Anti-war activists Monday evening marked the 3,000 death of an American in the Iraq War by setting up wooden crosses in Bidwell Park and reading the names of area military personnel killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The somber candlelight vigil attracted about 80 people, just hours after the usual revelry accompanying the New Year wrapped up.
"We're here to mourn the lives lost, and we're here to renew our call for an end to the war and for the safe return of our troops home," said Colin Eager, executive director of the Western New York Peace Center.
Individuals took turns reading short biographies of 43 servicemen and servicewomen from Western New York and Rochester during the 40-minute gathering at Bidwell Parkway and Elmwood Avenue.
The handmade wooden crosses were labeled with a name, age and a date of death of an area service member killed since 2001.
The vigil was one of 293 being held around the country, Eager said.
If no one did anything to mark the loss of 3,000 service men and women, said Warrem Campbell of Buffalo, "what's going to happen is another day goes by and there's 3,020 deaths."
Soldiers such as Peter P. Tycz II of the City of Tonawanda, who died in Afghanistan in 2002, were remembered.
One reader explained how Eric J. Orlowski of Depew told his 3-year-old daughter, Cameryn, that he planned to take her to Disney World when he came home. He was killed in 2003.
Another reader paraphrased the aunt of Tomorio Burkett, killed in Nasiriyah, Iraq, in 2003, describing her nephew as a hero, "not because
he died in a war but because of the many lives he touched."
Ellie Dorritie of Buffalo took her mourning a step further.
Dorritie carried a sign asking people to consider the more than 600,000 people who have died in the Iraq War, according to some estimates.
"If we're talking about blood, we might as well talk about all of those human lives," she said. "People are being sacrificed in ways we don't talk about."
To applause, Martin J. Sawma of Buffalo read a resolution adopted last week by the Buffalo Common Council that urges Western New York's federal delegation to discontinue funding for the war.
The resolution blames the Bush administration for squandering $380 billion on a "failed war," costing the city $297 million and the state of New York $33 billion.