Julie Stalmer 6:30 p.m., July 23
Camp Pendleton Memorial Day celebration includes monument to military suicides
Giant hole in the ground intended to signify "black pit of despair" that swallows over 6,000 veterans each year
Camp Pendleton's Black Hole memorial, seen from above
"Last year," says Camp Pendleton Director of Memorial Day Ceremonies Lawrence Kickbucket, "the number of United States military personnel who died from suicide exceeded the number who died in combat. Clearly, the time had come for some kind of memorial designed specifically for the poor souls who, even today, are dying at the rate of one every 18 hours."
"It's a tricky business," continued Kickbucket. "A lot of people feel uncomfortable honoring veterans who have done something that some people, including Fort Bliss commander Major General Dana Pittard, still consider to be a 'supremely selfish act.' [Ed. - Pittard retracted his statement, but still.] After all, Memorial Day is supposed to be honoring those who acted selflessly for our country's sake. But it's hard to escape the fact that veterans are killing themselves at a much higher rate than the rest of the country, and it seems logical to conclude that their misery somehow stems from their service. We felt the Hole was a fitting memorial. It's not a proud edifice; rather, it's a significant wound - something that makes folks uncomfortable when they get close to its edge. That's sort of the point."
More like this:
- In honor of Ernie and all veterans — Feb. 12, 2015
- Veterans for Peace makes its (grave) mark — Nov. 12, 2014
- Sorry, soldier — Nov. 10, 2014
- Atheists Propose Alternative to Camp Pendleton Cross — Dec. 28, 2011
- Forgotten Valor — Sept. 2, 2001