statement released by the military.

Salamo J. Tuialuuluu was 23 when he was killed Dec 4th 2004. He was from Pago Pago American Samoa and served in the US Army. born in the village of Tau in the Manua island group. He is missed by his parents, his wife Andrea who was pregnant at the time of his death, two daughters; Sunema 6 and Eseta 8 months, and four sisters, including Falesoa Tuialuuluu, a U.S. Army sergeant.

Michael R. Cohen 23, of Jacobus PA, died November 22nd 2004. He loved a challenge, excelling at advance placement classes in high school and later in Marine training. He wanted to settle in Hawaii where he had been stationed. It was his goal to have his sister join him in Hawaii and to study medicine together to become either a nurse or medical technician.

VIDEO!

August 19, 2007

Wow! Aundre has made a great video.

Nancy was drawing in front of his house today. Aundre came out to see the project. He was so moved he made a short video, edited it and put it up on youtube.com.

Thank you Aundre. Thanks also to all the good neighbors who stopped and said hello and those who got down on the sidewalk and helped. The names I remember are Nikki, Laura, Nick, Megan, Theo and Dante. Nancy tells me there were a few more neighbors on Prescott who joined in while I wasn’t there and also Garage Sale Guy.

The Map!

August 18, 2007

Our good friend Clint has made a map of where the Iraq Names Project has been.

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We met Clint when Nancy started drawing in the Eliot Neighborhood. He has joined us many weekday mornings and on the weekends too. He registered the iraqnamesproject.org domain for the blog. He is also trying to produce a short video showing the work. Thank you Clint!

Sunday August 12

August 13, 2007

 

We emerged from Two Plum Park onto NE 7th Ave heading north.  We are zigzagging through the neighborhoods towards Alberta.  We are currently on the corner of NE 8th & Skidmore. 

This week’s schedule:

Monday – Friday 7:15 – 8:15

Saturday & Sunday 11:00 – 5:00

Thanks to all the great volunteers and well wishers this past weekend – Dan, Pete, Nancy, Tina, Kathy, Holly, Mark, Mike, and Sonia.

Hiroshima Day

August 7, 2007

On the anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima Japan artist Nancy Hiss draws the word PEACE in 3 languages. Tomorrow she will resume writing the names of Soldiers who have died in Iraq.

See more photos from the day and past days on the photos page.

Fort Myers Florida Police Stop Local Names Project

August 3, 2007

Our friend Willie Filkowski in Fort Myers Florida has been writing the names of soldiers who died in Iraq and Afghanistan on the sidewalks of Ft Myers since July 1st. He was inspired by Nancy Hiss’ Iraq Names Project and wanted to do something where he lived. And so he has. Until July 30th.

On Monday he was stopped by the police. They told him what he was doing was graffiti and he would need to get a permit from the city if he wanted to continue. The city manager has already said that if Willie applies for a permit it will be denied.

The News-Press has done a good story on this bold 15 year old and his attempt to get the city council to ok his memorial.

Nancy has also been told by Tri-Met and City of Portland Park Rangers that her work is graffiti. I am here to tell you it is not.

The first amendment to the Constitution Of The United States Of America clearly states that the government shall make no laws abridging the freedom of speech. Graffiti laws are only constitutional to the degree that they prohibit the destruction of property. There is no destruction of property when you write with chalk. It is that simple.

Willie and Nancy are artists creating a public memorial on public property. Their expression of free speech does not destroy property, block the movement of traffic or pedestrians or in any other way cause a disturbance.

The legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, Randall Marshall,  said “The city is treading on thin ice,”. 

Dennis B. Morgan

August 2, 2007

Dennis Morgan was 22 when he was killed, April 17th 2004. He had lived in Valentine, Nebraska but was a member of the South Dakota National Guard. He was recently married and planning to attend mechanics school, a reflection of his love of cars and motorcycles.

 Nancy wrote his name weeks ago on NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. While all the other names on that stretch of MLK have long been washed away by the weather, Morgan has remained for weeks.  Morgan remains protected by the awning in front of the closed American State Bank.

American State Bank was the oldest African American owned bank in the state of Oregon.

Next to the bank is the Gladys Sims McCoy Memorial Park.  Gladys McCoy (1928-1993) is remembered fondly by Oregonians who remember her many years of service. She joined the Portland Public School Board member in 1966 (or 1970 depending on the source) and was instrumental in desegregating Portland’s schools. She was County Commissioner from 1979, and County Chair from 1986. She served on many boards and commissions. and worked hard for Head Start, schools and the community.