View Full Version : Tally of war deaths shows up next door to Duluth recruiting station

12-09-05, 08:19 AM
Tally of war deaths shows up next door to Duluth recruiting station
Larry Oakes, Star Tribune
December 9, 2005

DULUTH - A large sign went up Monday in the storefront next to the U.S. Army recruiting station in downtown Duluth.

What it says and how its message was received by the "Be-All-You-Can-Be" folks next door may well make it a sign of the times.

"Iraq," it says. "Remember the Fallen Heroes." Below, in black numbers changed daily, is a tally of the dead and wounded U.S. soldiers and the number of days the conflict has gone on.

It took only one day for Staff Sgt. Gary Capan from the recruiting office to walk over and politely ask Scott Cameron to take the sign down.

Cameron is a volunteer on the Steve-Kelley-for-governor campaign, which opened its northern Minnesota office next to the recruiting station last week.

Although the sign was Cameron's idea, Kelley, a DFL state senator from Hopkins, approved of displaying it in the window.

Cameron, a disabled and decorated Vietnam veteran, previously had the sign in his front yard. There, people stopped and left flowers or just thanked him, he said.

Capan wasn't thankful. According to Cameron, Capan explained that the tally was disturbing to some of the six recruiters working for him.

Cameron said that Capan also expressed concern about the chilling effect the sign might have on potential recruits. But in an interview Thursday, Capan said he's really not worried about that.

"I don't think it's bad for business," he said. "People are well aware that it's possible they may be shot and not come back. People are still joining all branches of the service."

Capan says he's just looking out for his recruiters.

"These people are my family," he said. "Those who have been to Iraq don't need to be reminded of someone they've lost every time they walk in or out of the office. I just asked that maybe out of consideration for them, it be moved somewhere else."

Meant to support vets

Both Cameron and Capan said they had a polite discussion in which they agreed on, among other things, the assertion that Americans need to finish training the Iraqi military before pulling out.

Cameron said he slept on Capan's request and consulted with campaign higher-ups, who left it up to him.

Kelley said Thursday that Cameron's sign is a sincere plea for people to remember the fallen, not an antiwar statement -- though he acknowledges that, like Cameron, he is personally against the war. He said getting office space next to the recruiting office was "pure happenstance."

Cameron decided to keep the tally going in the window. In explaining why, he talked about Vietnam, which he said was another mistake. There a bullet tore through his spine and shredded his left lung. Forty-six surgeries later, he spends much of his time advocating for better benefits for veterans.

Way too many Americans are insulated from the horror of war, and even the numbers, he said, adding that his sign will help them remember.

He said he was carrying a plate of cookies when he walked into the recruiting office Wednesday to give Capan his decision.

"He was cordial but said that 'until you take your sign down, I can't accept them,' " Cameron said. "I'm not going to do that."

Larry Oakes • 1-218-727-7344