Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Peace Activist and owner of Lafayette Crosses memorial dies at 86

Louise Clark, who owned the site where thousands of white crosses remind people of the cost of war, has passed away at 86.
It was she and Jeffrey Heaton who pioneered the memorial that inspired our crosses4peace movement.

May she know in death the peace she worked for in life.

War still going, crosses still standing

I received the following e-mail from the ever-vigilant, tireless activist, John Stephens:

"Lots of people still have their crosses up. I estimate about 30 are still left out of the original 80."

I've seen a few of them around town, John. It touches me.

For those of you who haven't been to see the crosses in Lafayette. You can see a street view on Google Maps. The address is 3596 Deer Hill Road. I'll try a link:,+ca&um=1&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x8085607ca3fa8f85:0xf928585d03e46927,Lafayette,+CA&gl=us&ei=iD9VTt-cKOvYiAKAjq3-DA&sa=X&oi=geocode_result&ct=title&resnum=3&ved=0CCwQ8gEwAg

If you'll make the trip, I promise you won't forget it. There's no substitute for real (i.e. non-virtual) reality.

I lived in Lafayette about 20 (yikes) years ago. While you're in the area, you might want to reflect with a walk around the Lafayette Reservoir.* You could also fish or rent a row boat and enjoy a picnic lunch and bird songs. Or you may prefer one of the many restaurants near Golden Gate Way and a window-shopping stroll down Mt. Diablo Blvd.

*The daily entry fee to the park is $6.00. Discounts for seniors and disabled persons are available also. To save $6, you can park down the hill and around the corner on Risa Road, then hike up the hill, maybe a mile. It's 1/2 flat, 1/2 steep and all shady. Definitely easier than living in Kandahar or Baghdad or...

Monday, April 28, 2008

Crosses4Peace at Beach Impeach 5.

My boys helped me load about 40 white crosses and a large white table that says "Thanks Vets and families". The only bumper sticker on the back of the black suv was a photo of a flag draped coffin with the words "WAR IS NOT PRO-LIFE" in white above. ($5.50 magnetized at

We rushed, got lost, but luckily the helicopter was late, too. Whereas past Beach Impeach events had an honest 1,000 and more attendees, this one had only about 300; due in part, no doubt, to the event's having been cancelled, then brought back to life. I've learned from experience that within 24 hours after word goes out an event is cancelled, most people will already have made other plans.

I didn't realize the Beach Impeach organizers had decided to spell just 1 or 2 letters at a time, I only saw that the "E" was empty, so I decided to fill it with crosses and 4 of the blue "War is Not the Answer" yard signs I agreed to distribute for the Friends Committee For National Legislation (a Quaker Lobby in the Public Interest Someone asked if I needed help, so I took his offer and we carried the "Thanks Vets and Families" sign down to the beach and used it to anchor the end of the center branch of the letter "E".

My sons and I joined the others standing in the form of one letter after another as the helicopter made loop after loop so the photograher could get the photos he needs. (Must've cost a small fortune to fuel the chopper) I, M, P... then we ran to the E and many folks chose to hold us the crosses. I kind of doubt they'll show up in the aerial photos, but they were still quite a hit. Several found new homes -- I didn't keep count. Ironically, Beach Impeach's webmaster, Steve Meiers, said he'd come up with an idea similar to ours and had independently placed a couple of white crosses in his yard after he heard about the Crosses of Lafayette.

After we finished spelling "IMPEACH BOTH!!", I left the crosses in the sand around the "Thanks Vets..." sign. Several photographers and videographers said the took pictures of the display. I know Shirley Golub was photographed, so we may see it soon at or maybe even "YouTube.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Post Script to Vallejo Times-herald article.

Post Script 12/8/07 :

Since Dan Judge's article appeared in the Vallejo Times-Herald (2 blogs down), we've distributed even MORE Crosses4Peace. I believe the number is approaching 280.

