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BayCitizen: Crosses of Lafayette Oct 23, 2010

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  • Michael E. Kerr
    Local Intelligence Crosses of Lafayette Adithya Sambamurthy/The Bay Citizen Crosses on a hill represent American service members killed in combat in Iraq and
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 25, 2010
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      Local Intelligence

      Crosses of Lafayette

      Adithya Sambamurthy/The Bay Citizen

      Crosses on a hill represent American service members killed in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.

      By HANK PELLISSIER
      Published: October 23, 2010

       

       
      The Crosses of Lafayette project was started almost four years ago by Jeff Heaton, a local building contractor, to recognize American service members who were killed in Iraq. The white markers of the antiwar site dot the hillside and are easily viewed from Highway 24.
      The Bay Citizen

      A nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization providing local coverage of the San Francisco Bay Area for The New York Times. To join the conversation about this article, go to baycitizen.org.

      Adithya Sambamurthy/The Bay Citizen

      Volunteer Bob Hanson applies a fresh coat of paint to a cross at the Lafayette Hillside Memorial.

       

      HANK PELLISSIER
      Peaceful Pals
       
      The Mount Diablo Peace and Justice Center, Grandparents for Peace and the Lamorinda Peace and Justice Group joined Mr. Heaton to support the project. Volunteers erected 300 crosses on Veterans Day in 2006, and by Feb. 26, 2007, there were more than 2,000. The site is the property of Louise Clark, 85.
      Local Outrage
      Bryan Welden of the Lafayette Flag Brigade, a community group that supports United States military members returning from tours of duty, opposes the project, which Mr. Welden called an Al Qaeda scoreboard that is very negative, it sends a message that we are being defeated. Mr. Welden characterized the volunteers as anti-military, anti-American, Jane Fonda types.”
      Secret Attack
      Vandals removed the first 15 crosses. Later, Jean Bonadio, a retired Marine sergeant, publicly dismantled the sign at the site that lists the number of deaths. Two mosaic crosses by Connie English, an artist, disappeared in 2007 and were discovered a year later, smashed.
      Cemetery Symbols
      Service members who were Buddhist, Islamic, Pagan, or Jewish are noted by stakes topped with dharma wheels, crescent moons, pentacles or the Star of David. The hillside also contains tiny crosses, which indicate child victims, and atomic symbols, which mark the deaths of United States service members and Iraqi citizens from depleted uranium.
      Steady Visitors
      Silent meditation and prayer is held at the crosses the first Sunday of every month at 9:30 a.m. At 10 a.m., volunteers arrive to maintain the site: weeding, repairing and adding new crosses.
      Unknown Soldiers
      Originally, only Iraq war deaths were included on the hillside. But after parents and friends of service members who died in Afghanistan asked project organizers to commemorate their loved ones, 600 crosses were added. Mr. Heaton said that no one knows exactly how many crosses are currently on the hill.
      The General's City
      Lafayette is named after Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de La Fayette, a wealthy French general who fought in the American Revolutionary War, donated financial support and encouraged France's participation.
      hpellissier@...
      A version of this article appeared in print on October 24, 2010, on page A31B of the National edition.

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