Iraq War Memorial to be Removed

Iraq War Memorial to be Removed

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Carole Mikita ReportingIf you drive along 1300 East in Salt Lake you have probably noticed the brightly colored sticks on a lot just north of the First Unitarian Church. The artists who created the unique memorial say it's time to end their statement.

Each stick in the garden of sorts represents an American killed in the Iraq War. The artists call it a combination memorial and protest, and have found that it has taken a toll on them.

Along a busy street sits the private protest. No raised voices, simply silent statements, one stick for each soldier who has died in Iraq.

Stan Roberts, Co-creator, Iraq War Memorial: "Every morning we were going on about the news and being appalled and being, we were feeling extremely helpless."

In other cultures sticks are often used to represent people's lives or achievements. Artists Stan Roberts and Dave Starks conceived the idea. Dozens of others, young and old, Democrat, Republican, contributed as the number of dead continued to rise.

Stan and Dave: "This took the anxiety away, it took the anger away. It helped our psyche a lot."

The decor on each branch differs--ribbons, flowers, poetry, even images that expresses anger. So many of the sticks have personal items attached to them. One has part of Dave Starks' uniform, he served in Vietnam.

Dave Starks, Co-creator, Iraq War Memorial: "I've been in a few peace marches in Salt Lake in the old days, but this is different. There's more art involved in this, rather than just screaming. It's a quiet scream, maybe."

They say their memorial has become emotionally draining, so the Unitarian Church members will plant a garden on the lot. When they remove the sticks the artists hope their number, their artistry are remembered.

Dave Starks: "If we influence one person, that's enough."

This Memorial weekend they will add the right number of sticks to bring current the number killed in Iraq, then they will begin dismantling. They don't yet know what they'll do with the sticks.

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