On this Fourth of July we stopped by Tiny’s for lunch. While going inside I noticed some chalk on the sidewalk. After looking a little closer I saw chalk south down MLK as far as I could see. Just up a block or so was the end of the chalk along with several people writing on the sidewalk. We ate our lunch outside then went to talk with the chalkers.
I remember reading something about this in the Oregonian early last month. The chalk spells out the names of the coalition forces that have died in the Iraq war. Walking down the street reading the names first hand is an overwhelming and somber reminder of the reality of the war and the impact it has.
On Memorial Day 2007 at the Federal Building in downtown Portland Nancy Hiss started her project called “The Iraq Names Project.” The project writes the last names of the men and women lost to the war in chronological order.
I talked with Nancy and her crew a little. They have written about 900 names on Portland sidewalks. The average is around 30 names a day – some days more and some days less depending on weather. They can only guess when they will reach the end of the list, partly because it is still growing.
On July Fourth after over a month, and over 2 miles of names, the list came into Eliot neighborhood on MLK at Broadway and made it just past Tiny’s. The list stopped with the name of “Holleyman” who was killed August 30 2004 and the words “Iraq names project to honor the sacrifice”.
Seeing the list on the Fourth of July made it seem all the more relevant. As most Americans go camping, hiking, boating, swimming, or firework watching it is easy to forget what others and their families have given up. Seeing that list today meant a little more.
The project will continue through Eliot neighborhood the first few weeks of July probably going up MLK with a detour over to Dawson Park. Look for the names, look for Nancy and her crew and show your respect and support.
For more information about The Iraq Names Project or to volunteer see their blog at iraqnamesproject.wordpress.com . Tiny’s restaurant is located on MLK between Tillamook and San Rafael.