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Have you ever been driving and gone back because you saw something so breath-taking you just had to stop, take a photo and share it? Today, I was driving home when I passed this sight. I had to drive around the block and back to the church’s parking lot, because I could not let that moment pass by.
The front lawn of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on the Green in Norwalk, CT has 5,481 flags on it. Each one represents a US soldier who has given his or her life for this country in Afghanistan or Iraq. It’s easy to ignore a death toll until you are given a visual reminder. That number is not so staggering as wars past, but why should even one person have to lose a life? Why should one mother or father or spouse or child have their child or spouse or parent taken away?
Look, I’m not going to get all political on you. Whether I am for or against the war in the Middle East is not the point. I lost twenty people in 911. I have friends who lost over 100. I have heard countless hair-raising stories of survival from that day and close calls from my own family members.
Mine is a comment on the preciousness and precariousness of human life. How do we take this in? How do we put our heads around it? When do we stop fighting and learn how to love one another – no matter our skin color, or politics or faith?
It took me back to this moment in time – Summer of 1991 – last stop on the continent. I had backpacked solo across Europe and spent my last weekend in Normandy. I will never forget staring out at a sea of crosses with an occasional star of David.
Imagine what it must have been like for the people who came together to install these flags. Can you envision them talking about how they would ever fit over 5,000 flags on the lawn? Thinking – should we put in a path or just make it a sea of flags? Walking through the path is so moving. Did someone carefully plan it out and draw it up? Or did it evolve in that organic way projects do when a group comes together?
Were they thinking what price do we pay for needing to be right? What price freedom? What price peace?
Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace…
You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one
(Photos of Normandy and Imagine from latribune.fr and konradprojects.net respectively)