Monday, November 11, 2013

VETERANS DAY at LAFAYETTE CROSSES, Lafayette,California



'LAFAYETTE CROSSES' PROVIDE  DIFFERENT PLATFORMS  FOR  DIFFERENT  EXPRESSIONS


Some years ago a Lafayette couple took liberty to erect hundreds of crosses on a hillside they owned yet which fronted a busy street , freeway and subway system (BART). It was an extreme way to protest war and the 5,000 plus dead soldiers from the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. At first, the act met with much scorn by locals who didn't want to have to pass by a faux gravesite everyday on their way to work. But there was nothing in the local law - at the time -that prevented the couple from not only what they'd already done but adding more crosses to the hillside. A 'grandfather'clause allowed the crosses to remain, since the land had been purchased some time earlier. The   idea was to put up a wooden cross for each soldier who had died in the Irag and Afghanistan wars.
Now, with nearly 7,000 soldiers lost to the wars, the hillside is pretty full  .  The hope is that very soon there will be no more need for more crosses as the Afghanistan War winds down.







Eventually, the 'Lafayette Crosses' took on a life of their own and even became a kind of retreat  for people who had lost loved ones or others who   wanted to share in their anti-war feelings. Every Memorial Day and Veterans Day now   the Crosses  have become a gathering place where people of different leanings listen to speakers while some remember their own loved while others pay tribute to  our departed soldiers. Leaders made a point to mention that the Crosses were intended for all persuasions and ethnic groups and include Jewish Stars, Crescents as well as colored crosses for different races and sexual choices.




 

As Veterans Day became night,    a small throng of 50-100 gathered at the now infamous Lafayette Crosses. Despite the notoriety,  there were probably more speakers and members of the media than there were townsfolks. But, those who were there seemed to enjoy the messages, one from a 'poet,' another from a state senator and   a song from a self-proclaimed troubadour among others. Even a small band of musicians played patriotic songs  between speakers. Though one of the 'leaders' stressed that the occasional hillside events are intended to be politically 'neutral' one couldn't help but hear left-leaning sentiment among the talks. But, all in  all, it was a peaceful event, perhaps the only local Veterans Day 'service' outside of cemeteries. Even major network media - ABC,NBC and local KRON TV helped fill the tiny strip in front of the crosses with trucks and TV cameras and reporters.



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