Craig A former Hayden resident and widow of a soldier killed in Iraq has sharp words about a Flagstaff, Ariz., T-shirt distributor she believes is dishonoring the name of her late husband.
Vendor Dan Frazier uses a Web site to sell anti-war T-shirts that include the names of fallen Iraq war veterans. One of the shirt styles includes the phrase, "Bush lied" on the front, and "They died," on the back.
"It just makes you want to cry," said Sherri Lawton, wife of the late Staff Sgt. Mark A. Evans-Lawton, namesake of the Craig American Legion Post. "I can't believe anyone would go to such lengths to make a profit. They have no right."
Evans-Lawton, a Hayden resident and 1982 graduate of Moffat County High School, died from enemy gunfire in August 2003 while riding in a convoy north of As Suaydat, Iraq. Three years after his death, in August 2006, the Craig American Legion hosted a dedication ceremony renaming the local post the Mark Evans-Anthony Lawton American Legion Post No. 62.
Sherri Lawton attended the ceremony, as did her and Mark's two sons, Dustin, 8, and Tanner, 5.
Sherri Lawton said her husband was a fervent supporter of the war. He believed in the mission and would be appalled knowing his name was being used in the manner it is on the T-shirts, she said.
"He'd have hated it," Sherri Lawton said. "He would have been furious about someone saying such a thing.
"He believed we're doing the right thing by being there and helping those people."
Neither Frazier nor a representative from the Web site selling the shirts could immediately be reached for comment Thursday. The shirts sell for $20 to $22 and contain the names of 3,461 fallen Iraq veterans, according to the Web site.
The Web site includes the following section on the three different styles of T-shirts:
"Selling these shirts is illegal in five states and may soon be illegal nationwide," the site reads. "With your support we will continue to sell these shirts in all 50 states until the troops come home or they throw us in jail, whichever comes first."
Sherri Lawton said she became aware of the T-shirt after watching a segment on Fox News. Learning that her late husband's name was being used made her "absolutely sick inside."
"When Mark came home to me I was told I 'owned' his body - does this not include his name?" she said. "I should have a right to keep someone from using his name for their goals and profits. Mark would never agree to his name being used in this manner. It feels like a violation to our loss and rights."
Sherri Lawton and her two sons moved to Wasola, Mo., a year after Mark died. She has contacted the Missouri governor and a state Congresswoman, and Fox News' O'Reilly Factor regarding the T-shirts in hopes they might do something to prevent her husband's name from being used.
She is asking local community members to also contact their lawmakers.
"This is not something I want, and hopefully they will make the calls with me," Sherri Lawton said. "If enough people call, they'll hear it. : If we can get this stopped, hallelujah."
Craig American Legion commander Mel Shockley also had harsh words about the T-shirt distributor when he learned of the situation Thursday afternoon.
"That makes me madder than hell," he said.
He said he would inform American Legion members about the situation, and they would most likely petition their lawmakers in hopes of putting a stop to the T-shirts.
"I think it's disgusting," Shockley said. "I think it's in very bad taste, and that people who do things like that should be in jail. It'll never happen, and it's a shame.
"All they're trying to do is make a buck."