Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), a national group of Post 9/11 veterans, calls on the Maryland National Guard to stand down from their mobilization to Baltimore. As 1,000 soldiers currently deploy to put down an uprising of exploited people who have been terrorized by a consistently racist police department, we stand in solidarity with the people of Baltimore and encourage service members and veterans to listen to their fellow community members and to stand on the right side of history.
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.