I’ve tried, pretty successfully, to live a life without too much fear. Growing up I didn’t follow the rules of stranger danger. I talked to everyone I met, picked up hitchhikers, went out to unfamiliar places alone, and I’m convinced it has enriched my life. I’ve been lucky; I’ve never had anything bad happen, at least not from someone I was supposed to be afraid of. After all my biggest source of trauma has come in the form of surprise attack from someone I was in a relationship with¾not a stranger lurking behind a bush.
My outgoing and trusting nature even translated to the war zone, where I was regularly reprimanded for trying to make friends with the Iraqis instead of treating them as a threat to our safety. When we were at the market or on our camp “guarding” local Iraqi workers my curiosity and desire for connection always outweighed my sense of fear and danger.
'Celebrate People's History: Iraq Veterans Against the War - Ten Years of Fighting for Justice and Peace' is a portfolio poster project honoring IVAW's ten year history of speaking out against the wars and taking action to bring home the impact of these wars.
The portfolio features contributions from IVAW members, Justseeds Artists' Cooperative members, along with allied veterans, artists and writers. It highlights key ideas, moments, projects, tactics and individuals from IVAW history in order to uplift IVAW's ongoing struggle, inspire others to take action, and preserve a snapshot of movement history.
Today is a solemn day for us. Twelve years ago the Bush administration launched the illegal invasion of Iraq, forever altering millions of lives.
As an organization made up of veterans who have seen firsthand the impacts of war and who have also been deeply implicated in it, we know that this day must be seared into our collective conscience. Forgetting can not be an option.
So much of what we see in our foreign policy and domestic political landscape can be connected to that fateful decision. It is reflected in everything from the climate of deep Islamophobia at home, to the high suicide rates of veterans, from the brutal rise of ISIS, to the militarization of police departments across the country. These are just a few examples of how widespread the effects have been.
When I returned from Iraq ten years ago, some of my most vivid memories were of pointing my rifle at men and boys while my fellow soldiers burned semi trucks of food and fuel, and of watching the raw grief of a family finding that their young son had been run over and killed by a military convoy.
I remember being frustrated with military commanders that seemed more concerned with decorations and awards than with the safety of their troops, and of finding out that there never were any weapons of mass destruction. I was angry and frustrated and couldn't relate to my fellow veterans who voiced with pride their feelings that they were defending freedom and democracy. I also couldn't relate to civilians who would label me a hero, but didn't seem interested in actually listening to my story.
On Thursday, October 30th we lost a member of our community to his own hands. Ethan Kreutzer was a member of IVAW Bay Area who served in the Army from 2002 to 2004. He was a veteran of the war in Afghanistan. He left a lasting impression on everyone he came into contact with and couldn't stay in one place for too long due to his wandering soul. We wanted to highlight some remembrances of Ethan from close friends of his. As we mourn his loss please take the opportunity to read about our brother who has moved on: