Stephen Sherrill of Santa Barbara, California, discusses his Arlington West Memorial where he has planted over 2,700 crosses — one for each dead U.S. soldier in Iraq. [includes rush transcript]
The number of U.S military deaths from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan now surpasses the number of those killed in the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001. This latest milestone came on Friday when the Pentagon reported the death of an unidentified solider killed by a roadside bomb in eastern Baghdad. This brought the death toll of U.S soilders killed in Iraq and Afghanistan to 2,974. The attacks of 9/11 killed 2,973. Yesterday, as part of our 80-city Breaking the Sound Barrier tour, we stopped by a Santa Barbara pier in California where veterans had planted thousands of crosses–one for each dead US soldier. They call it Arlington West.
- Stephen Sherrill, founder of the Arlington West Memorial and member of Veterans for Peace
AMY GOODMAN: Last evening, as we drove to Santa Barbara, we pulled up to the pier. There, we saw thousands of crosses dug into the beach. We talked to the man who started this, what is called Arlington West. His name is Stephen Sherrill, and he is with Veterans for Peace.
STEPHEN SHERRILL: It started November 2 of 2003 with about 340 crosses. It was designed for two purposes: one, a memorial, to recognize the kids that have lost their lives over in Iraq; and also a wakeup call for Americans to show them the terrible price that we have paid for this war in Iraq.
AMY GOODMAN: Talk about the numbers here.
STEPHEN SHERRILL: Today we just hit 2,700 crosses. The average number of soldiers dying has been about 14 per week, about two per day. The last four weeks we’ve been above our average. We had 16 this week, we had 23 the week before, and 23 the week before that.
AMY GOODMAN: And how are people responding to this display?
STEPHEN SHERRILL: Well, we’ve been here almost three years now, and we have noticed a clear shift in the sentiment of the visitors that come here. In the beginning we used to get a lot of people that would shout at us and call us communists and terrorist sympathizers. But we have definitely noticed a shift in the sentiment of the American people. We get almost no derogatory comments now at all.
AMY GOODMAN: Stephen Sherrill, he is with Veterans for Peace, and he is the founder of Arlington West at the Santa Barbara pier. We spoke to him last night in Santa Barbara.