War dead to be honored in S.F. 

With the Iraq war death toll of U.S. soldiers having reached 3,000, Bay Area veteran’s groups are coming together to make sure that number does not go unnoticed.

Using men’s neckties and women’s scarves collected from Bay Area citizens to hang as "silent wind chimes" on the historic sycamore trees outside of City Hall, the Ties to Remember project will memorialize each of the "fallen," hoping to evoke emotion from passers-by.

No stranger to anti-war sentiment, San Francisco has staged some of the largest anti-war demonstrations to date. The Financial District was shut down for days at the beginning of the war as protestors took to the streets. The Board of Supervisors passed a resolution against the start of the Iraq war in December 2002, followed by an October 2004 resolution that called for the federal government to pull troops out of Iraq.

The Ties to Remember memorial is the brainchild of John Caldera, who said the idea for the display came to him in a dream, and is modeled after the floating candle display in Oakland’s Lake Merritt when the U.S. death toll hit 1,000 and the combat boot memorial outside Oakland City Hall when the toll hit 2,000.

"I just wanted to do something because I am concerned about the loss of life," said Caldera, a Navy veteran.

The project has come to fruition with the help of representatives from the San Francisco Bay Area Veterans for Peace, The Alexander Hamilton Post 448 of the American Legion and the San Francisco Chapter of the Veterans Community Action Network, who have all worked to organize necktie and scarf collections throughout the Bay Area.

However, since the project was only proposed at Thanksgiving, neckties and scarves are needed.

"We didn’t expect the death toll to rise so quickly, so we need more ties and scarves. [Historically] during the holiday season, there are not much casualties of war," Calderasaid.

Paul Cox, a member of the Veterans for Peace and a veteran of the Vietnam War, took special interest in helping out with the project.

"We want to help pay attention to the killing of our sons, fathers and brothers; our sisters and mothers. [The 3,000 death toll] is a serious time to take stock of where we are in this war, especially because our president is talking about bringing more troops to Iraq," Cox said.

To donate:

» Drop off ties and scarves at the San Francisco Veterans Building, 401 Van Ness Ave., (corner of McAllister and Van Ness), Monday through Friday in either Room 101 or 117, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

» Mail them to The American Legion, No. 315, 401 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco, 94102.

» For more information, contact John Caldera at post448@aol.com or (415) 474-4724.

eeconomides@examiner.com

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