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Jul-14-2012 12:37printcommentsVideo

Veterans for Peace Host Arlington West as Tribute to Fallen

Appreciate the real story of the crosses on the beach in California.

Arlington West
Photos and information courtesy: HoaxSlayer.com

(SANTA BARBARA) - A veterans group started putting a cross and candle up for every death in Iraq and Afghanistan almost a decade ago in Santa Barbara and thanks to their continuing determination, the tribute continues.

This site on the beach is called Arlington West in deference to the national cemetery. The memorial was started by a group called Veterans for Peace Santa Barbara shortly after the 2003.

Links are included below that lead t more information about the memorial. The first picture and the last picture are taken at the beach in Santa Barbara right next to the pier.

The amazing thing is that they only do it on the weekends. They put up this graveyard and take it down every weekend.

Guys sleep in the sand next to it and keep watch over it at night so nobody messes with it.

Every cross has the name, rank and date of birth and date of death.

Very moving, very powerful, so many young volunteers. So many 30 to 40 year old's as well.

ACLU and Unfounded Email Allegation

There is a report that the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) has filed a suit to have all military cross-shaped headstones removed. They're making great progress. There is also a report that a Navy Chaplains can no longer mention Jesus' name in prayer thanks to the ACLU; they filed another suit to end prayer from the military completely. The Navy Chaplains can no longer mention Jesus' name in prayer thanks to the ACLU and our new administration.

A Wikipedia article about Arlington West explains:

    The memorial in Santa Barbara, California, which was first put together on November 2, 2003 by local activist Stephen Sherrill, was soon adopted by the local chapter of Veterans for Peace. It is installed each Sunday by a team of volunteers on the beach immediately west of Stearns Wharf. Visitors walking to the tourist attractions on the wharf have a clear view, from the boardwalk, along the beach with the white crosses in the foreground. From the walkway, visitors can see a flag-draped coffin and more than 3,000 crosses, made of wood, which are intended to resemble and represent traditional military grave markers.

    In addition to the simulated graveyard, a placard listing all the fallen American military personnel since the U.S. invaded and occupied Iraq is prominently displayed; this list is updated weekly. Due to logistical constraints, the number of new crosses was halted at just over 3000 even though the latest death toll has exceeded 4400. Adjacent to the placards is a sign containing the message: "At 3000 crosses, the Arlington West Memorial is 141 feet wide and 310 feet long. A memorial for the Iraqi dead would be 141 feet wide and 12.8 miles long."

    The second Arlington West was installed in Santa Monica, California on February 15, 2004, a Sunday. It was built on the sand just north of the pier at Santa Monica Beach, "as a way to acknowledge the costs and consequences of the addiction to war as an instrument of international policy" (quote from Veterans for Peace). Like the initial memorial in Santa Barbara, it has been reinstalled each Sunday and Fourth of July since its inception.

The following YouTube video provides further details about the Arlington West project:

More from HoaxSlayer.com:

There are a number of other similar temporary memorials in various locations across the United States. The memorials are certainly a very moving and heartfelt tribute to fallen soldiers.

However, the claims the message makes about the ACLU are untrue. In fact the same false claims about the ACLU have circulated in various forms for a number of years. Each claim made in the message is discussed in turn below:

Claim: The ACLU has filed a suit to have all military cross-shaped headstones removed.

This claim is false. Similar claims have been circulating since at least 2003. In its website FAQ, the ACLU notes:

    The ACLU has never pursued the removal of religious symbols from personal gravestones. In fact, following lawsuits filed by the ACLU and the Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the Department of Veterans Affairs agreed to allow family members to include a religious symbols on headstones.

    The ACLU has long argued that veterans and their families should be free to choose religious symbols on military headstones -- whether Crosses, Stars of David, Pentacles, or other symbols -- and that the government should not be permitted to restrict such religious expression in federal cemeteries.

Claim: The ACLU has filed a suit to end prayer in the military completely.

This claim is false. The ACLU has previously stated that it objects to forcing midshipmen to participate in the Naval Academy's compulsory "noon meal prayers." However, the ACLU has not filed a suit to stop prayer in the military.

In a letter sent in May 2008, to Vice Admiral Jeffrey L. Fowler on behalf of a group of midshipmen who objected to the prayers, Deborah A. Jeon, Legal Director for the ACLU of Maryland, noted:

    "Members of the military have a right to pray or not pray as they personally see fit, and that right is protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution. It is one of the fundamental rights they put their lives on the line to defend in service to their country," said Jeon. "But the government should not be in the business of compelling religious observance, particularly in military academies, where students can feel coerced by senior students and officials and risk the loss of leadership opportunities for following their conscience."

The press release about the letter also notes:

    In the letter, Jeon makes clear that the ACLU opposes compulsory religious services mandated by the government, not voluntary religious exercises by Academy midshipmen.

Claim: Navy Chaplains can no longer mention Jesus' name in prayer thanks to the ACLU and our new administration.

This claim is false. This claim is apparently derived from the case of former Navy Chaplain Gordon J. Klingenschmitt who accused the Navy of "anti-Jesus persecution of chaplains." However, neither the ACLU nor the "new administration" played any role in the Klingenschmitt case. An article about the issue on FactCheck.org notes:

    Praying in Jesus’ Name

    Also false is the e-mail’s claim that "[t]he Navy Chaplains can no longer mention Jesus’ name in prayer thanks to the retched [sic] ACLU and our new administration."

    Later versions of this e-mail corrected the misspelling of "wretched" but still mangled the facts about the case of former Navy Chaplain Gordon J. Klingenschmitt, to which the message likely alludes. A favorite of religious conservatives, Klingenschmitt accused his Navy superiors of pushing chaplains to offer generic, nonsectarian prayers. On his Web site, where he now solicits donations, news interviews and speaking engagements, he describes himself as "The Navy Chaplain who dared to pray ‘in Jesus’ name’ " and says he was "court-martialed for praying in Jesus’ name in uniform outside the White House." He accuses the Navy of "anti-Jesus persecution of chaplains."

    Actually, the Navy court-martialed Klingenschmitt for disobeying an order. He appeared – in uniform – with others at a news conference to protest the president’s inaction on his complaints against the Navy. The event was in Lafayette Square, just across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House. Klingenschmitt said he was merely offering a public prayer. The military prosecutor said Klingenschmitt had been ordered not to wear his uniform at media events or political protests, and that the event was not a true worship service. A jury of five officers found him guilty of disobeying a lawful order and punished him with a reprimand and temporary reduction in pay. He left the Navy soon after.

    Regardless of the merits or demerits of Klingenschmitt’s case, the ACLU had nothing to do with it. ACLU spokesman Will Matthews told us in an exchange of e-mails that "the ACLU was never involved in the case of Gordon Klingenschmitt." In our research we’ve uncovered no news accounts that describe any role by the ACLU.

    Furthermore, Klingenschmitt’s removal from the Navy was not the doing of "the new administration," as this e-mail claims. Klingenschmitt’s court-martial took place in 2006. The president who was in the White House, and whose support Klingenschmitt unsuccessfully sought, was George W. Bush.

Another long running hoax message claims that an ACLU spokesperson named "Lucius Traveler" objected to a group of US Marines bowing their heads in prayer during a military ceremony. However, the ACLU has denied any knowledge of a spokesperson by that name.




Special thanks to Calvin Frye for locating this special information; Calvin is a former U.S. Marine who was stationed at the legendary El Toro Marine Corps Air Station in Irvine, he lives in Southern California and advocates for members of the military, veterans and all things American and decent.

Special thanks to Calvin Frye, HoaxSlayer.com; edited by Tim King, Salem-News.com




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