By: Kimberly Miller
In the 1960s, Charlie Thomas (WWC ’65) gathered stones from local farms
to help build the College Chapel. It was his first encounter with
Forty years later, Thomas is still collecting stones. On a donated lot
near downtown Asheville, he and dozens of others are building a Peace
Park that contains a wall made from engraved stones commemorating the
lives lost during the Iraq War. Each stone bears the name, age, and
hometown of a fallen serviceperson. The memorial wall is the first
constructed before a war has ended.
A dozen Warren Wilson students came to the site recently to help
construct the wall. Many of the students were volunteers from Paul
Magnarella’s Introduction to Peace Studies class. The jobs ranged from
carrying cinder block to cementing stones onto the wall to clearing the
land. The volunteers made a visible difference in the park which has
been under construction for only about three months.
“We’re out here every Saturday from 9-4,” Thomas said. “This is an
ongoing project that’s going to take a lot of commitment to complete.
We’ll be here until the war is over.”
Aside from U.S. casualties, the Peace Park will house a visual
representation of the loss of Iraqi life. Some ideas include a fountain,
a pile of pebbles, or a reflection pool.
“We don’t value American lives more," said one volunteer. "We just know
that American names will have the greatest impact in the U.S.”
The park is located on 130 Courtland Ave. in the Montford area of
Asheville. Stones can be purchased for $25 each. More information is
available at http://www.iraqwall.org .