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Garrie Rouse | profile | all galleries >> protests USA >> A tribute to veterans and their families ... tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

A tribute to veterans and their families ...

The USS New York became a "fighting unit" of the US Navy on November 7, 2009. She is named after the state of New York in recognition of the 9/11 attacks on the city of New York. Her bow is forged from steel salvaged from the wreckage of the World Trade Center. The motto "NEVER FORGET" is emblazoned on her bridgedeck. Below is an article that appeared in VCU's Commonealth Times on Veterans Day, written by veteran David Calkins, followed by a collection of images I have taken post 9/11 of a different face of our veterans that is often ignored by those who are so ready to heap patriotic praise on our militaristic ventures in the Middle East ...

THE PHOENIX

"Godspeed to the crew of the USS New York. May they carry out their duties in safety and with our full support. Eight years have passed since 9/11, and we have come a long way.

Or have we? As a nation deeply inspired by symbolism, from the bald eagle to the Statue of Liberty, we find meanings in things that can be mundane or extraordinary. On Saturday, November 7, 2009, we commissioned the USS New York with much fanfare and publicity. It is a national symbol of our resilience, but it is also a metaphor for our foreign policy. We are, in fact, here to stay.

Yet I think it's fair to ask, "What does this say about us as a nation?" From the ashes of the worst terrorist attack of our time, we have created a warship. Our Phoenix is a Destroyer. We are saying to the world that the destruction brought upon us will be matched, and avenged. Our collective pain is a gift that keeps on giving.

We are responding to violence with more violence, if not in deed then at least symbolically, and we are contributing to the endless cycle. Eight years after 9/11, we have unveiled a lethal weapon as a symbol of how far we have come, a symbol of all that we have lost, and all that we have learned. We call our celebrations of its lethality patriotism, and label as unpatriotic or unsympathetic those who are reluctant to cheer its destructive power.

Whether we like it or not, the world is watching us, friend and foe alike. And whether we care or not, their perception of us as a people, their perception of our attitude toward them and our stubborn belligerence around the globe, will only continue to shape their beliefs and their actions, which, in turn, will shape ours. It is the endless cycle.

Now, the USS New York will symbolically carry with it our battle scars. Though, in this country, we typically wear such scars proudly, there is something to be said for humility, for we will be sharing the burden of our grief with not only our enemies, but most assuredly, also with our friends.

And even for a good friend, that can become tiresome. Sympathy and goodwill are so fleeting in this world that we must take care to not run out.

A single destroyer cannot defeat a terrorist organization, nor can an entire fleet. Yet from the twisted steel of the World Trade Center, that is what we built. We did not build a university, or a library, or a cultural learning center. We did not build a hospital, or a food bank, or a homeless shelter. We did not build these things, which could have brought light to the world from one of the darkest days of our nation's history.

We did not build any of these things because, it seems we are unwilling to believe in the power of one small, positive act to change an overwhelmingly negative world. Any of these things would have been a powerful symbol of our resilience, and part of a greater healing process than the one we now wage around the world. Now, however, our wounds will forever be licked by saltwater, foreign and unfamiliar.

Our military alone cannot defeat terrorism. It takes reform, education, and compassion to do that. Yet, our military bears the greatest burden of war. Just as our success in these wars cannot be measured by the number of enemies we kill, or by the number of buildings we destroy, or the number of hidden weapons we uncover, the true costs of these wars cannot be measured in only human or logistical losses.

War, by its nature, wrecks a man's soul, but the damage doesn't stop there, nor is it temporary. We must ask ourselves if we truly understand the price of war. It is right in front of our eyes, from the veteran who drinks alone every night, to the victims of last week's massacre at Fort Hood.

It is in the shamed looks of homeless veterans who roam our streets. It is in the broken marriages, the senseless violence, and the shattered dreams that dominate our society. Before we contribute again to the endless cycle of global violence, we would serve ourselves well by asking, "What should be our Phoenix?"

