Veterans Day: How crosses and mementos help these Marines remember fallen comrades

Veterans Day: How crosses and mementos help these Marines remember fallen comrades

But many members of the public don’t have a clear understanding of what service means to people in the military. How do they honor their own? What kind of spaces and activities help them reflect and remember – beyond one day a year?

We are cultural geographers who study how people’s emotions and connections with the past are represented physically in landscapes.

Thirteen hundred feet above the base, more than 30 crosses stand on a hillside – a memorial site established in 2003. Before deployment to Iraq, a group of seven service members – two Marine officers, two enlisted Marines, two Navy corpsmen and one Navy chaplain – carried a cross made of an old telephone pole up to the site. It was an effort to remember a peer they lost and to prepare for the mission ahead of them. Three of the seven were later killed in action.

“Those mementos represented that suffering, that pain, that loss, that anguish, that angst, whatever it was” that service members needed to leave behind, Radetski said. The site is not always clean and neat, but he suggests it reflects the messiness of war and the traumatic experiences of the veterans who visit the site regularly.

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