Fatalities: Art & The Endless War

In February of 2005, I wrote about artist Donald Shambroom and his Fatalities window installation assemblage in Boston’s Watertown area. Shambroom’s statement on the human cost of war seems more pressing today than when it was first conceptualized.

On November 19th, 2005, U.S. Marines went on a revenge killing spree in the western Iraqi city of Haditha after one of their own was killed by a guerrilla roadside bomb. In retaliation, Marines burst into civilian homes in the area of the bombing, killing up to 24 unarmed civilians in what will surely become known as Iraq’s My Lai massacre. One of those shot at close range was a 76-year old amputee in a wheelchair, other victims included little girls and boys ages 14, 10, 5, 4, 3, and 1. Time magazine obtained a video tape that was filmed immediately after the killings, a video that verified eyewitness accounts of the bloody slayings. A young Marine, sent in as part of a “clean up crew” in the aftermath of the shootings, took photographs of the victims and helped to carry their bodies out of bullet pock-marked homes. Those photos helped military investigators conclude that Marines had indeed killed women, children and elderly men. Last week the Pentagon announced that some members of the Marine unit may be charged with murder, and so the story of the massacre has finally reached the mainstream news.

On May 31st, 2006, two Iraqi women were shot and killed in their car after failing to stop at an American military check point. The U.S. military said in a statement that “repeated visual and auditory warnings” were made before shots were fired at the vehicle. After the shooting stopped, it was found that the two women were driving to a maternity hospital – one of them was pregnant and about to give birth. With mounting opposition to the war as a backdrop, Mr. Bush in his divine wisdom (God does talk to him you know), quietly gave the order for the deployment of more U.S. troops to Iraq. Some 3,500 soldiers from the 1st Armored Division stationed in Kuwait are now on their way to the killing fields of Iraq’s Anbar province.

Meanwhile Donald Shambroom has launched a new website where you can see his latest antiwar sculptures, works that continue to address the effects of America’s largest national enterprise – war. Hopefully, as the dreadful occupation of Iraq goes from bad to worse, Shambroom’s example will inspire other artists to create works of art in opposition to the folly of imperial wars and overseas colonial adventures.

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