Costs of Wars display at West Beach  (April 3, 2016)

Paul Wellman

Costs of Wars display at West Beach (April 3, 2016)

Arlington West Evolves into Costs of Wars

Twice monthly for about a decade, volunteers with Veterans for Peace installed thousands white crosses on the beach between Stearns Wharf and Santa Barbara Harbor, a poignant reminder of American lives lost during the Iraq War. The installation, known as Arlington West, paid homage to soldiers laid to rest at Washington, D.C.’s Arlington National Cemetery. “We did 10 years, then it seemed like nobody gave a damn anymore,” said Korean War veteran Ron Dexter, who’s been with the project since 2003. “So we took a year off and kicked around ideas about what people might respond to. We’re just trying to wake people up.”

While the spirit of the mission remains the same, Dexler added, its message has deepened and the name has changed to Costs of Wars. Beyond lost American lives, the installation showcases mounting numbers of refugees, entire regions in the Middle East destabilized by war profiteers, and the thousands of returning young soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

“There is a simmering stew of discontent in this country,” said Bill Palmisano, an installation volunteer for 12 years. “The Occupy movement caught our self-appointed masters by surprise. Bernie Sanders is giving them heartburn and insomnia. There is no good defense against a peaceful movement for radical change, and I consider this installation a powerful device in the fight against war as an instrument of foreign policy. Plus, I get to work with the most caring, sharp, and engaged group of activists.”

Costs of Wars goes up again on May 1. Volunteers are welcome; setup starts at 8:30 a.m., and takedown is at 4 p.m.

To submit a comment on this article, email or visit our Facebook page. To submit information to a reporter, email

Be succinct, constructive, and relevant to the story. Leaving a comment means you agree to our Discussion Guidelines. We like civilized discourse. We don't like spam, lying, profanity, harassment or personal attacks.

comments powered by Disqus
event calendar sponsored by:

Body of Los Angeles Firefighter Found in Montecito Mountains

Captain Wayne Habell had been reported missing on August 13.

Natural Disaster Federal Loan Update

The U.S. Small Business Administration offers low rates.

Laura’s Law Program Praised by County 

The Assisted Outpatient Treatment program tackles serious mental-health issues.

Front Fire Tops 1,000 Acres in Los Padres National Forest

Containment was estimated at 5% on Monday morning.

Runner-Up Protests City Pot Pick

SGSB says retail selection result was "manifestly unfair."