Let the living honor the dead in Pack Square park

A lot of people are in an uproar — well, maybe it's just me, and you other folks are mesmerized by your televisions — about our downtown park, Pack Square, being fenced off for renovations for years, while the projected cost of this curiously noncity project escalates from 6 million to 27 million dollars.

A $450,000 veterans memorial is to be built in the park. Those folks in charge of the renovations, who are paid over $200,000 a year, somehow were not aware of the planned $230,000 veterans memorial — now newly completed — at Memorial Stadium, three-quarters of a mile away.

My idea is for a living memorial to our veterans, many of whom are still living. Go visit the local VA hospital and imagine building a $450,000 memorial on the lawn outside, while funding for VA hospitals dwindles as the ranks of wounded veterans skyrocket — due to Bush's illegal war. The costs, in trillions of dollars for this war — and for the care of our wounded vets for the next 60 years — boggles the mind and will cripple our fine nation, regardless of the current economic meltdown.

My proposed monument would be made of living people. Picture 10 or 20 women, dressed in black, standing silently by Vance Monument every Friday from 5 to 6 p.m.

The city of Asheville could give this group a grant of, say, $300 a week, to be our living monument. If 15 women participate, that's $20 an hour for each — a living wage! And this righteous group of women could donate the $300 to the city of Asheville, which certainly could use the money. A win-win situation, no?

— Catherine Wheel

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8 thoughts on “Let the living honor the dead in Pack Square park

  1. John A. Smolkin

    “Go visit the local VA hospital and imagine building a $450,000 memorial on the lawn outside, while funding for VA hospitals dwindles as the ranks of wounded veterans skyrocket — due to Obama’s illegal war.” You go girl! If anyone deserves help with our tax dollars, it is the veteran.

    “why is it just women in black, why can’t it be people in black?” Good point. But you don’t sound very politically correct.

  2. Catherine Wheel

    Women In Black to vigil in Asheville

    Statement of Asheville Women In Black

    Asheville, North Carolina, Nov. 5— During 1988 in Israel, a group of women began gathering in silent vigil to mourn victims of violence and to demand peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Their powerful witness soon spread throughout networks of women around the globe, and women have been gathering publicly to grieve the senseless violence of war and mourn the victims ever since under the title “Women In Black.” In Belgrade, Women In Black vigils have been held weekly since 1991 to protest war and the Serbian regime’s policies of nationalist aggression. In New York City, Women In Black stands in silent vigil in front of the New York Public Library every Wednesday, centering their action in the aftermath of September 11 on “mourning the dead and feeling deep sympathy with the bereaved and injured” as well as opposing a war of vengeance which only causes more suffering.

    Starting Friday, November 9, Asheville Women In Black will begin regular vigils in the center of Asheville to grieve for all victims of violence, including those killed in the September 11 attacks and those being killed and injured in Afghanistan by US military action; and to call for peace. Anne Craig, who is helping to bring together the Asheville Women In Black actions, explains: “We gather to be part of an international network of women opposed to war and militarism; to be public witnesses of protest against US military action in Afghanistan and all of the violent conflicts currently taking place in our world. We wear black as an expression of sorrow. We invite women to stand with us in silence to reflect about themselves and women who have been raped, tortured, or killed, women who have been “disappeared,” whose homes have been demolished, whose loved ones have been murdered. One thing is clear: violence begets more violence. Patriarchal, militaristic insistence upon pursuing the path of violence perpetuates and increases hatred, mistrust, despair, and death. Humanity must seek and practice nonviolent processes to resolve conflict. We despair for all caught in the cycle of violence — politicians, soldiers, terrorists, civilians — promoting violence can never foster life. It does not lead to a safer world. Violence cannot lead to peace.”

    Women In Black is a loose network of women world-wide committed to peace with justice and actively opposed to war and other forms of violence. It is not an organization, but a means of mobilization and a set of tactics for action. Women In Black stand in vigil, often silently, to mourn; they stand against the violence of war, rape as a tool of war, everyday violence against women, and all human rights abuses. Each Women In Black group is autonomous, and chooses its own focus, most often mourning the victims of personal and state violence in the group’s particular part of the world.

