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Veterans Day Weekend To Include March: candlelight vigils to be held in Arlington West Memorial

Veterans’ for Peace Veterans Day weekend program at Arlington West Memorial on the beach north of the Santa Monica Pier will span three days and two nights, Friday, November 11, through Sunday, November 13.

The group has set up a field of crosses every Sunday since February 15, 2004, with each cross representing an American soldier killed in the Iraq War. On that first day, there were 540 crosses. Last Sunday there were over 2042 crosses.

Friday morning, at 7:30 a.m. Arlington West will once again be erected. L.A. Congresswoman Maxine Waters has been invited to be present when the crosses are placed in the sand.

Beginning at 2 p.m., speakers will mark Veterans Day by reading the names of the fallen soldiers every hour on the hour. A gong will sound as each name is read.

The speakers will include Santa Monica City Councilman Kevin McKeown, Abdul Henderson, an Iraq War Veteran, featured in Michael Moore’s film Fahrenheit 9/11, Tim Goodrich, Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran, Bill Mitchell, the son of Army Sergeant Michael Mitchell, 25, of Porterville, California who was killed in Sadr City, Baghdad on April 4, 2004 , along with Cindy Sheehan’s son Casey, and Joyce Riley, Gulf War veteran.

At 3 p.m. Aztec Dancers will perform. At 4:30, a candlelight vigil will begin. 1,000 candles will illuminate the field of 2,000 plus crosses and will burn through the night.

At 5:15, Iraq war vet Lance Corporal Jeff Key will play taps.

At 6:15, two films will be projected on a wall of the pier. A Line in the Sand and The Ground Truth.

On Saturday, November 12, from 7 to 11 a.m., volunteers will assemble 100 coffins and draped with flags.

At noon, a Veterans Day Procession will begin at Arlington West. 400 pallbearers will loop through the streets of Santa Monica. Gold Star families will lead the procession, carrying large photos of the members of their families who were killed in the Iraq war.

Among them will be Melanie House, of Simi Valley, whose husband, HM3 John D. House, 28, was killed near Ar Rutbah in western Iraq on January 26, 2005,

Vickie Castro, of Corona, whose son Army Spc. Jonathan Castro, 21, was killed in Mosul, Iraq on December 21, 2004, Bill Mitchell, Joanna Kubik, of Long Beach, whose boyfriend, Lance Cpl. Shane C. Swanberg, 24, of Kirkland, Washington, was killed in Ramadi, Iraq on Sept 15, 2005, and the Figueroa family whose son and brother, Lance Cpl. Luis A. Figueroa, 21, of Los Angeles, who was killed in Al Anbar Province, Iraq, on November 18, 2004.

Iraq War veterans, veterans from previous wars, elected officials, clergy, and members of the public are all welcome to serve as pallbearers. A total of 400 people are needed. To volunteer, call Tonia at (310) 455-2688.

At 12:45 p.m., four wreaths will be laid at the Veterans Monument in Palisades park by veterans from all wars, and members of the interfaith community will offer prayers of honor and remembrance at the monument.

At 2 p.m., back at Arlington West Memorial, various performers and speakers will appear, including Ron Kovic, wounded Vietnam Vet and author of Born on the 4th of July, Melanie House, Vickie Castro, and actor/activist Mimi Kennedy.

At dusk, the second candlelight vigil will begin with Jeff Key playing taps once again.

At 6:15 p.m. Arlington West , a documentary by Sally Marr and Peter Dudar, will be projected on the wall of the pier.

On Sunday, November 13, from 9:30 to 10 a.m., Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb, Director of Interfaith Inventions, will lead an interfaith ceremony of remembrance to commemorate the lives of those who have perished and to comfort those who remain.

At 11 a.m., filmmaker Bruce Royer will screen A Line in the Sand, a documentary about Arlington West that was directed by Leszek Burzynski at Laemmle Monica 4-Plex Theatre, 1332 Second Street in Santa Monica.

A Gold Star father, Bill Mitchell, and a member of Veterans for Peace member will speak following the screening.

At 12:30 p.m., the theater audience will walk to Arlington West Memorial for light refreshments with the veterans, Gold Star families and Arlington West supporters.

At 2 p.m., Gold Star Mother Jane Bright, of West Hills, whose son, Army Sgt. Evan Ashcraf, was killed in action in Mosul, Iraq on July 24, 2003, will be Joined by members of the interfaith community who will speak and read names of the fallen soldiers.At 4:30 p.m., the memorial will be disassembled and the crosses will be put away until the following Sunday, when it will be will be resurrected, as it has been every Sunday for the past 20 months.

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