The sands of Huntington Beach, Calif., became the home of the Arlington West Memorial, an installation of 3,987 crosses. Each cross represented a fatality of the Iraq war that started five years ago.
About 350 people gathered on the beach Saturday to protest and mark the anniversary of the war.
Themed as "How many more? Resist, resist the war!," the Orange County Peace Coalition brought together various groups committed to ending the war, including Students for Peace and Social Justice, a student organization at California State University at Fullerton.
The protest was meant to support the soldiers while voicing concerns, make people aware and get the soldiers home, Nicole Rhoton, a representative for SPSJ, said.
Thousands of Americans have died but people do not think about the ramifications the war has on the soldiers, Rhoton, an American History graduate student, said.
"It's really up to the people to get us out of the war. We can't be apathetic about it just because we don't think [protesting] will make a difference," she said.
Today, however, people do not have to have a personal connection to those involved in the war and can be indifferent, Rhoton added.
"We [Americans] are supporting the war and unnecessary deaths of soldiers and Iraqi civilians," she said of the lack of action among Americans as tax dollars fund the war.
Carrying signs that read "Impeach Bush" and "Bring our troops home," about 300 of the protesters lined up and marched in silence through Main Street Promenade to commemorate those lost in the war and to remind people that war affects everyone.
Many wore green shirts that read "How many more?" in the front and had a fallen soldier's name on the back.
Alejandra Taboada, a student from Orange Coast College, wore the name Sergeant Shawn Adams, who died on July 22, 2007.
Many coalitions gathered for a resource fair, including the American Friends Service Committee, a humanitarian organization dedicated to nonviolence.
The committee wanted people to know what the war is costing daily in lives and money, Steven Gibson, the Los Angeles area program director, said.
One day of the Iraq war costs $720 million, which can instead fund 34,904 four-year university scholarships and give 163,525 people health care, signs read.
Most of the problems in Iraq, including the displacement of four million Iraqis, are a direct result of the military occupation, Gibson said. It began unjustly and troops should leave Iraq immediately, he added.
Martha Carbajael was sitting on the steps holding a sign that read "Bring Daddy Home" as she watched her grandson playing. Her son, Daniel Moreno, 26, left on his fourth tour of Iraq on Dec. 26, 2007.
"We've always been against the war and now he [Moreno] is, too. He tells us 'there's no point anymore. Nothing changes,' " Carbajael said.
Attendees had the chance to hear testimonials from Iraq war veterans who are now against the war.
Sean McAllister, a member of Veterans Against the War, spoke on behalf of his fellow soldiers who he wants to see come home soon. He asked the rest of America to "please wake up."
"You have no idea what is going on there. There is a war going on. It's going on right now," McAllister said.
He asked others to support the troops regardless of the crimes in Iraq.
"Many signed up believing the war was a good thing, but they're being betrayed," Pat Alviso of Military Families Speak Out, said.
The organization provides support for military families.
"They have sworn to hold up the Constitution, not do whatever the president says," she said. "Our families did not sign up for this occupation and invasion to kil women and children."
The families of the soldiers are especially prone to heartache and being "scared to death that [they] might get that phone call," Alviso said.
Helga Aguayo, a military wife, attested to the distress she and her family endured. Her daughters were left in tears as her husband was taken abruptly in the middle of the night by military officials, she said.
Her husband Agustin, an army medic, also spoke at the event and commended the audience for being there.
"You are not sleepwalking like the rest of America," he said.
The military always told him to do the right thing. However, as time went on that meaning became blurred.
"Everything was started on premises that weren't ethical, that weren't moral, that weren't right," he said.
He refused to deploy to Iraq and chose peace and jail time over combat.
"I hope they walked away angry enough to stop this war," Alviso said of the protesters.
© 2008 Daily Titan via U-WIRE