Monday, May 30, 2011
SAN DIEGO The retired Midway aircraft carrier, docked in San Diego Bay, looks down on a grassy park along Harbor Drive. And today the view included a symbolic graveyard put up by the San Diego Chapter of Veterans for Peace.
Memorial Day honors the dead, and that’s what this group was doing. But their message of peace was a little different from what you might normally hear. Barry Ladendorf is president of the local chapter and he served in the Navy during the Vietnam War. He said it’s time for America to stop fighting the war in Afghanistan.
“The way to honor our veterans on Memorial Day is to bring them home,” he said.
Veterans for Peace set up a temporary mock cemetery they call “Arlington West.” Six thousand crosses represented the Americans who died over the past 10 years in Iraq and Afghanistan. Sixty-seven tombstones represented the people from San Diego County who have died in those two wars.
Maurice Martin is an army veteran who said most of the members of Veterans for Peace in San Diego are combat veterans.
“Once you’ve been in combat you figure there’s got to be a better way than this,” said Martin.
Another member of the group, Nathan Murphy, served two terms in Iraq as a Marine Corps reservist. He said it’s hard to talk about his service, or describe what it was like.
“There were definitely a lot of terrifying and horrible experiences that I had there. And I really wouldn’t wish that on anyone,” he said.
Ladendorf said Veterans for Peace wants the President to set a timeline for pulling troops out of Afghanistan. The group expected to be out all day, this Memorial Day, to promote their message of peace.
They weren’t the only veterans marking Memorial Day alongside the Midway. A group of Vietnamese war veterans, who fought with the Americans in Vietnam, posed for pictures in the park by huddling around a bunch of tiny American flags.