Cross Stitchers Memorialize 30 Years' Terror Victims
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, July 9, 2002 Elizabeth A. Barnes of Hampton Roads, Va., is using her needlework skills to memorialize terrorism's victims.
Elizabeth A. Barnes made this cross-stitched square to honor Spc. Craig Amundson, one of about 4,000 people who've lost their lives to terrorism over the past 30 years. Barnes is heading a volunteer project to create a memorial flag 35 feet high by 62.5 feet wide of cross- stitched squares made by volunteers across the country and overseas. Photo by Elizabeth A. Barnes.
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Barnes heads an ambitious volunteer cross-stitching project involving people across the nation and overseas. Her goal is to create a flag of cross-stitched squares 35 feet high and 62.5 feet wide with the names of those who died not just in the Sept. 11 attack, but in all the terrorist attacks over the last 30 years.
The daughter of a Navy enlisted man, Barnes is married to Petty Officer 2nd class James W. Barnes, an electronics technician assigned to a naval communications station in Hampton Roads. She said the Sept. 11 attack made her angry and scared.
"Since my husband was in the military, I couldn't help but remember the bombing of the USS Cole the previous year," Barnes said. Up until Sept. 11, she added, terrorism was something that happened overseas. "Even though you knew it was there, you never truly expected it to come to America."
Deciding to do what she could to help, Barnes originally came up with the flag idea honoring the Sept. 11 victims and the sailors who died in the attack on the destroyer Cole. As she began researching terrorist attacks on the Internet, however, she learned of many other attacks over the last 30 years.
"I don't remember hearing about 90 percent of them," she said. "I was about 7 when the bombing at the Marine barracks in Beirut happened." For three weeks, she combed the Web compiling a list of terror victims. "I know I didn't get them all," she said.
Her list includes about 4,000 names of service members and civilians who died at terrorists' hands overseas and at home. Most recently, she added Daniel Pearl, the journalist executed in Pakistan, and Mark Burnham, the missionary hostage killed during a rescue attempt in the Philippines.
The list also includes 219 Marines, 18 sailors and four soldiers who died in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1983; the 198 people killed in the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing near Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988; the 168 people who died in the 1995 Murrah Federal Building explosion in Oklahoma City, Okla.; the 19 airmen who died at Khobar Towers in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, in 1996; and the 17 sailors who died on the USS Cole in Yemen in 2000.
Once she had her list of names, Barnes knew she needed help with the project so she distributed about 500 flyers in her base housing neighborhood asking for volunteers to help. To her dismay, no one responded. Disheartened but undaunted, she put flyers in a local cross-stitch store and about 15 people responded. An announcement in her church bulletin drew a few more volunteers.
When the Navy Times and her husband's hometown newspaper in Chambersburg, Pa., published stories on the memorial flag, she said, things really got rolling. One volunteer set up a Web site for the project and other sites linked to it.
"When those articles came out," Barnes said, "I got about 400 people in a week and from there, it's been snowballing ever since."
Barnes and her husband designed patterns for the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, each military service and many other organizations. Volunteers provide their own materials at a cost of about $4 per square.
Depending on the needleworker's ability, Barnes said, a cross-stitch square can take from a few hours to a few days to make.
"They're really simple," she said. "It took me about four hours to cross-stitch the World Trade Center symbol. The Marine Corps symbol is the hardest. That one took me a few days."
About half of the people involved in the project have some connection to the military. "Most of the men who are helping are retired military," she said. "Some of my better cross-stitchers are men," she noted. A retired sailor, his wife and daughter, who live in Virginia, have done close to 300 squares.
Some who volunteer ask to do a certain name. "I know there are a few family members," Barnes said. "One woman's husband was in the World Trade Center's second tower. Another woman's best friend's daughter was in the first tower. I had one woman who picked a gentleman's name, a firefighter, because he had the same last name, even though they weren't related."
Right now, volunteers have completed about 2,000 squares. People across the country and in Canada, Scotland, the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, Japan, Guam and the Bahamas are working on another 700.
Barnes is still seeking volunteers to do another 1,500 squares. She hopes to have the flag finished by Sept. 11, the first anniversary of the terrorist attacks on America. She plans to take the massive flag to Washington, D.C., New York City and to the Beirut Memorial in North Carolina.
The flag "documents history that tends to be forgotten," she said. "I want it to be remembered."
Information on the project is available at www.memorialflag.org.