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UVSC spotlights war’s toll

Professors, students reading the names of 7,000 casualties

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UVSC students Esther Stokes and Abby Dietz read the names of Americans and Iraqis killed in the Iraqi war.

OREM — Under overcast skies and in a chilly wind, students and professors at Utah Valley State College leaned into microphones and read solemnly the names of Americans and Iraqis killed in the Iraq war.

They named people such as Todd J. Bolding, a Marine lance corporal killed June 3, 2004. He was 23. And they named Mahir Yassin, an adult male found in west Baghdad in July 2005 among others who were tied and shot or had their throats cut.

The reading of names is a memorial for the people who have died since the war began in 2003.

"We're trying to bring to memory the cost of war, the scale of death," said Michael Minch, philosophy professor and director of UVSC's peace and justice studies program, which is hosting the event that started Tuesday. "Now, of course, we've also made it clear this is not a partisan debate. People can draw their own conclusions."

The memorial will continue today from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the quad, west of the Sorensen Student Center, or inside the student center if the weather is inclement.

Political and partisan commentary is prohibited because it's a memorial.

The peace and justice studies program, with members of the United for Peace and Justice Club, remembered Thai Vue, 22, an Army specialist who died June 18, 2004.

And Pedro Contreras, 27, who was a Marine lance corporal who died June 21, 2004, according to the list of names.

Nour-al-Din Mohammed was a police officer killed in Kirkuk on July 24, 2005. Bashir Toma Elias, 48, owned a liquor store. He was killed by gunfire in Basra's bazaar on Dec. 24, 2003.

Their names, too, were read at UVSC.

It will take 10 hours to read about 7,000 names of casualties, with about 40 students and professors alternating between American and Iraqi names.

Organizers wanted to name all U.S. deaths that have been confirmed by the Department of Defense — almost 3,300. Not all the names of Iraqis killed in the war will be read, however. Estimates by nongovernmental organizations put the death toll of Iraqi soldiers and civilians at 650,000.

Organizers of the memorial at UVSC obtained names from iraqbodycount.org.

They will read one Iraqi name for every American name, reading through about 300 pages of names in all.

"I think that it shows we're concerned about both, the Americans and the Iraqis who have died so Iraq might have a democracy," said psychology professor Bob Norton, who read names and observed other names being read.

Although not every such memorial in the United States names Iraqi casualties, Norton, who has lived in the Middle East, said Iraqis are remembering their own.

"Typically, Iraqis, when they do such a thing, they read the Sura in the Quran, which is similar to the Lord's Prayer," he said.

E-mail: lhancock@desnews.com