Afghanistan War Ends in New Haven

by Thomas Breen, New Haven Independent, Oct 8, 2021

Twenty years to the day after the United States first bombed the Taliban, New Haveners officially put an end to one home front of the Afghanistan War — by laying a final stone commemorating last month’s military and civilian deaths from “forever wars” in the Middle East.

A dozen anti-war activists turned up Thursday night for that somber, cathartic ritual at the Broadway Triangle bounded by Broadway, Elm Street, and Park Street.

Some form of this group has been laying a stone every month at this site since December 2007. For the last time, Thursday night they placed atop a roughly 200-piece cairn a round, smooth stone inscribed in white with the number of U.S. military, Iraqi civilian, and Afghan civilian deaths from the month prior.

“Our last stone: September 2021,” Ioanna Gutas read as her peace compatriots stood in a circle around the diamond-shaped, makeshift memorial.

“No U.S. military killed. Civilians in Iraq: 40. In Afghanistan: 200.”

As the sun set, lights flickered on from Broadway’s shops and restaurants. The shadow cast by the nearby 20-foot-tall Civil War memorial grew longer. All eyes remained fixed on the pile of stones that had just received its final tribute.

“I learned a long time ago that there are things that are futile, but necessary. They have to be done,” said Stephen Kobasa, who helped found the memorial 14 years ago and who has attended nearly every stone-laying ceremony at the site on the first Monday of the month at 6 p.m. ever since.

“The witness has to be given. And the fact that we have done something to remember the dead is no small thing. It’s not everything. It hasn’t changed the outcome. But it has testified to another way of seeing the world, and I think we can lift that up and celebrate that.”

[The article can be read in its entirety at https://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/peace_cairn/]

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