The Commons is a weblog for concerned citizens of southeast Iowa and their friends around the world. It was created to encourage grassroots networking and to share information and ideas which have either been suppressed or drowned out in the mainstream media.

"But if the cause be not good, the king himself hath a heavy reckoning to make, when all those legs and arms and heads, chopped off in battle, shall join together at the latter day and cry all 'We died at such a place;' some swearing, some crying for a surgeon, some upon their wives left poor behind them, some upon the debts they owe, some upon their children rawly left. I am afeard there are few die well that die in a battle; for how can they charitably dispose of any thing, when blood is their argument? Now, if these men do not die well, it will be a black matter for the king that led them to it; whom to disobey were against all proportion of subjection." (Henry V, Act V, Scene 4)

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Memorial honoring fallen soldiers in Iraq, Afghanistan runs out of room

Memorial honoring fallen soldiers in Iraq, Afghanistan runs out of room

By Frank Davies

San Jose Mercury News


WASHINGTON - Congress already has run out of space on a memorial created last year to honor all of the U.S. service members killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In a grim sign of the times, the "Wall of the Fallen," set up by House Republican leaders in June, is almost full. The mounting death toll from Iraq has forced U.S. House staffers to study how to reconfigure the display in the lobby of the Rayburn Building - the largest office building for members of Congress - to squeeze in more names.

According to the Defense Department, 3,736 U.S. service members died in the two wars by the end of April. New names are added to the display every few months, but none have been added since November. The last name listed is Lance Cpl. Luke Holler, 21-year-old Marine reservist from Bulverde, Texas, killed by an explosive device on Nov. 2.

In the current format, there is space for about 130 more names, but 506 Americans have died since mid-November. In April, 104 Americans were killed in the war's sixth-deadliest month.

With a fierce debate raging over Iraq in Congress as President Bush resists the Democrats' push for a timetable for troop withdrawal, the wall has taken on symbolic importance to some members.

"It's just another example of how pathetically unprepared and unrealistic the supporters of this war have been," said Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a San Jose Democrat and member of the Administration Committee that oversees operations in House buildings.

Rep. Vernon Ehlers, the Michigan Republican who chaired the committee last summer, said members and staffers "simply wanted to do something to honor those who had made this sacrifice."

Outside individual offices on Capitol Hill, many members have put the names and photos of war fatalities from their states on posters. But Ehlers wanted something "more fitting, that would include everyone." The Rayburn foyer was chosen because it had a large wall in a busy area.

Ehlers said it was difficult to plan how much blank space to leave in a display listing fatalities while a war is going on. When he walked by the wall recently, Ehlers said he realized: "Boy, we could have a problem. More space is needed."

From a few yards away, the display looks like a marble memorial. It's actually a series of laminated poster-board strips with the embossed names of those killed, listed by year and month. The display is titled "Honoring the Fallen - in solemn tribute to the sacrifices of the men and women of the United States Armed Forces."

Dan Beard, the House administrative officer recently appointed by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, will look at ways to "reformat the wall" to include all names, said Brendan Daly, a spokesman for Pelosi.

Like Ehlers, Rep. William Delahunt, D-Mass., walks by the wall often on his way to his office in the Rayburn Building. He said the names of fatalities filling up the display "just tears at everyone's heart."

"This is so sad," Delahunt said. "This states so poignantly and ironically that we never thought about needing extra space. The concept of the wall is laudable, but no one wanted to think about how many more soldiers would die."


© 2007, San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.).

Visit, the World Wide Web site of the Mercury News, at

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.


Post a Comment

<< Home