Saturday, November 1, 2008

Soldier Prayers 2007

Fallen American Soldiers in the Iraq War

Special Prayer Period for 3,000.

Soldier Basket

The memorial basket filled with names and faces of the 3,000 American soldiers losing their lives in the Iraq War.

A special prayer period of 49 days, started on March 31, 2007 is an offering in hope for soldiers losing their lives in the Iraq War by Sue Yen Sunim. Master Dae San also performed a special prayer for the soldiers. A large basket, filled with 3,000 soldier's names and faces originally printed by the New York Times, was on display in Dae Yen Sa's temple for a limited time. This visual adds a solemn depth and disturbing breadth to the subject, looking "face to face" with high personal losses in a relatively short time.

On New Years Eve, just prior to 2007, the number of American soldiers sacrificing their lives in the Iraq war reached 3,000. This death toll occurs in a period of less than four years and is even greater now. On April 1, 2007, the Washington Post lists the number of fallen soldiers in Operation Iraqi Freedom totaling 3,227. When including the number of soldiers losing their lives in Operation Enduring Freedom, the total count on April 1st is 3,597. This number, taken together with an startling number of faces and names in the basket, adds to recognition of the deep personal costs of any war. The number of losses is even many times greater when counting soldiers from other countries and civilians.

The Human Cost of War

The story of the soldiers memorial basket's creation.

Soldier Names

A close-up of the Winsted Area Peace Actions Group's soldiers memorial.

The impetus for this project is a peace and Veteran's Day service at North Congregational Church, New Hartford, Connecticut. Searching for a way to honor and bear witness to the American men and women losing their lives in the Iraq war, the basket creation commences. The volunteers begin cutting apart photos of American casualties from a New York Times printing, just after reaching the grim mark of 2,000. The process of separating and affixing the photos to the cards, taking several hours time, is quite sobering. Looking into the faces of these men and women, considering loved ones surly still struggling with grief and loss, the participants are struck by the enormity of the number 2,000. Yet, another 1,000 soldiers is a later addition to the basket. Sadly, the total number of casualties continue to grow well past the 3,000 mark.

The peace group encourages each person encountering the basket to spend at least a few moments to get a visual and tactile sense of the human cost of this war. Visitors are welcome to reach in and look at the cards, coming face to face with some of the victims. It is the group's fervent hope that acknowledging the reality of the devastation of war will also renew commitment to the peaceful resolution of conflicts in our communities, nations, and the world.

We wish all of the soldiers, their families and friends, peace. This basket recognizes their great personal sacrifices. May a peaceful settlement be found soon.

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