Archive for the ‘Help’ Category

Labor Day, Day Labor

September 11, 2009

The Iraq Names Project flows with a continuous line. The names are written chronologically. Often where a name falls will take on added meaning. Casey Sheehan’s name fell at Peace Park, just happened that way.

Labor Day 2009 the project just happened to be at the Day Labor site on NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd & NE Lloyd Ave.

Nancy will be out of town and unable to chalk Monday September 14th.


October 23, 2007

This is Clint chalking in the damp early morning darkness. Clint created the Iraq Names Project MAP for the us and often joins Nancy to help chalk. Follow this link for lots more photos.

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?


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

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.

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.

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.

Girl Scouts

June 12, 2007

On Memorial Day a group of Girl Scouts stopped to chalk in some names. Thanks to Sanny for sending this photo.