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Monday, April 03, 2006

The Faces Of Collateral Damage

The image vanished as I turned the page yet it remains with me still. I do not know their names but the black and white picture of the anguished young Vietnamese mother carrying her lifeless child had a profound effect on me.

The small child whose fatal wound she'd been powerless to prevent rested across her extended arms, its head and limbs dangling. I read terror, desperation, and a faint flicker of hope in her eyes as she thrust her bleeding toddler toward the person who held the camera. "Please, help my baby", she screamed silently from the newspaper photo.

I was frozen for a moment with mother and child in that terrible snapshot of a past war. It was then, over thirty-eight years ago, that I learned one of humanity's universal truths; we are all the same, we are one. I was the Vietnamese mother and she was me. Her child was my child. My children are hers.

That the same ugly war has been recycled from the jungles of Vietnam to the sands of Iraq marks a tragic beginning for the twenty-first century.

Photographs of the current war have been taken but those printed in the newspapers and magazines, or shown on television have been carefully screened to edit out images that reflect the true horror and anguish of the military conflict in Iraq. Such disturbing pictures do not fit in the Bush Administration's sanitized version of the "liberation" of Iraq.

The maimed and the dead of Iraq are rarely shown in the media in the United States. It is as if thousands had never lived lives at all. All of the nameless dead have been collectively dispensed under the dehumanizing label "collateral damage". It is less upsetting to Americans this way. But collateral damage has faces and names.

The March For Justice has posted photos of some of victims of this war. The deaths and injuries were recorded by camera during weeks between March 22, 2003 to May 28, 2003. The photos are graphic and painful to view both psychologically and emotionally. They are also not suitable for viewing by children or by adults with heart problems.

The images posted in The "Shock and Awe" Gallery visually expose the truth of war. I never knew that a little boy's skull could collaspe like an empty cloth sack but the terrible picture of his face is proof that smart bombs kill just as wickedly as regular bombs.

The photographs are shocking and disturbing. If you choose to view the pictures click here. Remember you will be looking at family photos. We are all members of the human family. Perhaps these prints and others like them can be used to educate the American public about the effects of war. A dose of reality is the best known cure for complacent indifference.

*NOTE: Because of the subject matter of this post I spent a long time thinking it over before I decided to include the above link. A picture, after all, is said to be worth a thousand words, and something must be said for those who have suffered. I feel strongly that Americans need to face what they have done to the Iraqi people and must abandon any foreign policy that is reliant on preemptive military aggression.

**The photos on the top of this post actually represent a sad trilogy. The first, on the left, is an excerpt from Picasso's painting "Guernica". It was painted in April of 1937 as a protest against the Nazi blitzkrieg bombardment of the Basque town of Guernica. The second photo would have been placed in the center if I had been able to find a copy. Instead, I described the photo of the Vietnamese mother and dead child in words. The last photo, the color one on the left, shows an older man carrying an injured little girl (his granddaughter?) who lies limp in the cradle of his arms. This photo can be found in the Shock and Awe Gallery.

The same picture repeated in three different wars: WWII, Vietnam, and Iraq.

..............Kitchen Window Woman.............


Blogger Brad said...

Great post, my dear! This war has been far too sanitized by the conservative media. Lest we forget, opinion turned against the Vietnam war because of aggressive journalists getting the true story out on the 6 o'clock news, and that's exactly what we need right now. Too many people are far too ignorant of what's really going on.

11:58 PM  
Blogger Kitchen Window Woman said...

BRAD...Glad you agree that we need to get the truth out! Americans must take responsibility for what they have done. The media is glossing over the ugly reality of war. That the death and destruction visited upon Iraq by the Bush Administration and its followers was totally unnecessary is criminal!

5:18 PM  

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