Archive for the ‘Veterans’ Category

CNN Reports on the Iraq Names Project

March 12, 2013

CNN International is preparing for the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War. They have asked Nancy to share the Iraq Names Project with their web viewers. You can see it here:

Veterans For Peace

February 11, 2009

Nancy has returned to chalking on Monday mornings, 7:15am ish.
She is currently on NE Holladay near 5th Ave.

Tonight February 10th she will be presenting the Iraq Names Project at the Veterans For Peace Monthly meeting. (How is that for short notice?)
7 PM, at the First Unitarian Church, 1011 SW 12th Ave.

The Veterans For Peace includes men and women veterans of all eras and duty stations including the current Iraq war as well as other conflicts. Their collective experience tells us wars are easy to start and hard to stop and that those hurt are often the innocent. Thus, other means of problem solving are necessary.

The Portland Chapter created and maintains Peace Memorial Park on the East side of the Steel Bridge.

Veteran Mike Kennedy chalks his family name.

Iraq Names Project and Nordstroms

July 3, 2008

Ceasar, whose brother is currently deployed in iraq, colors in a name out side of Nordstroms, May 6th 2008.

Caesar helps color in a name out side or Nordstrom, May 6th.

I wanted to write about somethings that happened a few months back. In May Nancy was drawing every morning, first down NE Broadway, then down NE 10th to the Lloyd Center. We met many great people along the away. We got a thank you from soldiers assigned to the Armed Services Recruiting Station on NE Broadway. On 10th we met Caesar, who joined Nancy every weekday morning for a week or 2. Caesar’s brother is deployed in Iraq, and he was thankful for a chance to remember those who had been there.

I was not surprised that when Nancy got to the Lloyd Center she was closely scrutinized by the Lloyd security. In fact they called the police the first day she was on the sidewalk around the center. The officer who came, like all others Nancy has met in the last year, thanked her for her good work. The officers I have talked to are also veterans and supportive of the project. As long as Nancy is on the public sidewalk she has the green light from the City of Portland to continue.

All went fine until Nancy was along side the Nordstrom at the Lloyd Center. Every morning Nancy would draw the names of those who had died. Every night Nordstrom would wash them off. So Nancy went in one morning to let them know what she was doing and ask them not to wash off the names. She was met by security. Security quickly told her they knew who she was and what she was doing. When she asked them about washing off the sidewalk she was told she had to leave the premises.

Nancy was more than a little peeved.

Then we started hearing from the family of PFC Aaron J. Ward.
Aaron was killed in Iraq on May 6th.
He was 19.
His was the 4,385 name Nancy wrote.
His family was bothered that Nordstrom would wash off the names. So they contacted Nordstrom. All a big misunderstanding according to Store Administrator Kryn Scoggins; “I hope you will accept our sincerest apologies for missing the relevance of the project; we would never intentionally insult such a beautiful and important acknowledgement of our national heroes.” By that time we were past Nordstrom and there was nothing more to be done. Last week Aaron’s name was still lightly legible over near Stanfords. Faded by time and weather and traffic. But never forgotten.

On July 4th Nancy will draw on NE Multnomah, by Holladay Park near NE 13th.
She will start at 9am.
Please come join her.

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?

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.

Homeless Veterans

June 3, 2007

We have met many wonderful people while writing names. Many people stop to thank Nancy, or ask what she is doing. Many of the most appreciative people are veterans. Even on Memorial Day many vets let us know how much they appreciated someone remembering them and those who have died.  

The man who Nancy is listening to above was telling us about veterans and homelessness. He said that 20% of the homeless are veterans. There are 15,000 homeless veterans on the West Coast. No wonder veterans are so happy to see someone care. As a society we have done very little caring for veterans. 

My research so far is showing that some of these numbers might be low. 15,000 – 24,000 homeless veterans in LA CA! 23% of homeless population are veterans. 33% of male homeless population are veterans.

Here are some more #s I have found:

The VA estimates that nationally, almost 300,000 vets are homeless on any given night and more than 500,000 will experience homelessness over the course of the year.

Locally, the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans estimates that there are almost 8,500 homeless vets in Oregon. Due to the concentration of services, a high percentage of those individuals reside in the Portland metro area.

Each year, 2.3 million to 3.5 million people experience homelessness in America. By taking 23% of that range for veterans, that would indicate there are between 529,000 and 840,000 veterans who are homeless at some time during the year.