Memorial Day, Remembering

Sgt. Jason Ross by artist Victor JuhaszMichael D. Fay of the New York Times keeps faith…

We introduce ourselves simply. We’re war artists and have been out in the fight multiple times with you guys; living under the same conditions and capturing your combat experiences in art. We then give them our basic vision of why we’re here: You guys are still in the fight and what you do every day to recover and make the absolute best of your new reality is important to your fellow Americans. The wounded Marines get it.

The three Marines we’ll draw over these two days will allow us to observe and record them in what most would consider the worst possible conditions. One is paralyzed from the waist down; one has had 30 surgeries in the last nine weeks to put his face back together; and one has lost both legs mid-thigh and his right hand is virtually unusable. But, we know these Marines are consummate warriors, and we watch them attacking their disabilities and wounds with the same dogged determination they used every day humping the hills and fields of Afghanistan.

It’s a reminder that every day of the war in Afghanistan, every day our soldiers are in harm’s way anywhere in the world, carries a cost that they and their families will live with for the rest of their lives. Once a war is started, there is no telling the outcome or the consequences. We were too long getting our troops out of Iraq, too long in Afghanistan. May each Memorial Day remind us of the sacrifices of our veterans, and let us never again enter a war of choice.

The Joe Bonham Project is a year-and-a-half-old group dedicated to documenting the experiences of wounded service members. see the artist’s work here.

The drawing above is of Sgt.Jason Ross by artist Victor Juhasz.

Memorial Day

There’s a house on my street with two flagpoles in the yard, an American flag and a POW/MIA flag. The Vietnam War had all the boys in my high-school class wondering what their draft number would be. The rich always had a way out, but that war reaped the young men of the middle and working class.

Now, not so much shared sacrifice. How volunteer is our military when so many young people can’t find a job or afford college? What should we give up before we put the first soldier in harm’s way? Cheap gas? Defense jobs? Tax cuts?

Every soldier lost leaves a space in the place they should have been. A parent, a child, a brother or sister, a friend or lover.

When soldiers come home, they need support. Not as troops, but as citizens. Jobs, health care, housing, safety, respect– what we all need.

Keeping the peace happens here.

Greater City:Providence has a tribute to all the Rhode Islanders who died in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Memorial Day

I wish you all a good Memorial Day. I’m off to work so I will post a link to where columnist Bob Kerr, himself a veteran, interviews Earl Northrup.

“Some people say that didn’t happen,” says Earl, jabbing at a photograph he says he took with a forbidden camera as his unit entered Dachau in 1945. It shows stacks of bodies.

There are far more lighthearted moments in the fading black and white prints. Earl points at a picture of his troop ship coming home, laughing as he points into a sea of faces to claim “that’s me.”

He took part in six invasions, he says. He was in North Africa and Italy and Germany with the 3407th Ordnance Group. It was his job to keep things running.

“I did what I was supposed to do,” he says. “I got no regrets about it, but I was a nervous wreck.”

Go here, for the rest of the story.

To all who fought, who suffered, who waited on the ones they loved, who were civilians caught in events they did not cause or comprehend…

May your sacrifice not be forgotten. May we find our way to peace.