Sherri Lawton, widow of the late Staff Sgt. Mark A. Evans-Lawton, receives a wooden case for the American flag during an August 2006 ceremony honoring her husband and renaming the Craig American Legion Post after him. Sherri Lawton, a former Hayden resident, is asking the community to contact their state lawmakers in hopes of stopping a Flagstaff, Ariz., distributor from selling anti-war T-shirts decorated with the names of fallen Iraq veterans.

File photo

Sherri Lawton, widow of the late Staff Sgt. Mark A. Evans-Lawton, receives a wooden case for the American flag during an August 2006 ceremony honoring her husband and renaming the Craig American Legion Post after him. Sherri Lawton, a former Hayden resident, is asking the community to contact their state lawmakers in hopes of stopping a Flagstaff, Ariz., distributor from selling anti-war T-shirts decorated with the names of fallen Iraq veterans.

Widow of soldier 'sick' over anti-war T-shirts

— 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."

Comments

Tom3 6 years, 7 months ago

I have one of these T-shirts. It is banned in two states already. The names on it are public records in the public domain. This is a free speech issue. The right wing wants to shut down all dissent.

Sherri Lawton is angry because her husband's name is in two-point type (barely legible) with 2000 other names on a T-shirt against the war.

Sherri Lawton should be angry because her husband died for oil and war profiteering. Nothing else. He didn't die to protect us from WMDs, there weren't any. He didn't die to avenge 9-11 because Saddam and Iraq had nothing to do with that dastardly terrorist attack on the US.

We did not go to Iraq to give them freedom. Iraq just threw out Blackwater but they are still operating as normal. This is proof that the US does not recognize Iraqi sovereignty and Iraq still has no freedom.

Sorry, Sherri, but I'm going to keep wearing my t-shirt with your husband's name on it. No disrespect intended. Bush lied, and he died.

Stop buying the lies.

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nikobesti 6 years, 7 months ago

Tom3, I mostly agree. However, don't tell her how she should feel ("Sherri Lawton should be angry because her husband died for oil and war profiteering.") The fact is, our troops as well as their families are as split on the war as other Americans are. Many widows and parents are very angry about the war continuing. So everyone, lets not pretend we are speaking for all widows, or all soldiers, etc.

The fact is, the names of those who have died in this war is public record. You cannot throw people in jail for reproducing them on the news, t-shirts, or anywhere else. Every year on Memorial Day the comic strip Doonesbury prints the names of all our fallen soldiers. No comments, just the names. Should that be illegal? Where do you draw the line? Who makes these decisions? It is all free speech.

Sherri, I recommend you cherish the memory of your husband and think of him however you want. You have no control over what others think. They are entitled to their opinion and you can't stop them from expressing it just because you disagree. This is America-we have that freedom here.

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Tom3 6 years, 7 months ago

I don't believe it is possible to tell Republicans what to think.

You can't tell them something to do that they are incapable of doing.

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dan_frazier 6 years, 7 months ago

The Craig Daily Press should be ashamed for publishing such a one-sided story without making a real effort to contact me, Dan Frazier, to get my side of the story. How is it that dozens of reporters have managed to contact me, including several student journalists, but Craig Daily Press was unable to do so? If someone from Craig called me, they did not leave a message. Nor was there any clue that they called on my Caller ID. Nor did they e-mail me. Nor did they send me a letter through the regular mail. Did they use smoke signals to try to contact me?

In any event, the writer obviously visited my Web site, CarryaBigSticker.com, but giving readers the Web address was obviously too much trouble. Nor did the writer see fit to quote any of the many remarks that I have posted on my Web site in my own defense. Instead, I was simply villified in print, with no opportunity to respond to the accusations against me. Whatever happened to fair and balanced journalism?

I am very sorry that Sherri Lawton lost her husband in the Iraq war. It is clear that she is still in great pain despite the passage of time. I suspect she would agree with me that nobody should have to go through what she has gone through since Mark's death. So why would she oppose my efforts to end this war and spare others the same kind of pain she is going through?

I find it ironic that Lawton apparently supported the naming of a local American Legion post after her husband. Can we really be sure that Mark would have wanted his name used in this way? Maybe, in his dying moments, he saw war in a different light.

Sherri Lawton does not own her husband's name. Mark's name belongs to history. What if certain relatives could prohibit the names of Holocaust victims from being put on memorials or reprinted in books? It would be that much easier to say that the Holocaust never happened. Mark made the ultimate statement during his life: He gave his life for his country. Nothing I or anyone else does can detract from that statement.

Lawton can try to get a new law on the books in Oregon in an effort to stop what I am doing. But she should know that five states have already tried to do this and have failed to stop me. All the new laws have done is generated publicity for me and my business. Sherri Lawton might want to think twice about her plan to get a new law passed in Oregon.

Dan Frazier

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gem 6 years, 7 months ago

i just don't understand why they are being banned... it states the truth and nothing but the truth... it is sad that people are so blind to it... the shirts pay homage to the fallen soldiers
it isn't met to dishonor it's met for people to take a stand try and stop this pointless "war" from killing our innocent yes, this war did not have to happen... this has nothing to do with 9-11 and if it did, i would think A LOT differently... but it doesn't and it's sad that people don't see this...

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wolf2 6 years, 7 months ago

I, like Dan Frazier, live in Flagstaff, Arizona. I have known Dan for several years. I can certify that he is an idealistic advocate for democracy, free speech, and peace on earth. He has not become rich through selling his T-shirts. He and his wife are still in a lower income bracket.

Although Dan is opposed to the war in Iraq, he respects and grieves for those who have suffered, even died, in that war. He has given a dollar for every shirt he has sold to help the bereaved families of the fallen. Their names on his T-shirts do not exploit or disgrace these men and women; rather, those fine print names honor them in the same way as names carved into stone on a war memorial.

I happen to agree with Dan's opposition to the war. I know there is a vocal minority in this country who do not. The real issue, however, is not whether you agree with him. The real issue is his legal right and moral obligation to express himself freely. That is what makes America America.

An honored name is American history is that of Henry David Thoreau. Thoreau went to jail for his opposition to the imperialistic Mexican War. He is an icon for those who struggle for true human values. Dan Frazier is opposed the to American invasion of Iraq and says so. Dan is on his way to becoming the twenty-first century Thoreau.

Bill Buell

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