Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes
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John Hollenhorst ReportingA Layton man who's concerned about the death toll in Iraq has learned that a few of his neighbors don't appreciate his freedom of speech. But he doesn't plan to change his tune anytime soon.
You may not have realized the American death toll in Iraq today rose to 1340 today. A lot of people on Antelope Drive in Layton already knew that because Mike Norton makes sure they know the number, every day.
Almost every day Mike Norton goes to his computer to download the latest bad news. 1340 dead, and that's just the Americans. Then he collects the latest photos of those who paid the ultimate price.
Mike Norton, Layton: “It’s very frustrating to see us spending so much time, money, and most importantly, blood in Iraq when Osama Bin-Laden is planning his next attack.”
Then he steps into his front yard to spread the news to his neighbors. He updates his sign, hoping that someday the big number at the top will stop growing.
He keeps the growing photo gallery under a sheet of plexi-glass, an honor roll that does not include the ten thousand wounded.
Mike Norton: “They’re getting legs shot off and arms shot off. They’re losing their eyesight.”
He calls it a living memorial. Most memorials don't change, he says, but sadly, this one does. He started his protest around election-time with anti-Bush signs. Since then, he's counted nine acts of vandalism, and many acts of a harassment, especially late-night blasts from car horns. It continued after he switched to his Memorial theme.
Mike Norton: “About three weeks ago somebody came by in the middle of the night and spray painted the entire thing with red spray paint. It’s sad when you have to put up security cameras to protect your freedom of speech.”
But other passersby have anonymously dropped off flowers and Teddy Bears. They evidently support Norton's idea of protesting the war while honoring its victims.
Mike Norton: “A free Iraq to me is not worth the loss of 1400 soldiers, Americans.”
Norton says the father of a young man who died in Iraq knocked on his door one day. The grieving man eventually decided the sign was OK because Norton's heart was in the right place and he was not attacking those who have paid such a heavy price.