    One of the inspirations for starting this type of action in Asheville is the fact that Women In Black, San Francisco, is being targeted by the FBI. Ronnie Gilbert, who sang with Pete Seeger and the Weavers, is a part of SF Women In Black, and recently published an article drawing parallels between the current loss of civil liberties and the McCarthy era, during which she faced harassment and repression because of her political beliefs, as did many Americans. Beth Trigg, who is helping start Asheville Women In Black says, “I was deeply affected when I heard that the FBI was targeting Women In Black. Is even grief a crime in this country? Is our culture so alienated from the heart that we can allow a group of women who are simply grieving to be scapegoated?”

    According to Gilbert, “Because my group is composed mostly of Jewish women, we focus on the Middle East, protesting the cycle of violence and revenge in Israel and the Palestinian Territories. The FBI is threatening my group with a Grand Jury investigation.” She continues, “So what is to investigate? That some of us are in contact with activist Palestinian peace groups? This is bad? The Jewish Women In Black of Jerusalem have stood vigil every Friday for 13 years in protest against the occupation; Muslim women from Palestinian peace groups stand with them at every opportunity. We praise and honor them, these Jewish and Arab women who endure hatred and frequent abuse from extremists on both sides for what they do. We are not alone in our admiration. Jerusalem Women in Black is a nominee for the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize, along with the Bosnia Women in Black, now ten years old.”

    In solidarity with the women who are facing Grand Jury investigation, and more importantly in determination to allow a space for mourning the dead and grieving loss of life in senseless acts of violence, women in Asheville are taking up the mantle of Women In Black.

    According to one of the women who will be standing vigil in Asheville, “Our government has tried to steal from us the time to grieve those who died on September 11—Bush is telling everyone to ‘get back to normal, don’t let them think we’re afraid, spend money and go on with business as usual.’ We refuse to comply. We need to grieve. We have to take this public space to mourn all of those who have died, on September 11 in this country and in Afghanistan since we starting terrorizing the people there and all over the world wherever there has been war and violence. We are particularly grieving for all of those being scared, hurt, and killed right now in Afghanistan.”

    Women In Black Asheville mourns for the men, women, and children who have already died in the US’s war of revenge, as for all those killed in wars fought by our government, either overtly or by proxy through the training and financing of terrorists, assassins, and torturers. Our hearts are with the families of the victims of the El Mozote massacre in El Salvador 20 years ago, carried out by troops trained at the US Army’s School of the Americas and with the victims of the “drug wars” in the US and in Colombia and elsewhere in Latin America. We are full of rage and sorrow for all of the women and girls even in our own community who are not safe in their own homes. We call for an end to US training and funding of terrorists, at the “School of Assassins” and elsewhere, and for an immediate end to military action in Afghanistan. We stand against the horrible loss of life caused by violence and war, and call for truth-telling, grief, and healing as the first steps toward peace. Women In Black will gather on Friday at 6pm at Vance Monument in Asheville. Bring candles and wear black. For more information, call Anne Craig at 252-4536.

  3. past curious

    why not take that time WIB spend every friday night and do something useful for veterans, victims of violence, etc. ? why not take the money and contribute goods and services to the living veterans and their families? why not raise funds for these causes? why not help pay their medical bills and the incidental costs of being wounded and sick and poor? do something productive and useful for the victims rather than for the martyrs.

    how does it work that the city of asheville makes the grant only to receive the money back?

    and indeed why no men allowed?

  4. ron ogle

    mr/Ms ‘past curious’
    well you are definately onto something
    when you suggest that ‘the money’ be spent on the care of the wounded -[rather than on a $450,000. Veterans Memorial]
    ps: Why not sign your comment with your Name ?
    Ron Ogle, U.S.Navy Vietnam Era Veteran

  5. past curious

    i didn’t sign it because i work in government and cannot publicly express political views …

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