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:
We lost an important member of our community with Jacob George's passing last week. His contribution to both our movement and to the many people that he shared his experiences, music and unbridled spirit with is impossible to measure. We at Iraq Veterans Against the War are supporting each other in this difficult time and will be remembering Jacob's legacy in many ways. One way we wanted to honor Jacob's memory is to share the stories of those closest to him. Jacob's close friend and fellow IVAW and Afghanistan Veterans Against the War (AVAW) Committee member Brock McIntosh reflects below on Jacob's life. Please take a moment and read it:
A line has been drawn in Ferguson, Missouri. A line that separates a community collectively grieving for their lost son, and on the other side, a police force that is sworn to serve and protect but instead has brought nothing but fear and violence. A line that separates the institutionalized racism of city, state and federal government decisions and the people across the country who want to see justice for Michael Brown and the many other victims of police violence. This line didn’t begin and doesn’t end in Ferguson. It has its roots in a long history of police violence against Black and Brown communities in the U.S.