Hill Of Crosses - Iraq War Dead Soldiers
Across from the Lafayette BART station, an entire hillside has been covered with stark white crosses -- one for every American soldier killed in Iraq. It resembles a crowded military cemetery, just without the attention to order and straight lines. A large sign shows the current death tally.
With permission from the owner of the private property, anti-war activist Jeff Heaton put up the first crosses in November of 2006, in full sight of the commuter parking lot and San Francisco-bound rapid transit trains. The Hill of Crosses seemed to us to take a page from the anti-abortion protest playbook -- we've seen plenty of public displays of little white crosses representing tiny unborn lives.
The Hill of Crosses immediately attracted a lot of attention -- from protesters, from supporters, from vandals... and from commuters, who had to discern if it was honoring the troops or criticizing the war, and then still go to work. The City Council ruled to not limit the amount of crosses permitted in the display, however a local signage ordinance forced the death tally sign to be reduced in size. The cross count continues to grow, aided by "cross volunteers" -- with more added twice each month. In August 2011, the group decided to add no more crosses, capped at nearly 5,000. There was no more room. The sign will continue to be updated with the current death tally.
Visitors can park briefly in the commuter lot and carefully traverse the road via the crosswalk. The steep hill is packed with wooden crosses, carefully whitewashed on the front (the backs are a little sloppy). Interspersed among the crosses are some Stars of David, a Buddhist wheel, and an Islamic crescent.