War dead mourned at protest on campus
By Lisa Petrillo

January 26, 2005

DAN BROWN / Union-Tribune

Jim Brown of Encinitas, a member of Veterans for Peace, walked among more than 1,300 crosses he made for a traveling exhibit titled Arlington West that was included in a war protest yesterday at California State University San Marcos.

SAN MARCOS Student Sarah Leonard began yesterday's war protest by asking groundskeepers to mow down the giant W someone had planted on the lawn at California State University San Marcos.

Leonard and her fellow College Democrats then placed 1,374 white crosses atop the still-visible plug for President Bush.

And they read the names of all U.S. military men and women who died in the Iraq war.

"Everybody goes by and sees this and realizes these are all people. It's not just numbers they hear on TV before they turn off the bad news," said Leonard, who is majoring in sociology and criminology.

The crosses were made by Vietnam War veteran Jim Brown of Veterans for Peace in a traveling exhibit the roofing contractor from Encinitas calls Arlington West, named for the military cemetery.

This was his first display on a campus, he said, and his group plans to increase its student outreach in other ways, including a $1,000 scholarship for a student who writes the most compelling essay about using peaceful methods to resolve conflict.

Sociology students Irene Rohrs and Gerald Smith said the protest made them realize how many lives have been lost.

Before they saw the crosses, they were arguing about whether wearing jeans with high heels was a real fashion trend, Rohrs said. Instead, their argument turned to whether the U.S.-led Iraq war was effective in combating terrorism.

Senior James Nguyen sat by the library reading Stanley Karnow's history of the Vietnam War as students discussed the parallels between the two wars.

His friend R.J. Omabtang observed the protest and said, "I was like, 'Wow,' I didn't realize it was so many."