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WARRIORS FOR PEACE

25/11/2011

USA |

USA as a nation and a people are disconnected from the reality, intimacy, and emotions of war and especially from the soldiers who fight them.  We see the wars as “over there“, being fought between the “troops” and the “insurgents“, we see the dead and wounded as digits in a body count, and those who resist as defectors or protesters.

In our minds, soldiers become instruments that fight for our freedoms and protections, devoid of emotions or morals that might conflict with the mission, never mind first and last names.  Simply put we forget their humanity.   And in doing so, we make the justifications for war and occupation that much easier to accept.

Through the use of intimate portraits and in depth audio interviews, this project challenges that perception of the soldier and reintroduces us to them as humans with distinct and varying sets of emotions, morals and beliefs.  Specifically it looks deeply at the emotions and feelings behind their decision to oppose the wars they have been a part of.

Hear the inspiring words of these soldiers after the jump…

Maggie Martin deployed once to Kuwait and twice to Iraq.  She was a part of the initial invasion in 2003.

I think about the kids I met in the market that were 10, 11, 12yrs old that are now 14, 15, 16yrs old young men who have had an occupation in their country their whole adolescence and I wonder what it must be like for them having their whole childhood destroyed by this war and the occupation.  I’m sure all the happy little kids that were there in 2003 that were getting candy from us and standing on the side of the road, are probably now a large part of the Iraqi resistance and I don’t blame them.

I joined the army to protect my family. says Floyd Holt.  He deployed to Iraq in 2005 in full support of the war and it’s mission.  With his wife at home pregnant with their first son, he felt he was doing what needed to be done.  However:

After seeing the death and destruction of Iraqi families, it made me question what I was really doing there and eventually I realized that to really protect my family and country I needed to end my part in this illegal and unjust war.

Floyd got his tattoo after returning from Iraq while he was still enlisted, to remind himself and others that the army, the death and destruction that it represented could not take his soul and his humanity from him.

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No one is being liberated.  William Stewart-Stark deployed to the Anbar Province of Iraq as a medic in 2004 in full support of the war.  He soon began to wonder though, why he was even there and what they were really fighting for.

We knew we weren’t fighting Al- Qaeda, we were fighting civilians who were fighting back and were just perpetuating the violence.

Still, William wanted to believe he and his fellow soldiers were part of a just cause.  The longer he spent in Iraq the more holes he began to see in what the media had been telling him before he deployed.  While deployed though, he had very little time or energy to really process what he was a part of and it wasn’t until he was back in the USA that he began to put the war into historical, political, and economic context.

Then he was sure that it must be stopped.  William now heads up an organization on the University of Kansas campus in Lawrence, Kansas that is made up of students and veterans who are working to end the wars.

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Jeremy Archambeault was a mortuary technician while serving in Iraq.  That is a fancy term for the soldier who deals with the bodies of his fallen comrades (friends) and stated enemies.

He has been scared deeply by the horrors he has witnessed and remains frustrated by the continuation of those horrors.  He was photographed several blocks from where he grew up and still lives in Chicago, in front of a building whose windows were full of photographs of soldiers who have died in Iraq.

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Coming from a military family, Jared Hood enthusiastically joined the military in 2000.  Four years later he made the conscious decision to go AWOL, stating:

I can no longer serve a government that can justify an occupation.” 

He was angered and felt betrayed by the lies of his government and a citizenry that was all too willing to accept them.

Being in the army forced me to wake up to the lie I had been living my whole life and the lies I had been fed by my family, society and government and I was outright disgusted.  I still am.

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Domingo Rosas served in Iraq as a sergeant. From April 2003 to 2004 he was a guard in a detention center.  Some of the images of abuse and torture he witnessed seared themselves into my minds eye and I can’t forget them, I won’t forget them.” 

He is haunted by those images and the memories of the friend he lost in Iraq.  He speaks out against the war out of necessity and has found a form of therapy in working with the other members of Iraq Veterans Against the War.

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After 3mths in Iraq, the vehicle Zack Choate was traveling in was blown up by an improvised explosive device.  He was sent back to the States for several months to recover from his injuries and then voluntarily redeployed to Iraq for the remainder of his tour.

I went back thinking that maybe we were going to do some good.  But it continued, day in day out, countless pointless missions… It was a lost cause, we went over there, we participated in things we probably shouldn’t have participated in, we made choices we’ll have to live with forever and then we get on a plane and come back here and nothing is ever said about it…

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Please CLICK HERE to support the Vets!!…

Source: John Orlando

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