July 4th I wrote about the Iraq Names Project entering Eliot Neighborhood . After an out of town vacation and a busy schedule I was finally able to volunteer chalking late July and early August. I’m glad I found the time – it was a rewarding experience.
On Friday July 27th I took the day off work. I decided it would be a good day to first meet up with Nancy and her project and a good way to start my day. They were working on NE Monroe after circling Dawson Park heading back toward MLK. I intended to remember the very first name I chalked but I have since kind of lost track. I doesn’t really matter because they are all important, what is more important is the great feeling of being involved in such a wonderful project.
A few days later on Tuesday and Thursday I joined them again. By then the path of names had crossed MLK at NE Fargo and made it to Irving Park. I was able to help add to the list of names along NE 7th.
On Saturday my family decided to join me as I volunteered once again. Nancy was working on NE Freemont heading West toward MLK. Now having experience, I showed my wife the ropes and we began. Oscar, our dog sat by and watched intently. One Oregon soldier – always in white followed by city and a quote – was in the list. Simpson from Ashland was 24 years old when he died May 16 2005. “We’re really proud of the sacrifice he made” said his family. I wondered what my family would have said if it were me. Three and half hours later after 51 names had been drawn, all of whom died in May 2005, we called it a day. Nancy continued. She does so every day.
The reaction and interaction with people is very rewarding. Some honk with support in cars as they pass by. Some know exactly what the names are. Others look puzzled trying to figure it out. Before long Nancy will greet every onlooker and share with them what the project is all about. The feedback is almost always positive. Some even stop and chalk a name right then and there.
My chalking experience also served as a method to meet Eliot neighbors and community members. While on Monroe several neighbors came out and helped. While on 7th joggers stopped and took a look. Pedestrians almost always stop to ask questions. I enjoyed my time with Nancy as well. While being around her I can feel her passion for this project. That passion rubs off on those who take the time to chalk a name or even spend a few minutes talking with her.
At about 2:30 on Saturday August 4th the Iraq Names Project left Eliot Neighborhood heading north on MLK from Freemont. Except for a few days and a few blocks along the east side of 7th Nancy and her project spent an entire month in our neighborhood covering 1.8 miles. We are lucky to have had her and I hope she enjoyed her time in Eliot. The name I chalked in Eliot last was “Morgain” a soldier who died May 22 2005.
Wherever you stand politically, this project will have a positive impact on you. It is a reminder of what so many have given up. The Iraq Names Project will continue until all the names are written. We all hope the list stops growing soon. If you have the time join Nancy and chalk some names – you will be glad you did.