A mural project got under way in San Francisco Wednesday honoring the nearly 5,000 U.S. soldiers to die in the Iraq War.

The names of the 4,484 soldiers began being painted this morning on a mural in “Veterans Alley,” located at Geary and Shannon streets near the city’s Tenderloin neighborhood, according to Amos Gregory, who conceived the project.

Gregory, who is a veteran from the Persian Gulf War-era, said painting all the names could take as long as two months and is part of a larger project to transform the alley, which he said was a popular place for drug use among homeless veterans.

“They call it ‘Crack Alley,'” he said. “There’s a lot of drug use, a lot of trauma.”

Gregory said he got permission from the owners of four of the six buildings in the alley to paint murals there, including the 76-by-30-foot mural with the Iraq War soldiers’ names.

About 30 other murals from other veterans have already been painted in the alley, according to Gregory, who is encouraging input and participation in the artwork from more veterans and supporters.

“As many people that want to participate or want to show solidarity, come pick up a paintbrush,” he said.

More information about the project can be found on its website at (warning: autoplay audio)

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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