It can be a battleship if we want it to be. But if we let that serve as a measure of how far we have come, then we have not come nearly far enough. And as a symbol, it tells the world nothing about us that they don't already know."

David Calkins is a homeleand security and emergency preparedness major at VCU, he is also a combat veteran of the Iraq War.


veterans for peace
veterans for peace
Vietnam veteran
Vietnam veteran
Army Pfc. Daniel R. Parker(1985-2003)*
Army Pfc. Daniel R. Parker
(1985-2003)*
decorated veteran against the war
decorated veteran against the war
purple heart for peace
purple heart for peace
WWII Veteran?
WWII Veteran?
Is it Vietnam yet?
Is it Vietnam yet?
Military Families Speak Out
Military Families Speak Out
veteran for peace
veteran for peace
Iraq veterans against the war (IVAW)
Iraq veterans against the war (IVAW)
Fernando Suarez (father of Jesus)*
Fernando Suarez (father of Jesus)*
dog tags(Jesus Suarez)*
dog tags
(Jesus Suarez)*
coffins (II)
coffins (II)
march to White House
march to White House
veterans for peace
veterans for peace
coffins (I)
coffins (I)
Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW)
Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW)
father of fallen soldier (Patrick Sheehan)*
father of fallen soldier
(Patrick Sheehan)*
Kelly Dougherty*
Kelly Dougherty*
coffins (II)
coffins (II)
Jamaal  Rashard Addison II*
Jamaal Rashard Addison II*
Veterans for Peace (I)
Veterans for Peace (I)
Veterans for Peace (II)
Veterans for Peace (II)
Iraq Veterans Against the War(IVAW)
Iraq Veterans Against the War
(IVAW)
Lance Cpl. Jason C. Redifer*
Lance Cpl. Jason C. Redifer*
noting the fallen
noting the fallen
Elliott Adams (VFP) and Charlie Richardson (MFSO)
Elliott Adams (VFP) and Charlie Richardson (MFSO)
Sam Adams(Veterans for Peace)
Sam Adams
(Veterans for Peace)
Sgt. Liam Madden(USMC-Quantico)
Sgt. Liam Madden
(USMC-Quantico)
working tirelessly for peace
working tirelessly for peace
GI Rights Hotline
GI Rights Hotline
2nd Lt. Kent Gneiting(Army National Guard-CO)
2nd Lt. Kent Gneiting
(Army National Guard-CO)
Charlie Richardson (MFSO)
Charlie Richardson (MFSO)
Kelly Dougherty (IVAW)*
Kelly Dougherty (IVAW)*
David Cline(Veterans for Peace)*
David Cline
(Veterans for Peace)*
Sgt. Jabbar MacGruder(Army National Guard-CA)
Sgt. Jabbar MacGruder
(Army National Guard-CA)
Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) (II)
Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) (II)
veteran paratrooper against the war
veteran paratrooper against the war
Jonathon Hutto(Appeal for Redress)
Jonathon Hutto
(Appeal for Redress)
Iraq Veterans Against the War(IVAW)
Iraq Veterans Against the War
(IVAW)
Air Force veteran against the war
Air Force veteran against the war
Carlos Arredondo(father of Alexander)*
Carlos Arredondo
(father of Alexander)*
Alexander S. Arredondo *
Alexander S. Arredondo *
Gilda Carbonaro (MFSO)*
Gilda Carbonaro (MFSO)*
Iraq War Veterans Against the War (IVAW)
Iraq War Veterans Against the War (IVAW)
Iraq Veteran Against the War (Prysner)*
Iraq Veteran Against the War (Prysner)*
Iraq Veteran Against the War (Hogg)
Iraq Veteran Against the War (Hogg)
Sgt. Liam Madden(USMC-Quantico)
Sgt. Liam Madden
(USMC-Quantico)
