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Counting the Cost

A California group creates an anti-war environmental graphic.

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The Iraq war stands in stark contrast to World War II and other generations-ago conflicts. There are no ration coupons, no product shortages and no drives to collect scrap rubber, metal or other materials essential to the war effort. Moreover, with the institution of an all-volunteer army, young men and women (and their parents) don’t tensely await a draft board’s call.

For many Americans, this conflict has become manifest as an abstraction fought in a faraway land and conveyed via tightly controlled snippets of information broadcast and vehemently debated on cable-news networks, blogs and other mass media. However, for the families of the 100,000-plus soldiers stationed in Iraq, the war levies a tremendous impact. For loved ones of the more than 4,000 soldiers who’ve given their lives for their country, their effect rises exponentially.

In an effort to make tangible the incalculable cost of war, Blowin’ in the Wind, a San Luis Obispo, CA-based, peace-advocacy group named after Bob Dylan’s 1963 seminal anti-war anthem, coordinated a chevron-shaped sculpture that comprises flags that bear the names of soldiers killed during the Iraq War.

According to an organization spokesman, who asked that all Blowin’ in the Wind members be kept anonymous, its shape references the Vietnam Memorial, and its flags conceptually resemble Tibetan prayer flags. A local artist developed the sculpture, which looms along California’s U.S. 1 just north of Cayucos, and organization members decorated the flags during the past two years.

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