If you pass s-l-o-w-l-y through American Canyon Mobile home park, you'll see around 10 more crosses displayed by proud Americans who also stand for peace. I continue to see more in front yards every time I pass through beautiful old town Napa, too, thanks largely to John Stephens.

I heard from a delightfully vociferous Vallejo woman who's son(-in-law) was beginning his 3rd tour as a Marine, serving in Iraq. As you may know, the Marines asked to be moved to Afghanistan, but their request was denied by Defense Secretary, Gates. (cite below) She wanted to make it abundantly clear that she supported the troops 110% and she opposed the war just as much. But she NEVER, EVER wanted to see some of our country's greatest, bravest kids being treated as they were on returning from Viet Nam. I'm not quite old enough to remember, but I know a little about history and I couldn't agree with her more. She gave me permission to post this photo. She's, too, is an amazingly courageous lady. I'm beginning to believe the good guys are going to win, here, in America.

One quiet Sunday morning, I heard from Loana, who'd seen the article while visiting the Bay Area. She didn't have time to read it, so she stashed it in her suitcase to read when she returned to Louisiana. She called me to say she was going to build her own Cross4Peace. I told her about the directions on the main website, John's design works very well. It's a model of efficient engineering, particularly the pointed bottom that makes it easy for anyone with water and dirt to plant.

As we chatted further, she told me about her nephew, Derek Cathron, who lost his life in Iraq too soon. She told me about her sister's pain. Something so deep and lonely that it hurts to imagine even from the distance of my living room 1000's of miles away.
I want to officially offer my gratitude to Derek Cathron and his family and to every family grieving for a loved one lost in Iraq or Afghanistan. I will remember.

I want to offer my deepest condolence and sympathy to every family who lost an innocent relative or friend and to every person who’s lost his home and some sense of his dignity and security to these many conflicts in the Middle East.

I want to thank and support the wounded warriors like my friend’s brother (I don’t have permission yet to publish his name). He was wounded in Iraq, including injuries to his head. At some point during the military triage process, he said he was ambulatory, i.e. he could move and bath himself, etc. After all, many around him had lost legs or arms as he was not inclined to take scarce, but vital services away from his brothers and sisters in arms. He ended up in a large room where soldiers like him who had working limbs, were caring for others who had somehow claimed mobility, but couldn’t feed or get themselves to a bathroom. My friend, who’s seen plenty of ugliness right here, fights not to cry when she remembers how her brother was treated when he was most vulnerable. All he had was his family and his backpack. He clung to that backpack, she told me, like life itself. It had clean clothes, a calling card, a toothbrush and a cd player for company. I want to thank all you wounded warriors, and your families. I wish you all the fullest and fastest recoveries possible. May you always be remembered as the heroes you are.

I want to apologize to the people who have been unjustly imprisoned and tortured by our government and to their loved ones who must be tormented by not knowing, but imagining the worst. Too many of those who’ve had atrocities committed against them in our name were innocent. Some of them are still locked up in places like Guantanamo and other secret prisons around the world. I want you to know, many people are trying to stop this evil. We won’t forget. Torture is not about intelligence, it’s about control.

I want to thank and support the servicemen and women who are still there and those who are finally home safely. Whatever you’ve endured, I know you went there to do good and I’ll bet you did every chance you got. The Bible says there’s a time for war and a time for peace. I sincerely wish you less war and more peace. I can only offer you my respect, my gratitude and my tangible support. These organizations help me show my appreciation: and

Finally, among the cornucopia of peace workers in the world is a particularly courageous, steadfast and INFORMATIVE group, the Friends’ Committee for National Legislation. They provide information on military alternatives, how to become a conscientious objector, withholding taxes and other milder forms of protest like “Peace” bumper stickers and “War is not the Answer” yard signs. No matter how loudly the sabers rattled, the Friends (Quakers) have stood for peace and justice. Many folks ask “What Would Jesus Do?”. Too few do it.
Cite 1. AP article on Robert Gates' decision to keep the Marines in Iraq:

