In April the number of U.S. casualties in Iraq dipped past the 3,300 mark. Numbers get bandied back and forth all the time, but does anyone ever stop and think about the actual number of the casualty rate? Well over three thousand U.S. citizens...three thousand. It seems almost impossible to truly imagine a number that size in actual individual units.
Lately people across the country have been erecting personal war memorials, usually using an item to stand for each fallen soldier. Rocks and stones have been popular, as have miniature crosses, baseballs, and of course ribbons on trees. But to truly stun people about the amount of life that has been lost, we suggest the following:
Construct a building out of the following toys...a house, a hospital, a school, a spaceship, anything. But, you can only use as many pieces as there are current war casualties (click here to stay up to date). And you MUST have every casualty represented...you can't crap out after only 1,500 bricks or whatever. If there are 3,892 at the time you start building, then you have to use 3,892 (and of course, should the rate go up as you build your number of supplies does as well, as crass as that may sound).
The point of this project is not meant to disrespect the memories of those who have been killed by Bush's war. Rather, it is to show in visual terms the amount of death we're talking about...and just on our side! And also, if one living person could build a house or school out of 3,300-plus toys, then imagine what 3,300-plus people could rather be doing if they were alive today.
If you'd like, you can e-mail pictures of your final (or rather, in-progress) project to our site, or you can keep it to yourself and make it your own personal memorial.
Here are some of ideas of what you can use....
A person can build anything out of LEGOs, and the more bricks they have the larger the final result. It really is amazing what can be done with those little colored plastic bricks. In the case of LEGOs, every single part is a separate piece representing a separate soldier. The base plate counts as one. Each part of each mini-figure counts as one. That odd three-pronged flower stem thing counts as one, while each flower top counts as one too. If you have to interlock a piece into another, then it's a separate piece.
There are tons of LEGO brick packs available, and some of the more basic "starter sets" contain anywhere from 487 to 674 pieces. And of course, the big friggin' Star Wars-related sets such as the one for the Star Destroyer can have as many as 1,366 pieces to them. Regardless, you'll have to buy in bulk.
God, the irony. Bush keeps a bust of Abraham Lincoln in the Oval Office and has always had aspirations to be regarded at the same level of greatness, yet the wooden toys that bear his name can be used to denounce the very fiasco Bush is doomed to be most remembered and vilified for. Now if we can only figure out something to do with teddy bears.
Like with LEGOs, Lincoln Logs come in a variety of multi-packs, although most hover in the range of only having between 100 and 200 pieces. So although it may get a little tedious (and expensive) to keeping buy the same 115 or 151 packs again and again, it seems to be the only way to collect over three thousand logs to use.
Ah yes, the favorite of preschools and kindergartens the world over, those hollow, lightweight colored boxes with faded brick printing on them. If any one toy screams "build something with me!", it's this one.
Unfortunately, they just aren't manufactured or sold for bulk use, as most available sets only offer 40 pieces. One would have to order over eight sets just to meet the current casualty rate, but think of the possibilities. One could build their own memorial/playhouse for the kids.
A little more old-timey are wooden blocks, which seem to be mostly used in conjunction with wooden train sets. We would strongly recommend against including trains in any of these projects, as it might give off an eerie Auschwitz-like vibe.
Again, sets of wooden blocks are pretty small, usually only offering 50 pieces. It would take time to gather up enough blocks, but imagine the final memorial!
Some of us know these better as "Bristle Blocks," those cool little squares and rectangles with the comb-like ends to interlock them with. Why these aren't more popular now in the age of paranoia-induced "safe" toys is a mystery.
While they don't come as heavily packed as, say, LEGOs, one can find Krinkles sets with more abundance than either wooden blocks or cardboard bricks. The best we could find was a set with an admirable 113 pieces. If you want a crazy-looking, visually starting memorial, to match the craziness and the startling nature of the war itself, then this is the toy to use!
So get building! Show everyone that you care about your fellow citizens and want to honor their memories. Maybe someone will see it and start to wonder if it has all been for naught.
Quote of the Month
"There are some similarities, of course (between Iraq and Vietnam). Death is terrible."
Bush in Republican-heavy Tipp City, Ohio for a faux "town hall" meeting on April 19
Link of the Month
Dennis Kucinich's MySpace!