In May 2004, a group of 12 Atascadero High School students gathered to conceive, design, and create the exhibit “The Faces of War: a Peace Memorial.” As conscientious objectors, their intent was to express their opposition to war through the arts. They hoped to voice their compassion for families and friends of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq while demonstrating their honest refusal to support warfare.
The resulting art piece took the form of multiple four-by-five-foot wire panels hung with “metal dog tags” displaying the faces of dead soldiers. After many hours of work, the piece was first displayed in the SLO Mission Plaza on July 4, 2004. The group grew members, accomplished new art projects, won local awards and media acknowledgement, and were sent on two trips to Washington, D.C., all the while keeping their work in the public eye. The piece has been moved a final time from the windows of the old Pier One building.
I thank the community for support, but most of all, thanks to Young Objectors United To End War for their willingness to speak from their creative hearts about the tragedy of war.