CHICAGO: Cathedral exhibit honors U.S. military deaths in Iraq

March 25, 2008

The American Friends Service Committee, Episcopal Peace Fellowship, military families and Iraq vets commemorated with prayers and reflections the milestone of the 4,000th U.S. military death in Iraq on March 24 at the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago's St. James' Cathedral.

Covering the walls of the cathedral were 4,000 4” x 6” black squares containing the name, rank, age and home state of each U.S. soldier or Marine killed in the Iraq War. They were hung in order of state on a white background representing Iraqi dead.

Although estimates of Iraqi deaths vary, the World Health Organization recently reported that its research suggested that 151,000 civilians died as a result of the fighting between the start of the war and June 2006.

The display takes up all of the entire interior walls of the cathedral.

Chicago Bishop Jeffery Lee and the Very Rev. Joy Rogers, cathedral provost, took part in the "unveiling" of the exhibit, which will be on display for at least the next month.

"We're surrounded by an artistic witness to the grief which is the marker of the true cost of this war," Lee told a reporter for CBS2, Chicago's CBS affiliate television station.

The video news story that includes footage of the cathedral's exhibit is available here.

"Our display honors every U.S. serviceperson and all Iraqis who have died in Iraq. In a meditative act of remembrance, volunteers from all over Chicago helped to assemble the memorial by hand," a cathedral handout on the exhibit says. "This display is a testament to our commitment to change course in Iraq. We believe not one more Iraqi or U.S. soldier should be killed; not one more U.S. dollar should be spent sustaining war and occupation."

The 75th General Convention, meeting in June 2006, passed Resolution D020, which called upon Congress and President George W. Bush to "immediately develop for implementation a plan for the stabilization of Iraq, to be followed by the prompt withdrawal of U.S. Armed Forces from Iraq, to provide for a transfer of peacekeeping functions to an international peacekeeping force, to work through international and Iraqi organizations in the reconstruction of Iraq’s civil and economic infrastructure, and for the full restoration of Iraqi sovereignty."

The resolution also called on Episcopalians "as an act of penitence, to oppose and resist through advocacy, protest, and electoral action the continuation of the war in Iraq, and encourage the President and Congress to take proactive steps to end our participation as soon as possible."

That resolution and Resolution D019 called for continued prayers and care for those serving in both Iraq and Afghanistan and their families.

In March 2007, the Episcopal Church's Executive Council, its governing body between meetings of General Convention, passed Resolution INC016 which called, in part, for the U.S. government "in consultation with leaders in Iraq and in its neighboring countries, to set and announce a deadline for full military disengagement, recognizing the sacrifice of U.S. forces in Iraq and the suffering of the Iraqi people."

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