By Rebecca Kemble on May 28, 2013

By Rebecca Kemble

The Madison-based Clarence Kailin chapter of Veterans for Peace installed a Memorial Mile along the shores of Lake Monona this past weekend. Consisting of nearly 7,000 small grave markers spanning a mile-long stretch of Atwood Avenue in Madison, the public art project is a chilling reminder of the year-by-year deaths of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan since 2001 (about 2,200) and Iraq since 2003 (about 4,488).

The silent rows of little white markers force passers-by to reflect on a small portion of the cost of the two undeclared wars the U.S. has been fighting for nearly twelve years: the deaths of American soldiers.

But the true cost of those wars is probably incalculable. When you add up the number of civilian deaths that are a direct result of the state-sponsored violence in Afghanistan (conservative estimates hover around 22,000) and Iraq (134,000) and factor in public health effects and the destruction of buildings, communities and clean water supplies, your mind boggles at the destruction. On top of that, the vast amount of fossil fuels and natural mineral resources used to fuel this war machine creates untold damage across the globe.

Here is a drive-by video of the Memorial Mile. Special thanks to all the volunteers who helped to install the grave markers and to Wade Fernandez for the beautiful music.

Rebecca Kemble reports for The Progressive magazine and website.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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