Symbol, words share space on a U.S. highway

CARLSBORG – Take down that Christmas wreath, a homeowners’ association told Lisa Jensen of Pagosa Springs, Colo. Hearing this, Gary Smart of Carlsborg got an idea.

The Loma Linda condominium association ordered resident Jensen to remove a wreath made in the shape of a peace sign.

Jensen refused to take it down, and news programs across the country, including “The Colbert Report,” had a field day with the incident.

Smart beat “Colbert” to the punch, however, by fashioning a steel peace sign, wrapping it in lighted garlands from Big Lots, the discount store in Sequim, and adding 600 more tiny white lights.

Shortly before Christmas, he did as innumerable other business people do: He hung his lighted display outside his shop, Gary’s Boat Tops, at 261943 U.S. Highway 101.

But these weren’t seasonal lights to be dismantled by mid-January.

To 52-year-old Smart, they’re an ongoing call for peace on the Peninsula and around the world.

The peace sign is only four feet in diameter and set back from the road.

But after dark it’s highly visible to westbound drivers on the highway between Sequim and Port Angeles.

During daylight hours, passers-by may notice another roadside message, this one about the casualties of war.

“God bless the 3,000 dead and injured,” says a small reader-board perched on a stump near Craig Hunter’s firewood lot.

Hunter, 46, said he put up the reader-board message soon after Christmas – but shortly before the Dec. 31 reports of the 3,000th American casualty in Iraq.

“I knew it was coming,” he said. “If I remember right, the day I put it up, the three [soldiers] passed away,” raising the toll to 3,000.

Hunter had thought of posting a message about the new year, something proclaiming his Christian beliefs.

He’s had his firewood lot and reader board for five years, and has put up many time-sensitive messages, including “The devil tricks, the Lord treats” at Halloween.

“Whatever the Lord brings to my mind, I put it there . . . I’ve never had a negative response,” said Hunter, who describes himself as a logger and sometime-hippie who used to travel with the Grateful Dead.

Hunter added that he’s noticed – and admired – Smart’s peace sign.

“I’m all for peace,” he said.

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