BELLINGHAM, Wash. – Nearly five years after putting up a controversial billboard that keeps a running tally of U.S. soldier deaths in Iraq, the owner says it's staying up despite vandalism and threats.
Each morning starts with a grim ritual for Rob Queisser, looking at the number of soldiers killed – a number that, according to polls, fewer and fewer Americans can name.
"I just don't know how you can overlook that everyday," said Queisser.
So, he made it his duty to keep people informed by building the homemade billboard in his yard that he updates daily.
"We just try to keep a solid focus on what's very important to us and our body politic," said Queisser.
"We so appreciate this sign, reminding people every time they drive by," said Maggie Hanson, who passes the sign every day.
Thousands of cars pass by with some drivers waving and honking in support. But Queisser says others have thrown rocks at his home and vandals have torn the sign apart multiple times. There have also been letters calling Queisser a terrorist, and even one that threatened him with beheading.
"That freaked my wife out quite a bit, but we kept the sign up," said Queisser.
"I just disagree with it greatly," said Chet Dow, who doesn’t condone the threats or vandalism, but does believe the sign is in poor taste.
It's a reminder of the war's cost and the continuing political divide.
"As long as we're taking casualties in Iraq, I'll keep the sign up," said Queisser.
To help prevent vandalism, Queisser has installed floodlights that shine on the billboard at night.