The Iraq Memorial Wall
            In Memory of Those
                        That Died In Iraq

Press Release - The Iraq Memorial Wall

March 20th 2004 marked the first anniversary of the United States-led invasion of Iraq by the "Coalition of the Willing." The ensuing year has seen over 570 United States military fatalities -- 670 when all coalition members are included. According to the list maintained by CNN, the fatalities include citizens of 11 countries.

In the early days of the conflict, every fatality was national news, with a great deal of attention to their ultimate sacrifice and their stories. As the conflict has dragged on, the depth of the reporting has dwindled until now we are told only that "two more American service people were killed in Iraq yesterday."

In order to more fully memorialize those who have died in Iraq, the Connecticut Coalition for Peace and Justice created a memorial wall. The wall, which consists of four 4’x8’ panels, shows each soldier’s name, age, unit, hometown, the circumstances surrounding their injuries, and a commemorative symbol. The commemorative symbol for most of the Americans is a photograph. The commemorative symbol for those from other countries, or where no photo is available, is their nation’s flag.

Wayne Coste, a resident of Tariffville, constructed the Memorial. He started attending the Connecticut Coalition for Peace and Justice meetings because he is saddened by the public neglect of these service men and women. Coste recalls the divisiveness resulting from the invasion of Iraq: "When I was protesting against the wisdom of the war last year, I frequently heard opponents to the war derided as unpatriotic. According to many pro-War advocates, the only people with a patriot’s sense of duty to their country were in the military. I was repeatedly told that the members of the armed services and their commitment were the only ones worthy of respect and admiration. Now, it feels to me like our collective silence detracts from the respect and admiration that our men and women in uniform deserve."

In order to honor those who have died in Iraq, Coste created a simple memorial intended to make a statement without partisanship. "When we started conceptualizing this memorial, we were tempted to make political statements. But after working with the names and photos, and reflecting on their lost lives, we have designed a memorial wall that simply speaks for itself, in a manner similar to the Vietnam Memorial in Washington." It is also evocative of the June 27th 1969 issue of Life Magazine, which made a big impression on me. I designed this memorial to be approachable by citizens on either side of the Iraq issue. I think that we have succeeded. I hope that everyone gets to see these panels, and I also hope that it doesn’t get any longer."

The memorial wall will be on display this Saturday March 27th at the Weekly Peace Vigil - West Hartford Center, at 11:30 AM.

For additional information, contact Wayne Coste at , or Marcia Morris of the American Friends Service Committee, at

The West Hartford Citizens for Peace and Justice is a member of the Connecticut Coalition For Peace and Justice.