Taking a drive around our lovely suburbs, including through Lafayette, the home of the now world-famous Lafayette crosses war memorial. Starting in November 2006, on a privately owned hillside, volunteers began erecting a cross for every US service man or woman killed in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. As of today, the memorial shows 4,850 dead.
I've passed the memorial from time to time, but what struck me this morning was really noticing the way friends or family members of some of the deceased has decorated their crosses, often in incredibly beautiful, poignant ways--like the cross to the right, one of several of which is covered in a colorful mosaic of brightly colored tiles and mirrors.
There is also the cross dedicated to the memory of James Coon (below right). He was a 22-year-old graduate of Las Lomas High in Walnut Creek who was killed in April 2007 when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle in Balad, Iraq.
James Coon's father, Jim Coon, described his 6-f00t, 6-inch son as a "good-natured" guy. After graduating from Las Lomas in 2003, where he had been a punter on the school's championship football team, he went to Diablo Valley College, according to an interview his family gave to the San Francisco Chronicle. He joined the Army, hoping to make enough money to buy a house when he returned. He had been in Iraq eight months before he was killed.
At the time of his son's death, his father told the Chronicle: "I'm very proud of my son. ... I would like everybody to support our troops." But Jim Coon added, "I don't support the government and what they're doing with this war. I don't believe the war is right."