What Fresh Hell Is This?

May 7, 2007

The Wall of the Fallen

This story's been making its way around the internets in the last few days. Here's the background.

In June of last year, Congressman Vernon Ehlers (R-Grand Rapids) announced the creation of The Wall of the Fallen:
In recognition of these heroes, we have placed a memorial display in the Rayburn Horseshoe Foyer, featuring the name of each and every member of our forces who has fallen as a result of the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Problem is, they're running out of room on the wall for the new names.

According to this article in the San Jose Mercury News (h/t to atrios),

In a grim sign of the times, the "Wall of the Fallen," set up by House Republican leaders in June, is almost full. The mounting death toll from Iraq has forced U.S. House staffers to study how to reconfigure the display in the lobby of the Rayburn Building - the largest office building for members of Congress - to squeeze in more names.

According to the Defense Department, 3,736 U.S. service members died in the two wars by the end of April. New names are added to the display every few months, but none have been added since November. The last name listed is Lance Cpl. Luke Holler, 21-year-old Marine reservist from Bulverde, Texas, killed by an explosive device on Nov. 2.

Congressman Ehlers had a good idea, to be sure. The names of the dead should be front and center of each legislator's mind. The numbers of the dead (and wounded) should not be forgotten - theirs is the ultimate sacrifice. Theirs is the price already paid for dubya's bloodbath.
"This is so sad," Delahunt said. "This states so poignantly and ironically that we never thought about needing extra space. The concept of the wall is laudable, but no one wanted to think about how many more soldiers would die."
It might be difficult to conceive of the problem by just words. Here's what the memorial looked like when Ehlers announced its creation:

That was a year ago.

They stopped adding names last November. There's only room for about 130 more, but more than 500 have died since then.

And they continue to die.

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