Veterans Bring a Touch of Arlington to San Diego

Amid the crowded Memorial Day bustle on the sidewalk that rolls by the USS Midway docked in San Diego Bay were rows and rows of crosses, somber reminders of the ultimate sacrifice made by military men and women.

Planted in the ground by Veterans for Peace, the 1,000 crosses made up the group’s Arlington West Memorial.

“We’re here to honor the fallen on a national level and a San Diego County level,” said Gil Field of Veterans for Peace, “as well as just being here as veterans to remind people that there is a cost to these wars that are ongoing in Iraq, Afghanistan and now Libya, and ask the question: ‘Can we afford these wars?’ ”

The crosses filled a grassy area near the stern of the Midway, a retired aircraft carrier that now serves as a museum. As the constant stream of people enjoying the picture-perfect day strolled by, most stopped to look at the memorial, meant to bring a touch of Arlington National Cemetery to the West Coast.

Veterans for Peace has made Arlington West an annual tradition, and this year they added tombstone-shaped memorials with the names and hometowns of military men and women from San Diego County who have died since the terrorist attacks on 9/11. Sixty-seven memorials filled a grassy slope in front of Harbor Drive.

“You see a name and you see a place like Escondido, Encinitas, Santee or Chula Vista,” Field said. “It brings it home.”