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The Valley Reporter
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Waitsfield, VT 05673
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With gratitude and sadness

By Ferris Buck

In October 2005, a group of local people began a memorial for those killed in Iraq. Since that time the memorial has been faithfully tended by a number of people; people who have kept up the sign, people who have put up new numbers on the sign, who have put in a memorial flag for each person who has died. The numbers have gone from 1,910 to 4,299. Deaths keep happening.

On May 24, after the flags had been removed so the field could be mowed (this process has been done a number of times since the beginning of the memorial garden), a number of people gathered to replace the flags. It is a longer job every time it is done. This year some of the people had placed flags on other occasions; others were doing it for the first time. It was a moving experience for all who participated.

Among those who installed the flags in the early morning hours of May 24 were the following: Ned Kelley, Fayston, has changed the numbers on the sign and has placed flags many times. Ned is a veteran of the Coast Guard, where he was a 3rd class Gunner's Mate from 1961 to 1965.  Both Ned and Richard Czaplinski, who was a lieutenant in the Navy from 1964 to 1969, are active in Veterans for Peace. Additional veterans, both of these originally from England, who participated were Michael Ware, who was a second lieutenant in the 1st Battalion of the King's Regiment from 1957-1959, and Keith Taylor, who ended his service as a lieutenant. He was initially commissioned into the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers and served in Korea in 1951; he then served in the Parachute Regiment for three years in the Territorial Army and was in Malaya during the time of the terrorists. He carried the Regimental Colour at the Coronation of H.M. the Queen in 1953. He is currently chairman of the Trustees of the British Army Benevolent Fund America which supports British soldiers and their families in times of need (www babfa.org). His photos of our day together will be on their web site.

Others who were part of this time were Daniel Summers, Kim Summers, Maura Lane,        Callie Willis, Al and Sal Molnar, Carol Thompson, Kinny Perot and this writer. For all of us, this was a time of profound gratitude and of sadness. Every flag represents an individual, a family, a community, our country, all of us. In addition to those who gave their lives, thousands have been seriously injured, mentally and/or physically. We think of these people and of the people of all countries who have been profoundly injured by the hatred and dark violence of war.

May we all work for peace.

Buck lives in Fayston.

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