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Thanks Vets & Families

About once/month I "live blog" a highway intersection at the gateway to the Napa Valley, using Crosses4Peace as a reminder of the tragic costs of war. The star-spangled banner flies at half-mast because our countrymen are still dying in Iraq and Afghanistan. I turn a card table on it's side to use as a temporary billboard. The first time, the billboard stood behind the field of 38 simple white gravemarkers, asking "How many more?" On another day, I had great fun with "Honk 2 Impeach" placed further behind the crosses display. I did not want to imply the fallen soldiers were calling for impeachment. I don't claim to speak for them.

As you can imagine, most people were pretty excited and gave honks of support, waves, peace signs and the like. As you can also imagine, not everyone was so pleased. A passenger who was stopped at the light yelled "How dare you?! They died for your right to do that!" I replied he was correct and that just as my grandfather had fought against facism on the beaches of Normandy, I was fighting against it here.

Nevertheless, his reminder was timely. On November 10, 2007 I remembered what he said: "They died for your right to do that!". So, on Sunday, 11-11-07, I left the Crosses4Peace and "War is not the Answer" signs (provided by Friends Committee for National Legislation [FCNL]) at home. I made it to the "live blog site" at 1:00. Old Glory flew high and proud that day. I carried a smaller flag behind my billboard which read simply "Thanks Vets & Families". This day wasn't about hawks or doves (or even vultures with no bid contracts). It was about Americans, gratitude, respect and human decency.

I was apprehensive when the Wal-mart truck driver pulled over. Was he just checking some mechanical whatchamacallit or would he come to talk to me? Most people who stop usually say something kind, whereas harsh words are hollered from the safety of a car's interior, but I have been confronted personally before... so you never can tell. He was REALLY big and his black t-shirt proclaimed he was an "American Trucker". He extended a closed black-gloved paw (it was HUGE!). In my mind, I thought, I can't believe this big man is going to hit (li'l ole) me without even saying anything and I imagined what it would feel like when his fist met my face. That's when he opened his hand and gave me the firmest, yet warmest hand shake I've ever had. He said he wanted to thank me. Fortunately, I was standing uphill from him so I could see the sincerity in his light blue eyes. The repressed fear and emotion of the moment began leaking from my eyes. I was glad I was wearing sunglasses.

"Are you a Vet?," I inquired.

He said, "Yes."

I gauged his age. "Desert Storm?"

Still holding my hand, he nodded.

"I'm glad you're back." I said

"Thank you." He said, then turned to go. I blew him a kiss before as he merged into traffic.

It's ironic. I felt so vulnerable alone on the hill when he first came to me, but because of the warmth of his grip and the vulnerability behind his eyes, I stayed twice as long as I'd planned. I'd gone to make other people feel appreciated and important -- and I believe I did -- but I was the one who went home feeling more valuable that I had in years.

Is this still a great country, or what!

P.S. As I expected, this was the most well-received live highway blog -- as measured by honks, waves, peace signs and verbal high 5's -- I've ever hosted.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Crosses for Peace on the front page, again.

From Dan Judge at the Vallejo- Times Herald.

Crosses for peace

As the city of Napa increasingly begins to resemble a cemetery, organizers of a silent anti-war protest are getting their point across.

NAPA - If the white crosses appearing on front lawns throughout Napa are starting to make the city increasingly resemble a cemetery, the organizers of the silent anti-war protest are getting their point across.

The unique Crosses4Peace demonstration is meant to serve as a stark reminder of the deaths resulting from the war in Iraq, said John Stephens, a member of the grassroots group UNCOIL (United Napans Concerned Over Iraq Lunacy).

"We are appalled at the number of people who are dying - not just soldiers but also civilians," he said Thursday. "The idea is to remind ourselves and the community that people are continuing to die and our tax dollars are paying for this terrible consequence."

