How Do CODEPINKers Remember the Iraq War?

Posted by CODEPINK Staff


by Janet Weil

For longtime CODEPINKer Jacque Betz, the answer is the Peace Ribbon Project, with love, tenderness and fabric art.

Following on the AIDS Memorial Quilt and the centuries-old tradition of women's folk art, the Peace Ribbon contains approximately 400 panels, each memorializing US soldiers, Iraqi civilans, journalists and aid workers who have been murdered in the nearly 9-year war, as well as (satirically of course) oil companies.

As I reflect on what the end of the official US combat war and occupation in Iraq means to me and to CODEPINK, I called Jacque in Gainesville, Florida and asked for her thoughts during this period of transition.

Jacque has contributed thousands of hours of volunteer labor to this important memorial project including making panels, shipping them off, receiving, repairing, communicating about the project, and much more. The Peace Ribbon has been displayed in dozens of locations around the US, including at churches, universities, Veterans for Peace displays, libraries, city halls and most recently at Occupy Tucson.

She said some family members (including Cindy Sheehan) want their loved one's panel back "when this is done" and Jacque said, "I'm wondering what 'done' means."

I said, "I think we're all wondering that."

Jacque's first response when I asked her to reflect on the ending of the "official" US war in Iraq:
"4,478 US soldiers lost their lives, and an estimated 1 million Iraqis, and I ask, like Cindy Sheehan: 'For what noble cause?!'"

Her intent with this project:
"I didn't want us labeled as antisoldier peace group."

How people respond to a display of the Peace Ribbon:
"Everyone cries... grown men cry. People look at it and realize when someone dies in a war, the entire family suffers a lot and is forever changed."

On the economic costs of war:
"How much did we spend? Almost a trillion dollars! The Peace Ribbon is shown in Gainesville [Florida] as part of the cost of war display."

Two panel-making workshops are scheduled for January 2012, and mothers still ask if their sons/daughters can have panels made for them. (The answer is yes, and there is no charge to the families.) Jacque is doing her own self-reflection on how long this "solemn" and very sad project will continue. Most of the panels are at Tucson right now, in the care of local coordinator Mary DeCamp.

To help, or if you have questions, please contact Jacque at  jacque[at]codepinkalert.org.


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