By Sherwood Ross
Why shouldn’t there be a war memorial on the National Mall in Washington to commemorate those who have died in the Iraq war?
It could be a simple concrete wall five stories high onto which the photographs of those killed in Iraq would be projected.
After dark, somewhere between the illuminated Capitol and the Lincoln Memorial, the Iraq Wall would come to life. It might be a good idea to site it facing the White House so that it would always be visible to future presidents.
Each photograph of a slain person would be shown for a minute or two, as though to remind us: “I was alive once. Remember me.”
If their families so wished, the photographs of every GI killed could be shown. So could the photographs of every Iraqi man, woman, and child killed.
Bereaved Iraqi and American families could submit the photographs of their loved ones. At the bottom of each there would be a name, nothing more.
Except in the case of a slain child, though, it might be appropriate to append the words, “age eight” or “age two” or “six months.”
Where a husband and wife were both killed, a relative might wish to submit a photo of them together in happier days, perhaps at their wedding. Where an entire family has been wiped out, they might be shown at a family gathering.
After all the one million, two hundred thousand photographs have been displayed on the wall, the pictures would be replayed from the start. Faces of those that have recently died of their wounds could be inserted at the beginning of the next cycle.
Photographs of corpses would not be allowed. There would be no pictures of atrocities, nothing to inspire rage or vengeance. These would be inappropriate and upsetting to visitors to the area of America’s shrines and museums. Also, some visitors might get sick.
As U.S. media does not publish photographs of corpses of Iraqi civilians killed, it would go against custom to show Americans the results of how their hard-earned tax dollars are being invested.
The Iraq War Memorial would allow for no propaganda. There would be no museum with photographs of the dead, destroyed homes and public buildings, etc., and no depictions or denunciations of those who made the war.
Unlike the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, which bears only the names of American soldiers killed, the Iraq War Memorial’s commemoration of slain Iraqis would convey the unspoken message, “Those you have killed were human, too” or “We are children of the same God. Look at us, and remember.”
Funds could be raised for the Iraq Memorial by public subscription. It’s too much to expect a war-minded Congress to appropriate money for an educational purpose when there’s never enough for "defense."
#(Sherwood Ross is a veteran reporter and public relations consultant. He formerly worked for the City News Bureau of Chicago, the Chicago Daily News and as a columnist for wire services. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org)