Today marks the 1,502 US soldier to die in Iraq since Mr. Bush launched the war in March 2003. From the time when the Commander in Chief announced “Mission Accomplished” in May of 2003, 1,364 US soldiers have lost their lives. How are these service men and women being remembered?
Perhaps America is beginning to realize that it is actually mired in an overseas war where its sons and daughters are being maimed and killed on a daily basis. The shopping mall, cineplex, and workplace may look the same… but the brutality of this war is beginning to creep into American popular culture. In times such as these, artists must step forward to grapple with thorny social issues, anything less is escapism.
It is a bit eerie that on the same day as the 1,502 US fatality in Iraq, Syracuse University of New York is opening an exhibition dedicated to the fallen American soldiers of that war. Commencing March 3rd and running until April 1st, To Never Forget: Faces of the Fallen is an exhibit of more than 1,400 5” x 7” portrait paintings of US soldiers killed in Iraq.
A little over one thousand of the paintings were first created and exhibited by the students and faculty of California’s College of Marin, who originated the project. The students and faculty of Syracuse University will now contribute an additional 350 artworks to the display. It is a haunting thing to behold, especially considering that the next exhibit may require even more wall space.