Lafayette war memorial to add more crosses

August 18, 2008 11:59:00 AM PDT
A controversial war memorial in Lafayette is about to get bigger and more controversial. Until now, it has been a memorial to U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq. Soon, it will also pay tribute to U.S. soldiers killed in Afghanistan.

The hillside already has 4,122 crosses, one for each American solider killed in the Iraq war. Now 600 more crosses are planned, for troops killed in Afghanistan. Not only will they remember a different war, the crosses themselves will be different.

It is a hill covered with crosses, some with a picture, some a name, others a dog-tag. Until now, it was just for soldiers killed in Iraq. The relatives of those killed in Afghanistan have recently approached organizer Jeffrey Heaton about their loved ones.

"So we began to think, that obviously to them, this hillside represents something important. So we wanted to officially recognize that soldiers who have died in Afghanistan, have a place that also represents something for them here," said Jeffrey Heaton, memorial organizer.

Those waiting across the street from the crosses had no problems with the more additions to the memorial - though each for a different reason.

"There is nothing wrong with having a tribute, that's how I see it is as a symbol of tribute," said Hamid Minoui, Danville resident.

"I think there is evil out there and it will continues no matter who's high in power," said Rania Sayij, Concord resident.

"I pass this memorial every day on the way back home after work and in a way it just reminds me we're at war, otherwise I wouldn't remember it as much," said Wei-tai Kwok, Lafayette resident. If Heaton goes ahead with the plan, the 600 crosses will remember a different war, with different crosses.

"The body of the cross is made out of Styrofoam, and we have put stucco over it to make it fireproof and waterproof and so it has a bulkier look to it will last longer," said Heaton.

The fireproofing aspect was at the request of the fire department, though the thousands of wooden crosses out on the hill, can stay.

A spokesperson from the city of Lafayette said as long as organizers keep the weeds down to reduce the fire hazard - they have no problem with the new plan. The organizers hope to have at least 300 of the new crosses up sometime right around 9/11.


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