Garett Reppenhagen(IVAW Chair)
Garett Reppenhagen
(IVAW Chair)
view from the stage
view from the stage
Iraq Veteran Against the War
Iraq Veteran Against the War
Vietnam Veteran Against the War
Vietnam Veteran Against the War
IVAW
IVAW
support our troops ... end the war
support our troops ... end the war
Vietnam Veteran Robert Powell speaks out
Vietnam Veteran Robert Powell speaks out
Connie Moss of Military Families Speak Out
Connie Moss of Military Families Speak Out
In front of the Virginia National Guard office
In front of the Virginia National Guard office
Phil Waste (MFSO)
Phil Waste (MFSO)
Ann Williams and Tom Palumbo listen attentively
Ann Williams and Tom Palumbo listen attentively
Tina Garnanez(IVAW)*
Tina Garnanez
(IVAW)*
Senator George Allen's office
Senator George Allen's office
PFC William C. Ramirez*
PFC William C. Ramirez*
Larry Syverson (MFSO)
Larry Syverson (MFSO)
Michelle DeFord(GSFP)
Michelle DeFord
(GSFP)
Brooke Beasley(GSFP)
Brooke Beasley
(GSFP)
Linda & Phil Waste(MFSO)
Linda & Phil Waste
(MFSO)
crosses
crosses
young soldiers (lining up to hear from their Commander-in-Chief)
young soldiers (lining up to hear from their Commander-in-Chief)
lone, early morning protester(Iraq War veteran)
lone, early morning protester
(Iraq War veteran)
Charlie Anderson(Iraq War veteran)*
Charlie Anderson
(Iraq War veteran)*
Bush lied(USCG - Sector Hampton Roads)
Bush lied
(USCG - Sector Hampton Roads)
rare communication moment
rare "communication moment"
support for Lt. Watada*
support for Lt. Watada*
Mr. Watada*
Mr. Watada*
Gina Sullivan(USAF - 26 yrs)
Gina Sullivan
(USAF - 26 yrs)
Chris Jaramillo(Navy Flight Crew/Reserves - 25 yrs)
Chris Jaramillo
(Navy Flight Crew/Reserves - 25 yrs)
Doug Zachery(Veterans for Peace)
Doug Zachery
(Veterans for Peace)
Jonathan Hutto(US Navy-Norfolk)
Jonathan Hutto
(US Navy-Norfolk)
Iraq Veterans Against the War (II)
Iraq Veterans Against the War (II)
Sgt. Liam Madden(USMC-Quantico)
Sgt. Liam Madden
(USMC-Quantico)
Iraq Veterans Against the War (III)
Iraq Veterans Against the War (III)
Michael McPherson(Veterans for Peace)
Michael McPherson
(Veterans for Peace)
Tom Palumbo(VFP-Tidewater)
Tom Palumbo
(VFP-Tidewater)
US Navy
US Navy
Fabian Bouthillette(The Military Project)
Fabian Bouthillette
(The Military Project)
Sgt. Jabbar MacGruder(Army National Guard-CA)
Sgt. Jabbar MacGruder
(Army National Guard-CA)
A Time to Break the Silence (I)*
"A Time to Break the Silence" (I)*
A Time to Break the Silence (II)
"A Time to Break the Silence" (II)
A Time to Break the Silence (III)
"A Time to Break the Silence" (III)
group reading of Appeal for Redress
group reading of Appeal for Redress
Larry Syverson(Military Families Speak Out)
Larry Syverson
(Military Families Speak Out)
United States Navy
United States Navy
Corrie Hughes(Military Families Speak Out)
Corrie Hughes
(Military Families Speak Out)
Toni Davy(Navy veteran)
Toni Davy
(Navy veteran)
US Army ... arrested!
US Army ... arrested!
support resistance (Bolger)
support resistance (Bolger)
Iraq War veteran speaks up!
Iraq War veteran speaks up!
until being taken down ...
until being taken down ...
hard ...
hard ...
... at the foot of our Capitol building!
... at the foot of our Capitol building!