One little known Memorial Day event took place at Waterfront Park in Portland on Monday. Forty or fifty people gathered at the Salmon Street Fountain for the Code Pink Memorial Ribbon Walk, including members of Northwest Veterans for Peace and members of women's peace groups "Code Pink" and "Women in Black."
Organizers unfurled a fifty-foot pink ribbon bearing the names of the more than 800 U.S. military who have died in Iraq since March 2003. Participants took their places along the ribbon to help carry it along the riverfront. A few participants also carried signs honoring the Iraqi civilians and military killed in the Iraqi invasion and occupation.
The parade proceeded in respectful silence along the riverfront. Reaching the Japanese American Historical Plaza Bill of Rights Memorial, the group formed a circle and together sang Amazing Grace. Finally, the troops who gave their lives in Iraq were honored and remembered by a reading of the 800-plus names.
Unfortunately, this moving and respectful event was marred by an intrustion from an onlooker. A young woman riding her bicycle along the riverfront, apparently mistaking our silent and solemn memorial parade for a protest, shouted "Support our troops!" at us in a loud and angry voice. To this young lady, we would like to say:
"You want us to support our troops? We do support our troops. We spent many hours planning this memorial parade. We created this memorial ribbon, finding and attaching to the ribbon the names of the more than 800 U.S. military who have given their lives in Iraq. We brought together a group of people to carry the ribbon of names on Memorial Day. We carried the ribbon of names along the riverfront in a silent and solemn tribute. We stood together for an hour reading the names aloud. This is what we did to honor and remember our troops. What did you do on Memorial Day to honor and remember our troops?"