The last day of the Peace Crane Memorial
Last weekend we set up the Memorial at Dia de Los Muertos. This project began 12 years ago in 2003 when the press was stopped from showing the coffins of those in the US Military killed in the war in Iraq,. Evidently there was an amazing amount of humidity 80%, but no rain, on Saturday night. When people came to help on Sunday, they found cranes and names on the ground. They had fallen off, glue dissolved by the moisture. Some names had stayed on but info was washed out. We estimate that 50 to 70% of the memorial was damaged. Reverend Lind Mervin said it was a metaphor for the destruction of war. I was also thinking that the birds and spirits of the dead were ready to move on.
People talked of repair or modernizing it. I realized that the memorial wall as it has been has represented to me a continuing story. The names and birds that Tim and I and Jenny first put on were still there this year, yellowed and faded. We did those when she was beginning high school. Then there were the years we got hyper perfectionist, everything in order, birds made to perfection. Then we became overwhelmed and the Peace and Justice center helped with the first Pizza and peace events. The descriptions of how people died got larger and fewer names were put on one panel. The Quakers started helping out. It out grew the storage shed Tim had built for his tools and we moved it to BK’s and then to Kay Shades garage. The women of the Gate did a gluing session. Finally it came to the Quaker house inside and then into it’s own shed outside. The Rotary clubs helped to include Afghanistan deaths.
The memorial to me has been a story of the people involved with love in bringing it to the public. It marched in a 4th of July parade in Silver City, was displayed in Albuq, Santa Fe, and Deming. It went to Washington DC twice. A song was written about the trip. It is the story of peace people connecting with veterans and families of those on the Memorial as they found their loved ones. This began as a protest to war and has served as a community place of public grief over the impact of war.
I thought we were done in 2011 as the Iraq war ended and then David and the Rotary took us on into doing Afghanistan. Last year Tim created a sculpture for the suicides of veterans. The sculpture was not damaged by the humidity.
There are ideas and thoughts of a different way to display these names, as we have learned from the weather of NM, the original design was definitely not weather sturdy. I hope someone pursues it. Thanks to all who have helped with this work over the last 12 years. I began this as a leading not knowing it would last so long and go so far. The US government may have us in endless war but I will not continue to document it. I have enjoyed the whole slow fragile story of it over the years and am happy to move on to other work.