Archive for September, 2007

Women and Sacrifice

September 9, 2007

 Nancy notes women who have died in Iraq by adding the female symbol after their name. August 8th was National Night Out. Nancy celebrated by going down to Martin Luther King Jr Blvd and drawing the names of those killed in Iraq. She started where she had left off that morning. She was writing the names of those who had died in June of 2005. 


Holly A. Charette, of Rhode Island, was 21 when she was killed. Jaime Caniglia was on the cheerleading squad with Charette in high school and worked with her at the local CVS store before Charette joined the Marines. “She was an awesome, awesome girl. She was always ready to help anyone out.” Caniglia said of her old teammate and co-worker.

Regina R. Clark, of Centralia Washington, was 43 when she was killed. A Desert Storm veteran, she was on her third deployment to Iraq. Clark was born in Germany into a Navy family. She went to college on a softball scholarship and played on her employer’s, Fuller’s Market, softball team in Centralia.


Ramona M. Valdez, of The Bronx, was 20 when she was killed. She planned to become a police officer after leaving the Marines. She is survived by her mother and sister who she lived with along with her 2 year old twin boys.

 National Night Out grew out of Take Back The Night. One of the first modern Take Back The Night rally and protest was held in San Francisco in 1978. The march protested rape and violence against women and was designed to make the streets safe for women both during the day and at night. It was chilling that Nancy would have to draw so many women’s names on National Night Out.

Military rules do not allow women to serve in combat roles. The nature of the Iraq war has forced many women into combat situations. About 88 women have died in Iraq. While the nature of the insurgence has placed many women in combat roles, the decisions of the civilian leadership in Washington also plays a major role in placing women in combat. We simply to do not have enough trained combat troops to occupy and pacify Iraq. Women, reserves, national guard and private contractors are being asked to fill the gaps with repeated and extended deployment.

A Missive From Nancy

September 9, 2007

The most common response is, “Thank you.”

Then people say, “I hope it doesn’t rain” 

On September 2nd Nancy Hiss wrote:

On Memorial Day of this year, I knelt down in front of the Edith Green Wendell Wyatt Federal Building and wrote March 21, 2003 in chalk. As I was writing two guards walked out and watched over me. When I finished they asked, “March 21? What is that?” I responded, “That was the first day that a soldier died in the Iraq war.” I handed them a written description of the project and they walked away.

Then I wrote; Aubin, Beaupre, Cecil, Childers, Evans, Gutierrez and on and on. To date, I have written 2,445 names covering over 6 miles. The Iraq Names Project is a memorial, a demonstration, a personal cleansing; it is an act to honor sacrifice and to recognize interdependence.

The concept is so simple it can be explained by a five -year old. The act is so simple it can be shared by Girl Scouts, eighty year old women, students, friends, neighbors, passersby, draft age boys, survivors of Nazi Germany, veterans, everyone. Over 100 people have knelt down with me on the sidewalk to share in this experience. Some people chalk in one name. Some people come back week after week.

People are drawn to the aesthetic of the beautifully drawn names. Many are amazed that it spans 6 miles and I am only on March 2006. Many say that it is powerful. Some are moved to tears. Some stop to tell stories.

One young man asked what I was doing. “I’m writing the names of the U.S. and international coalition forces who have died in Iraq.” He responded “You just wrote my name, Rivers.” There was a long silence while the hairs stood up on the back of my neck. “I’m glad it’s not you.” “Yea, me too.” Names are very powerful. Dates are very powerful.

Only last names are written to acknowledge the loss, not just of individuals, but of families. Oregonians are written in white, all other names are written in colors. It is neutral. It is inclusive. It is a way to share in sacrifice. It is an act of peacemaking.

When it rains the names and dates are washed away, symbolic that these people are gone.

Thank you.