Since the campaign started last December, UNCOIL has handed out 77 (actually more like 223)of the 3-foot crosses to Napa residents who request them, said Stephens, a 63-year-old retired plumber at Napa State Hospital.

Some leave the crosses unadorned while others personalize them with messages such as "peace" or a Star of David, he said.

"It's a great anti-war protest," Stephens said. "When we have a demonstration, we stand out there one or two hours. With the grave markers, our protest of the war is out there 24 hours a day. It's a very powerful message."

The inspiration for the protest was a contractor named Jeffrey Heaton who, with the help of the Mount Diablo Peace and Justice Center, placed thousands of crosses on a privately owned hillside in Lafayette as a memorial to those killed in the war. The goal is to erect one cross for each fallen U.S. soldier.

Members of the Napa group found the message dignified and undeniable as well as one they would like to emulate.

Without enough land available to hold so many crosses, however, they elected to settle for a single cross on the lawn of anyone who wants to register their objections to the war.

UNCOIL member Summer Mondeau, 43, said a member of the Sonoma County Chapter of the Veterans for Peace put it best when he learned about the project.

"He said, 'Rather than putting 3,000 crosses in one place, the idea here is instead to put one cross in 3,000 places.' That summed it up rather nicely," she said. …

"I guess my wish is that that they just really understood what they've done - how much they've hurt the whole world," she said. "I guess this is my way of reminding them."

Mondeau added that anyone who would like to request one of the crosses free of charge can contact her by calling (707) 252-8242 or e-mailing

E-mail Dan Judge at or call 553-6831.

U.N.C.O.I.L. - United Napans Concerned Over Iraq Lunacy
WHO: Co-founded in early 2004 by Napa businessman, John Sensenbaugh
and physician, Dr. Eric Khoury

- Includes a working membership of well over 200

MISSION: To bring a swift end to the Iraq war

- Protests "the United States' questionable preemptive entry into war
with another sovereign nation"
- Promotes peace through responsible grassroots activism


Tuesday, May 1, 2007

to see the Crosses of Lafayette

I'd wanted to live highway blog today, but my son has baseball practice and my husband's at the Giants game, so I had opted for driveby freeway blogging while my kids (11, 9 & 8) were in school. (New to freeway blogging?

My newest good buddy, Shesh, joined me on a freeway blogging trek to the Crosses of Lafayette. We hung two banners facing southbound 680 on just before the 24west turnoff. The skyway we used has a view of Walnut Creek BART station. The first banner is in the photo:

The second banner, just next to it said: "US and Iraqi kids priceless". Then we headed toward the Crosses of Lafayette. These have been widely covered in the media. Before we got there, we stumbled upon a student demonstration -- in Lafayette (where the Upper Happy Valley looks down upon the Lower Happy Valley) !! Students from the local high school walked out to claim peace. See Katherine Tam's coverage (nice job!) in the Contra Costa Times Now, we were not freeway blogging on behalf of We were asserting our right to free speech -- certainly more critical to democracy than a billboard's right -- as individuals. Anyway, as the article mentioned, we happened to join the demonstration with an extra banner and two white crosses asking, "More War? call your Rep 1-202-224-3121" just before the police broke up the scuffle, but before the media left. My appreciate to Katherine Tam for including us -- even the website! And can I add how encouraged I am every time I see high school kids speaking out against this war. It is they, after all, who'll likely be drafted if we don't drastically and decisively change course.

We hung another banner over eastbound 24. This was the first time anyone ever said anything to us. As we were walking onto the pass over, she asked if we knew it was illegal. Shesh asked, "walking?" We ignored her, kept walking, and finally hung the banner. It's modeled after the bumper sticker which says, effectively "END THIS WAR" (it says"ENDLESS WAR", but LESS is replaced with "THIS")

We finally made it to the Crosses of Lafayette memorial. Shesh cried, too, just like I did the first two times I saw it.
We added two more crosses.

To our pleasant surprise, even after we took the time to stop for driveby food before heading home, the "END THIS WAR" sign was still there.