Sunday, June 13, 2004

the names of the dead

The folks at Signal Orange want to make sure you don't forget that all those senseless casualties in Iraq aren't just numbers, they are people who, until recently, had names and beating hearts.

To the families of the soldiers

First of all, it’s impossible to imagine words that would provide comfort for your loss. We’re aware that the person you loved most likely died doing something that they believed in, and we hope you agree that what they believed in was preserving and spreading democratic values.

For those of us who participate in Signal Orange, we do so in the spirit of protecting those same values.

It’s true that the loss is yours, and we do not intend to add to the pain of it, nor do we want to belittle it, nor do we claim it as our own. What Signal Orange addresses is another loss, which is the loss of our collective ability to really consider the war with full information. If we’re hiding the casualties, how can we take pride in what our soldiers are fighting for? If we’re hiding the casualties, what else are we hiding?

It’s possible that in making them visible, we support and respect these soldiers more than our government does when it hides them and laughs over the senselessness of the war that killed them. While broadcasting jokes, it obscures the pain, yours and everyone's. That the current administration then expects censorship to be understood as compassion — that’s a very scary moment in history.

Signal Orange isn’t trying to speak for your loved ones and it isn’t trying to speak for you. We’re speaking for the voting public that needs to know the actual costs of this or any war if we are to meaningfully support it.

Their goal is to get as many people as they can in shirts that each have the name of a dead soldier on them, and wear them anywhere the press is: Republican National Convention, March on Washington, whatever it takes. It's a non-profit venture, and you can help out by going here.