Anti-war group's Memorial Day display highlights 'true cost' of war
For a local group of anti-war veterans, Memorial Day is an opportunity to show what they say is the true cost of war: misery and death.
Hundreds of miniature headstones dotted the lawn outside the USS Midway Museum Monday as crowds flocked to the museum and the vendors along the adjacent boardwalk.
The pop-up "Hometown Arlington West Memorial" has become a semiannual event for the San Diego chapter of Veterans for Peace.
"One of our tenets is to show the real cost of war," said David Patterson, a Vietnam veteran who served in the Air Force.
Patterson has volunteered with the organization for 20 years, he said. What started as a smaller memorial on a beach in 2004 has grown now into this — the lawn outside the museum cluttered with small tombstones noting the names and hometowns of those killed.
Among the white markers are several painted black without names. Those, Patterson said, represent veterans who've died by suicide. He said it's important to help people understand that the dying doesn't only happen overseas.
"We're telling people ,'This is the cost of war,'" Patterson said. "What we get from war is misery, death and, of course, the military industrial complex, which has wonderful profits.”
Unlike during the Vietnam War, in which more than 2 million Americans were drafted into service, Patterson said, people are more disconnected from today's all-volunteer military.
"People are isolated from the cost of war," he said.
The organization also displays the memorial at the museum on Veterans Day.