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Memorial Mile display

Veterans for Peace places simulated grave markers to create a Memorial Day tribute along Atwood Avenue.

My friend and Vietnam War veteran David Giffey will be emceeing the Veterans for Peace annual Memorial Day observance at 12:45 Monday next to the Gates of Heaven synagogue in James Madison Park along the shores of Lake Mendota.

While the Vets for Peace observance is just one of many that will take place throughout the area Memorial Day, it's a favorite of mine because it not only remembers the tens of thousands of young men and women who have died in service to their country, but it calls attention to how important it is that as a country we work for peace and end the wars that make Memorial Day necessary.

In addition to today's program, Veterans for Peace is again sponsoring a “Memorial Mile” display of more than 6,675 simulated grave markers to acknowledge U.S. deaths in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The Memorial Mile display, May 23 to May 30, is located along Atwood Avenue east of Olbrich Botanical Gardens. It's a solemn reminder that is well worth going out of your way to experience.

If somehow the world could achieve peace, we wouldn't have to add hundreds of new graves to our cemeteries each year and cause grief and sadness for more and more families.

In fact, I have long maintained that Memorial Day serves the greater purpose of reminding us all of the terrible price that war exacts on the country and its people.

The Vets for Peace program at James Madison Park this year includes Madison minister and UW community relations director Everett Mitchell speaking about "Resisting Narratives of War"; former Madison police chief the Rev. David Couper giving a  "Keeping the Peace" invocation; and retired state AFL-CIO President David Newby discussing "U.S. Labor Against War." There will be music, poetry and a spoken word performance, and students from area high schools will be honored for their submissions to the annual Veterans for Peace essay and scholarship competition on "Why I believe war is not the answer."

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These messages deserve to be heard on a day when we mourn the fallen who have been sent to war sometimes to defend our freedoms, and other times for reasons that still baffle us.

Dave Zweifel is editor emeritus of The Capital Times. dzweifel@madison.com and on Twitter @DaveZweifel

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